Jonathan Swerdlow is a passionately curious person. Since childhood, he would open up every new toy he received to see how the mechanism worked inside. From a very young age, he showed a lot of interest in technology and entrepreneurship, always trying to hack, break apart, and rebuild different devices.
It is no coincidence that Swerdlow thus created GamyTech, an Israel-based iGaming company that seeks to shape the future of mobile gaming. Swerdlow founded his first real online business when he was 16 years old. He created an e-commerce website dedicated to shipping books overnight and successfully penetrated the market with a proclivity to find the next best idea.
What sparked Swerdlow's desire to get into gaming?
"When Draw Something became one of the biggest hits on the App Store, I realized I wanted to create something similar," said Swerdlow. "I enjoyed playing with my friends so much that I wanted to leave my carbon print on all mobile games. So I co-founded a company focusing on bringing a more exciting social aspect to mobile game developers and consumers."
As Swerdlow immersed himself in the mobile gaming industry, he realized that there was an even bigger challenge for mobile game developers. All of them had struggled to make a living out of their passion. They had great products and innovative concepts, but possessed little to no understanding of business and player psychology. That is why Swerdlow decided to open a new company -- GamyTech -- that focuses on monetizing games through real money betting.
"I've always had an in-depth understanding of the online betting industry. I have been playing on PokerStars for a few years, and betting was always part of our culture at home," said Swerdlow. "This natural understanding of betting was a huge advantage for me when understanding how to monetize applications."
Why did Swerdlow strategically single out e-sports?
It is hard to ignore how big the e-sports industry has become during the past couple of years. The market size for e-sports in 2015 was estimated to be $747.5 million by SuperData Research. Swerdlow saw the numbers and noticed that game developers had a hard time monetizing their products.
"I wanted to make the entire industry more sustainable," said Swerdlow. "I was often betting with friends on board games or video games and I knew that over 5.5 million players played poker online for real money. So after doing some research I assumed there was a big market fit for GamyTech."
Swerdlow's company has released eight real-money titles on iOS and Android to date. He says that this strategy was one of the greatest decisions of his career.
Swerdlow sought to fill the gap.
"I have been watching the gaming industry grow, not just in numbers of games and players, but the way the industry has evolved technically," said Swerdlow. "I noticed a gap that could be filled by monetizing skill games, especially in the U.S., where gambling online is forbidden in most of the states."
The U.S. skill-based gaming market should grow dramatically, surpassing $9 billion in annual revenue by 2017, according to a national consumer study conducted by Frank N. Magid Associates.
Mobile games are enjoyed not only by a young demographic but by all. By implementing the same concept, but in different games, Gamytech is able to appeal to all kinds of people, with 2048 For Money attracting the younger crowds who are always looking for new apps, and games like backgammon for the older, more seasoned gamers.
As is the case for all entrepreneurs, Swerdlow has his struggles.
Swerdlow says that his biggest struggle is making sure that Gamytech's infrastructure is always growing according to its users. Additionally, recruiting the strongest experts from the industry was one of the first challenges he faced.
"From a legal point of view, doing all the research about the current legislation of skill games, hiring the right lawyers, and making sure we always combine technology and legal understanding to comply with the law," explained Swerdlow. "Being onboarded by payment processors, banks, and Apple itself was also time-consuming and demanded lots of legal expertise and due diligence to go through."
Finally, raising money is always critical for this type of venture. Swerdlow successfully raised $2 million in seed money from angel investors who were eager to share a piece of the pie. He is now seeking to add another $10 million in investment to enhance Gamytech's marketing operation.