JD Duarte

CEO of Betcris

JD Duarte was born in Costa Rica, in a family of hard-working people and with a strong inclination to business. In 1997 JD started his way in the sports betting industry, at first, it was just a summer job, a way to make a little extra money, but it didn’t take long for JD to realize he enjoyed the job and not only that, but he understood that the industry had a lot of growth potential.

Thanks to this first approach to the industry, Duarte decides to continue working while completing his university degree in business, combining experience in the real world with the knowledge acquired in the classrooms. The hard work, dedication, and focus at this time in his life paid off as his career in the sports betting industry progressed by leaps and bounds.

In 2003, Duarte became involved in the development of software for the sports betting industry, and a year later in 2004, he began a process of exploring new opportunities in Latin America. Due to this, he managed to enter the markets of the Dominican Republic and Panama.

In 2006, a defining moment in Duarte’s career arose. The United States Government banned the growth of online gambling with the approval of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. Because of this the owner of the company where Duarte was, at this time, a top executive decided to sell the business. Duarte, always looking for new challenges and opportunities, saw the option of managing the business as he wanted to manage it, so he managed to buy the Betcris brand and designed an aggressive business plan to launch legal operations in Latin American markets, always following all local regulations.

The plan worked, and with a lot of work, focus and precision, JD Duarte and his team have made Betcris the company with the most presence in the Latin American market, achieving annual growth of 30% for several years.

Where did the idea for Betris come from?

I can’t take credit for the name, I now own the brand but was not part of the creative process behind it. Betcris was born at the onset of the .com explosion. It’s a combination of the word bet and the acronym CRIS which stood back then for Costa Rica International Sports.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Wake up early to help the kids gets ready for school. Exercise 1hr every other day. Review the previous day’s reports. Hold a Top Line weekly meeting to catch up on progress being made in key projects, relevant news or learn about any impediments I can help resolve. Check in 1 on 1 at least once per week with my top line managers. Weekly Product Presentation where Product Owners rotate to provide updates on their projects. We work based on OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) so all meetings pretty much revolve around the current company goals.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Inspiration comes from the market, and my aspiration to make Betcris invincible. Everything has to be aligned with long term value for all parties involved: staff, customers, providers, partners, etc.
We keep an eye on the global market and pay close attention to what our customers say.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Agile methodology: Collaborative work in teams where the work is divided in cycles and certain formal events give room for planning, execution, feedback and continuous improvements. It also thrives on transparency, which I believe is a direct conduit to generating happiness in the workplace and providing top shelf customer experience, which in turn generates customer loyalty.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I am a problem solver… I stay focused on finding the solution. No energy wasted on finding culprits or “crying” over spilled milk. It’s all about how we get to the solution and turn the minus into a plus.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Focus. Dedicate more time to the important stuff rather than the urgent.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Too much to mention. haha

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Stay positive and plow thru the noise. There’s a lot of noise out there and its purpose is to slow you down.
Another one: Listen… put yourself in the other person’s shoes and be ready to consider they are right.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

There’s always (usually) a great deal to be made. You just have to learn what drives the other side and find common ground. Align.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Not all shots you take go in, especially from half court! Over time, I let myself get distracted with some business that took away valuable time that I could have dedicated to my family, myself or any of my key projects. Now I am much more selective when it comes to taking on new projects. The value has to be there.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Great question. As people (and families) are spending more time online and away from other people, I believe there’s an opportunity for multiplayer family games via their computers, Apple TVs, Chromecasts, etc. This will help people and families interact in positive ways.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

As we are now being asked to stay at home (COVID19), I bought an inflatable swimming pool that my kids and I are now enjoying. Spending time with my family is definitely a big win that has made me remember how important it is to put them at the top of my agenda.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

I am a collaborative software junkie. I love trying out new ways to stay synced with my team, to jot down and prioritize ideas and to break ideas into tasks. As of lately, we are trying MS Teams and have found it quite effective.

For meetings, I would also recommend any text editor or spreadsheet application as long as it is on display for all participants. This would help create an on-the-fly document that will serve as the deliverable for that encounter and help everyone be on the same page for whatever the next steps are.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

A recent good read: The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek. It talks about long term value in decision making. Should be applied to life in general, not just business.

What is your favorite quote?

Never, never, never give up. (Winston Churchill).

Key Learnings:

  • The Agile methodology can be implemented by any organization if they are looking to gain efficiency through collaboration and transparency. Delegating
  • Stay positive and focused on finding the solution rather than waste energy dwelling about cause. Negativity will only make you lose the game before you even start.
  • Exercise empathy in order to understand the motivation of other people. Listening to other people will take you further as trust is cultivated amongst team members.
  • Regularly put down your ideas and objectives into a plan that can be used by people around you as a Roadmap. This will help cut through the daily routine to help others align with the long term objectives.
  • Family goes first! A happy and stable rhythm at home translates to creativity and brainpower to be used in business.