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< Contents ERCIM News No. 61, April 2005

Student Programming Project becomes Multi-Million Dollar Company

by Nancy Bazilchuk

Everyone likes a sure bet. But two computer scientists who have their Master's degrees from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology have found a way to turn bookmaker's odds into money in their pocket with a clever information-gathering program.

Petter Fornass, co-founder of Norwegian Market Monitor AS.
Petter Fornass, co-founder of Norwegian Market Monitor AS.

In March 2005, the two graduates - now entrepreneurs - moved their rapidly growing business, Norwegian Market Monitor AS, to new headquarters in Trondheim, Norway.

The program developed by Petter Fornass and Tore Steinkjer, who studied for their Master's degrees together at NTNU, uses a high accuracy wrapper to crawl the Internet and collect information about the odds that have been set for 25 different sports across the globe. About 300 sites are regularly checked for information. This technology has become, which monitors odds and is updated every few minutes.

"Since we are collecting numbers, everything has to be 100 percent correct," Fornass says. More than 100 bookmakers around the globe now use this web-crawling technology. Because even small differences in odds can result in huge losses for bookmakers, bookmakers can use to check to make sure the odds they have set for various sporting events are in line with odds set elsewhere on the planet.

Petter Fornass is now CEO of Norwegian Market Monitor AS, which owns and operates His interest in developing an information collection technology began with a simple desire to finance expenses associated with his master's degree in computer science at NTNU. He developed a web-crawling program with Steinkjer that allowed them to check and compare hundreds of websites for betting odds. The program enabled the pair to find differences in odds for the same sporting event. With this information, they could then place sure bets that guaranteed a win.

But as Fornass and Steinkjer discovered, placing bets and playing the odds can be cash-intensive, even if you are always guaranteed a win.

They were also far more interested in the programming challenges of their project rather than the financial benefit in and of itself.

Fornass and Steinkjer launched their company from their offices at the Gløshaugen campus of NTNU in 2000. The launch was a little more unusual than most: instead of participating in the Venture Cup competition in Norway, the business plan competition that helps Scandinavian students, researchers and others to take their business idea from concept to actual start-up, Fornass and Steinjker decided to look for venture capital on their own - and found it. In late March 2005, the pair moved their rapidly growing business out of the Innovasjonssenter Gløshaugen to new offices on the Trondheim waterfront. Among the products developed by the group is Sports Fixtures, which reports starting times and dates for hockey, soccer and tennis matches and other sports, with daily updates on more than 10 sports one week in advance. Results are delivered 2-3 times per day.

Another key service is called Odds Radar, which detects the odds and starting times from more than 140 bookmakers. Bookmakers can view 8000 odds and 2000 starting times of their competitors each day, and are provided a comprehensive monitoring service of more than 200 Internet sources for odds each day. The monitoring module shows the odds key that was used in setting odds and the odds history and date changes for each bookmaker detected as a part of the program. The service allows bookmakers to compare their odds and starting times with the market average, with alerts of critical differences by e-mail or SMS. The program also detects incorrect results, errors from typos or matches that have been missed or left out, and presents the official schedules from federations or tournament organizers if available on the Internet.

The company employs 27 people, with 10 employees in Norway, 13 employees in Germany, three in Switzerland and one in Czechoslovakia, and more than 100 clients spread across the globe.


Please contact:
Petter Fornass,, Norway