With your abilities, knowledge, experience and skills, you have helped lots of iGaming startups to launch and be successful. When and why did you decide to start your own business? Could you briefly describe this process and explain in which state is Mobius Interactive right now?
Precisely for the reasons stated above! I have spent the past six years or more consulting to the gaming industry, on both the B2B and B2C sides of the business. I love nothing more than assisting companies going through a startup, as it is a frenetic time of strategies and go-to-market campaigns, which speaks directly to my high energy levels and enthusiasm for our industry. I got to work with so many diverse and interesting people, ranging from the novice to mature industry professionals. Being able to give of my abilities, skills and knowledge gained over the years was a truly fulfilling experience for me. The best part is seeing the companies grow and succeed and continue along their journeys based on the solid foundation that I had helped them to implement. It was and still is wonderful, as I follow individuals and companies and applaud their achievements. I was in Malta when COVID-19 started to rear its ugly head and I left to return to Cape Town, South Africa, to look after my elderly parents. My mother was really concerned that the pandemic would take hold and I would be unable to return for a long time, which, as we all know, turned out to be true. This situation has really affected us all on a global scale. At the same time, Nick de Freitas, VP of Marketing, had been trying to start a gaming company for almost a year, and he suggested that I use all my experience and join him in starting the company while stuck at home during the lockdown. I contacted then a colleague in Vancouver, Gary Eldridge, who agreed to become our mentor and investor, and handle the investment side of the business, while Robin Lawson (COO), Nick and I put together our plans for going live with three diverse brands. We signed up with the award-winning Esports platform UltraPlay, and worked long and hard throughout 2020. In the process, we laid the foundation of future success, and reached to all our collective affiliations, including bringing on board strong and experienced gaming staff within the Customer Service department, which in turn allowed us to focus on the marketing deliverables and the markets we wanted to enter for launch. Right now, Mobius Interactive Ltd is in the process of obtaining licensing from the regulated markets we want to enter, but, as this does not happen overnight, we decided to go live in regions that are still grey areas for now. As they become regulated, we will apply for licensing in those regions.
Which are the products and brands your company is offering to players?
Currently, our products include Esports, sports betting, casino and live casino on all three brands. However, once we gear up and grow our in-house team, we will add on more gaming products, like fantasy sports, virtual sports and poker. Our brands are rather interesting. Even though they are really skins of each other at the moment, they seem to have taken on a life and personas of their own! We surveyed several ex-colleagues, friends around the world, media companies and affiliates globally. They all seemed to come to the same conclusion, so we are incredibly happy that the thoughts we conjured up originally for these brands fit well within the same narrative and feedback given. Mobius.Bet is our main, flagship brand, which is targeted at the younger Esports and sports betting players, gamers, and enthusiasts alike. We will be running online and offline tournaments and sponsoring Esports events with this brand globally. We believe this brand will be hugely popular in Latin America and will be launching in Brazil soon. Clubdouble.com is our glitzy old Hollywood/Las Vegas like product, reflecting the club scene of the 50s. This is a perfect match for the Indian market, which translates well to Bollywood lifestyle of glitz and glamour. Clubdouble is focused by default on the lucrative Indian market and we are going live this month, as the cricket IPL kicks off. Our Country Manager India, Danny Rana, has been working in this region for a number of years and brings on board a super team of freelancers, influencers, media, creative agencies, and affiliates who have assisted us in getting to launch. Finally, AragonCasino.com is our medieval fantasy, knights in shining armor, Vikings brand. It is already popular in Canada, New Zealand and Europe. Surprisingly, it seems to be very attractive to the CIS region as well!
Last year proved that digital engagement from people was not a trend, but an increasing reality. Verticals such as online casino, virtual gaming, Esports and online poker, among others, have grown a lot in 2020, and still are! Land-based operators have seen this situation as an opportunity to take a big leap forward and enter the iGaming sector. How can your company help them to do that transition in a proper, ordered and effective way?
