Gambling app Circl has secured a £550,000 investment from ZEAL Ventures.

CEO Will Hawkins came up with the idea for Circl in order to distract his university mates while they watched a 1-1 drab draw between his beloved Southampton and Crystal Palace.

He launched the Manchester-based business in 2020 with Mark Quinn and Eddie Ross and it already has thousands of regular users.

Hawkins said the investment would help Circl build its footprint in the UK and scale to new territories.

He said: “Zeal Ventures have invested in a number of innovative companies that look to redefine lottery, including Omaze, DAYMADE and Pick Media.

“We are so thrilled to be working with their venture team, as we look to provide sports fans and non-sports fans alike, the opportunity to win life-changing prizes whilst watching live football.

“My main advice to new and existing founders looking to raise capital, is to embrace change.

Is Circl the future of sports entertainment?

“I think change often comes with negative connotations, or even a suggestion that you ‘don’t know what you’re doing’.

“If anything, change is your strongest asset, your most valuable narrative, and arguably the clearest indicator that you and your team knows exactly what they are doing. – something that, obviously, investors are looking for.”

Hawkins, who previously worked at AccessPay and Push Doctor, said founders needed to be prepared to adapt.

Writing on LinkedIn he said: “I’ve not met a single founder whose business is the same as they had originally wanted it to be or thought it would be – at either a macro or micro level.

“There’s a strong probability that your original idea had multiple flaws or was simply not ‘business-ready’ – like mine was!

“Your idea (with a solid pitch deck, seasoned with your passion) gets you through the first door (initial investment & MVP).

“From there, it’s a race against the clock to find the next best version of your idea – so it can become a business to unlock the seond door (further investment/partnerships).

After that?  A race against the clock to find an even better version of your business and open more doors.”

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Hawkins said Circl had raised £1.3m in two years and evolved from ‘Will’s bedroom idea’ to a ‘next-gen football entertainment game.’

He added: “We’ve done this by understanding our users, paying close attention to changes in our market and finding a viable middle ground.

“If you don’t embrace change, your business won’t evolve, and if your business isn’t evolving, then it’s likely your fundraising won’t either.

We are super excited and grateful for the opportunity to place Circl at the forefront of live sport and play our part in the future of digital entertainment.”