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Betting on True Leadership as an Entrepreneur | Jason Trost, Smarkets

On this week’s Searching for Mana podcast, Jason Trost CEO of Smarkets and Lloyd Wahed discussed the evolution of Smarkets and how it is disrupting an old fashioned market in betting, and Jason’s own journey to create and lead this London based business from his early years growing up in the US.

Smarkets is on a mission to make betting online easier and less expensive “to get out of the way” of the consumer, and simplify what has become over-complicated, and to many inaccessible. Sport dominates online betting but he is a “politics junky” and his passion for politics and trying to understand political outcomes is clear and an important part of the Smarkets product range.

The company has been steadily growing for 13 years, and Jason explains how his appreciation of how quickly time passes has changed as he has learnt and matured himself. He is a fearless optimist and was always ambitious to do something big but wasn’t sure what it should be, in fact, he went to university without knowing what he would do, but once in the world of work he looked at the betting industry could see how technology could solve the problem of complexity and user experience and his focus crystallised.

On that journey, he has found that people rather than technology have been his biggest area of interest. Understanding the people he works with and how they work with each other is interesting. He is fully appreciative of how a diversity of interests and abilities can exist together successfully in a thriving business, but he sees a weakness in how people are so often not good at the hard conversations that are necessary to move a project on. He wants to “get the most out of people and help them be the best they can be” and his role is to facilitate that, but he sees a weakness in our societal inability to engage in “respectful good faith conflict”.

Jason’s view is that our society is at the teenager stage where we are uncomfortable sharing our own views and vulnerabilities, and as a result businesses can be slow to develop. Not everyone is driven in the way that an entrepreneur is but everyone can make the most of their opportunities with more frank and non-judgemental interaction, bound together through transparent targets for the future.

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