Yes, the online gaming world certainly flourished during the pandemic and the lockdowns resulting from that! If you look at the investment markets, every day seems to bring another deal of astronomical proportions; it’s almost surreal. I personally think online gaming companies have a huge advantage right now, as they basically have a captive audience, looking for entertainment while being stuck at home. On the other hand, the land-based casino industry has not fared as well overall. A number of land-based casinos had to close their doors during this pandemic and are now feeling the pinch, so it would be understandable that they would want to look for opportunities to merge with a reputable online gaming company, which would give their business the opportunity of targeting a much broader player base 24/7. I would advise that they should consider a merger with an online gaming company, for several reasons. Even though online casinos have live dealers in virtual studios, what could be better for the land-based casino than to showcase their own dealers online? These are dealers that their regular player base already knows, so the trust factor and familiarity is there, and giving all the benefits of the land-based casino, including their loyalty points and MVP status, so that the experience is seamless and stress-free. Also, they should take into consideration that the number of casino slot games in the online world is immense, with really interesting themes. The game mechanics are designed to entertain anyone, from the recreational player, who plays low to medium volatility games, to the experienced player who wants high volatility with a better chance of winning big and fast! The games also appeal to the younger target markets, like the typical Gen Z and Millennial Esports enthusiasts and players, with a lot of the slot games mimicking this environment. There are also retro and branded games online, which appeals to the Baby Boomer market, as a number of these games have been taken from the traditional land-based casino environment and reworked for the online gaming community. Mobius Interactive Ltd is looking forward to partnering with a land-based casino, preferably in the Latin American market.
How important are affiliates in your business plan? How can Latin American gaming industry create and expand a stronger network of affiliates in the different markets?
At Mobius Interactive Ltd, we firmly believe that nothing beats building good relationships with our affiliate base. We see them very much as partners in our business and we are partners in theirs, both working towards mutual success in the iGaming industry. Relationship building and good communication are keys to a successful affiliate business. Communicating the vision of your company and what you plan on doing in different jurisdictions to your affiliate partner makes him more aware of your wants and needs as a client. Even though he may not be able to service all your immediate needs towards growth, he will be aware of what you are seeking. So when he comes across an opportunity, you will be the first person he thinks of contacting and offering any additional service to. You will be top of mind. Affiliates who are in it for the quick buck generally show their hand upfront, where they are not prepared to negotiate, or even listen as we go to great lengths to explain to them our strategies for growth. It is easy for us to know in advance who is interested in partnering with us or not. Those that are interested have access to whatever they need for us to help them to succeed, because they are treated as trusted partners in the business. In that way, it is a win-win situation, as we grow together in strength and prosperity!
“An awesome, dynamic and committed leader/ Fearless and passionate/ A true professional, always at the forefront of technology/ A hard working individual, with great communications skills/ A person with infectious energy, great sense of humor and passion for the work she does/ She is very detail orientated, highly creative and a complete perfectionist/ Fully commercially aware and focused on achieving business objectives.” These are some of the opinions about you made by your colleagues and the people who have worked with you. How would you describe yourself as a leader? What is your leadership style to better transmit your ideas to your collaborators? Which are the principles that best express your work ethic?
Such wonderful accolades, wow! My leadership style can be determined by two words: “Be Fair,” to your staff and to your company. These may seem easy words, but it is not always the case, as sometimes you have to weigh the two together in order to achieve company goals while, at the same time, giving your staff member(s) what they feel they need in order to succeed in the business and in life, outside of the company domain. I am sure many of your readers would appreciate the difficulties that can sometimes occur when trying to balance the wants and needs of staff while trying to grow the business. However, the way I generally overcome this dilemma is by giving the staff the ability to determine their own KPIs in line with the business goals and strategic growth direction. Being transparent with your staff as far as possible, having open communication and really listening to them goes a long way in helping them determine what they want to achieve within the company, what their aspirations of career growth are and how they feel they will be able to reach their personal and professional goals. Then, it is up to you, as a leader within the company, to help them grow and achieve these goals, giving them the necessary training, mentoring, and monitoring their progress with regular feedback and encouraging them when the going gets tough, which it does on occasion, especially within our industry, which seems to go through numerous and unexpected changes, as we all know only too well. As a leader in the company, there are also times when you recognize talent in one of your staff members, in a direction that they did not choose. In those cases, you need to be truly brave in speaking with them and suggesting a career direction more suited to their personality and style of delivery. Some staff will not take kindly to this, as they have their hearts set on a particular discipline or skill. If you do not take the time to at least give them the option of pivoting in a new direction, you could be doing them a disservice for their success in the future. I have had to do this on more than one occasion, and I am grateful and thankful to know that my advice has been followed with much success, resulting in the switch to a different role within the industry. Having worked with so many gaming companies has given me a really great opportunity to nurture young talent, and when they take your advice and come back so much stronger and thank you for their meteoric rise in the industry, well, it does not get much better than that!
