Martina Åkerlund: “I Fully Support Getting More Women To Bet”

Martina Åkerlund, of CallsU, talks about financial and i-gaming sectors and how we can empower women to enter the sports betting industry

I caught up with Martina a couple of weeks ago at G2E and we chatted about her transition from banking to betting, her new entrepreneurial venture and how we can help women in the industry

About: Martina Akerlund, CEO of the marketing service company CallsU

She was the previous CEO of sports tech company Triggy, where she is now part of the board of directors. 20 years of experience in banking and finance in various senior positions, including CMO, Head of Regulatory Reporting, and Head of Project Management Office in organizations such as Nasdaq, Swedbank, and SEB.

Passionate about cultures and leadership where everyone can be their best.

You moved from banking to gaming three years ago; what made you move?

Martina: I started my career in banking 20 years ago and have been in various senior positions in many different business areas of banks.

My last position was CMO, and I reported to the CEO, who was also the owner/founder of the bank, which made me feel that my possibilities to advance were limited. I also felt it was time for a change after 20 years and longed to see something new.

Do you see any similarities in the banking/gaming industries?

Martina: Absolutely; the similarities are many.

Today, banking is a mature industry, but when I started 20 years ago, it was like the gaming industry is today, under development, but under my 20 years, it matured and got heavily regulated. The products differ, but they’re based on the same components: data, transactions, and user experience, and they’re regulated.

What’s your vision for CallsU? 

Martina: I want to build the brand and organization of CallsU to be the preferred choice for operators and affiliates that want to increase their market share as well as increase the revenue and lifetime value of their customers in a responsible way. I’m also looking into other industries other than gaming right now; there are many industries that can benefit from using our services, and gaming is just the first on our roadmap.

If you could change one thing in the sports betting industry, what would it be? 

Martina: I fell in love with this industry the moment I started. The combination of entrepreneurs—people who are self-made but at the same time smart, innovative, and kind—in an industry that is still in its infancy with good margins makes it an amazing place to be right now. The only thing I wish for is for more women to join and see the benefits of it. With more women joining, I think we would be better at creating products for female players. I therefore fully support what you at BettingLadies are trying to do: get more women to bet.

What do you think is the future of digital products and content in the i-gaming/sports betting industry? Do you see any trends forming?

Martina: Personalization and AI. All of us are already used to being addressed by personalized content/information/products. We have only seen the beginning of this but already see the benefits of it when used in a good way.

What advice would you give to younger women who want to get into the betting industry? 

Martina: Just do it😊 I would say it’s perfect timing right now, all the best companies have realized that they have to focus on diversity to build efficient teams that can deliver products that attract the entire population.

Therefore, women can almost have access to a fast-track lane if they have the right competence and attitude.

Also, try to find yourself a good female mentor who can help you with both advice and networking. There are so many amazing women in this industry who love to help if you just reach out to them.

What do women want? 

Martina: The same as all of us, high quality and engaging products.

But what we find as high quality and engaging differs, that’s why it’s important to have organizations with mixed teams, all the way from the board level to development teams to be able to deliver this.

As we all are biased (no matter if we are aware or not) most of us tend to deliver products and find solutions that are appealing to people like ourselves.

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