The eSports (competitive video game) industry is red hot right now, with streamers gaining prominence as celebrities and brands take an interest in sponsorship. It opens the door for middlemen to help bridge the gap between said parties and craft arrangements whereby brands believe they are winning while streamers may find new sources of income.
That is the idea behind Flood Gaming, an eSports talent and marketing agency. It offers gamers/streamers sponsorship acquisition, negotiation, relationship management and personal branding guidance. Brands are provided talent spotting and management, program/campaign development and execution, and proprietary analytics for performance tracking.
Flood Gaming's founder is a financial sector veteran who decided to drop wearing a suit for a passion project in eSports. He had the confidence to leave a secure job to take a risk on a startup with no guarantee of success, which truly takes an entrepreneurial spirit.
A Surprising Niche
"Our view has been that the eSports industry is lacking professional representation for the athletes and content producers," explained Goldberg. "Most are under the age of 25 and do not necessarily have the skills or experience to translate their talent into a meaningful income stream."
Flood Gaming looks to cure two problems in eSports: (1) athletes and content producers do not seem to be getting what they deserve in existing revenue streams (i.e., team salaries and direct sponsorship dollars do not reflect the value being created); and (2) these individuals are not marketing themselves to create new revenue streams (i.e., there are billions of dollars of untapped advertising dollars that are ripe to be spent in eSports).
An entrepreneur looks to fill the space when he sees a void and an economic opportunity. Goldberg's company wants to increase the share of eSports revenue that goes to athletes and content producers. That was compelling enough for him to leave his comfortable job in search of a solution.
Leaving the Financial Sector
Prior to creating Flood Gaming, Goldberg had been working in the financial sector for close to 14 years, first as a management consultant, followed by management roles at JPMorgan and AIG. The position at AIG was within their data sciences team and it turned out to be not a good fit for his skill set, which had evolved over time from analytics to strategy and operations.
"I was in the middle of conducting a search for a new role, when Flood's lead investor, who I've known for over 10 years, approached me with an idea to build a business within the eSports space," said Goldberg. "The original idea was for me to operate the business until I found my next job in finance (and then hire someone else to run it), but after several months of working on it, I decided it was the right time in my life to take a risk (and also a break from the financial sector)."
Goldberg has been reassured about his decision to enter the world of eSports. In his words, he finds that he "flexing business muscles that I never have in the past and the learning curve is naturally very steep."
Goldberg is comfortable that even if Flood Gaming does not work out, he is confident that being a part of the emerging eSports infrastructure will reap rewards down the road. Lacking fear of failure is important for entrepreneurs in eSports and all other industries.
A Gameplan for Success
Flood Gaming is still a fairly new company and whether it is ultimately successful is yet to be determined. However, in the quickly growing space, Goldberg is somewhat of a veteran and has some insights on what is required for progress in eSports.
"I think the keys to success right now are flexibility and opportunism," said Goldberg. "We are constantly re-evaluating our business model and thinking about how the business will be different in six months. In addition, we are continuously looking for other opportunities in the market that may have nothing to do with Flood Gaming. Just by being in the scene, you meet people daily who are doing very interesting things and many are looking either for investors or partnerships."
Becoming Successful in a New Industry
Goldberg is very bullish on the future of the eSports industry. It would make little sense for an entrepreneur to push all in without ultimate confidence that the industry as a whole is destined for success.
"Growth will continue it's torrid pace for the time being," said Goldberg. "That means more eyeballs, more pro players, greater prize pools and bigger sponsorships. I think the big question right now is, who is going to capture the lion's share of the value from the eyeballs?"
The eSports game developers are currently capturing much of the surplus revenue, but more value may flow to teams and athletes over time. Goldberg is banking on that change, as it should directly influence his company's success within the space.