About some of your personal interests, you have studied classical ballet, and you love interior decoration, fashion, travel and shopping. You have also lived in the UK, Czech Republic, Costa Rica, Malta and South Africa. What can you comment on these hobbies and personal experiences?
I started classical ballet at the age of 4 and years later received a bursary to the Royal College of Ballet in the UK, but my parents refused to let me go because they felt I was too young to be on my own at that time, so I decided to train underprivileged children to give them the opportunity to succeed. The happiness and seriousness of the children to learn and grow and the proud look on the faces of the parents really inspired me to continue for as long as I could before I was threatened and forced out of these areas by a combination of the local gangsters and the apartheid government. I then turned my artistic talents to creative direction, interior design, and fashion. After a number of years, the travel bug caught me. I started working in different regions around the world, getting to know and experience the cultures, while living and working in the UK, Costa Rica, Prague in the Czech Republic, Malta and then back home to Cape Town in South Africa. This is a port city and very cosmopolitan, with a crazy mix of cultures from all over the world. Having grown up in Cape Town certainly helps when travelling anywhere globally, as it is easy for me to mix and mingle with people from all walks of life, and experience the beauty of their cultures and traditions.
What is the best marketing strategy to attract the young generation of gamers used to playing Esports and virtual gaming, in order to monetize their passion and drive revenue?
Gaming companies with big enough budgets often own a number of Esports teams, thereby ensuring maximum visibility. If you do not have that kind of budget, the best marketing strategy to use would be to sponsor Esports teams and use a certain percentage of your marketing budget to include teams in various stages of maturity, from the casual teams starting up, college teams, including sponsoring companies who offer online and offline Esports events. Sports gamers and enthusiasts are known to be very loyal to companies offering sponsorships, especially to the teams they support. Whether you are the headline sponsor or even a sponsor gifting them merchandise or team gear, they will acknowledge this and will support you over other companies who do not. I have been a proponent of Esports for many years, and, as a gaming consultant, always suggested that sports betting companies include Esports in the lineup of products offered. At Mobius, we are also lucky to have Robin as our co-founder and COO. He used to be the COO of esports.com! In fact, while we were still busy building the brands, we were already approached by several companies for sponsorship of online and offline events!
Looking for the future, how will your company take advantage of this scenario? What are the main challenges and opportunities for Mobius Interactive over the next few years?
The main challenges are the same ones that most of us in the gaming industry live with as startups: grey markets in regions that should have been regulated by now, but are not, as the Government and/or the Gaming Commissions either keep moving the goalposts, or they make the deal untenable, to the point of not being able to be truly profitable, due to taxation and other monetary obstacles. Licensing and regulations are a long, drawn out process, which costs time and money, both not readily available as a startup in the gaming industry and trying to get out of the starting gate. However, the opportunities for us as co-founders and for our team are enormous, due to the combined experiences we have encountered separately and now together, as a team focused on what we know will work, not just for the short-term, but for long-term success. Our passion and enthusiasm for the business has not wavered. We have crossed many hurdles to get to this point, but that has only ensured that we have a solid foundation as a springboard for being able to go forward with confidence. We are currently integrating our interactive loyalty and gamification programs, on top of our innovative Solitics CRM player journey, which is going to be amazingly popular with Esports and sports betting players alike, whether on desktop, tablet or mobile. Couple this with our online brand exposure and offline tournament sponsored events, and you will soon be seeing our unique brands displayed everywhere our SEO, social, media and affiliate partners can place them. It’s showtime!