Ramona Depares catches up with Esports Technologies CEO Aaron Speach after last week’s acquisition announcement.
The news that Esports Technologies has acquired Aspire Global’s B2C offering couldn’t have come at a better time when most of the igaming world was gathered together at IGBLive Amsterdam and the SiGMA Amsterdam iGathering.
The announcement sent ripples across the community – which, let’s face it, is known for enjoying a good old gossip – and there are no prizes for guessing in whose honour the champagne glasses were raised across those two-days of networking events.
Now that the dust has settled somewhat on the news, SiGMA caught up with the man behind the deal, Esports Technologies CEO Aaron Speach. And I launch straight into it: why Aspire? What will this mean for the brand and for the customers, in practical terms?
“As you know, last April we had the NASDAQ IPO, where we raised $14.4 million. This really catapulted us to go into M&A,” Aaron starts off, adding that this move drives the message right home: the esports market is massive.
“So you have this huge market, and then you have another massive industry, which is sports-betting. If you combine the two markets, it makes for a great story for investors, and it is what motivates people to invest in us,” Aaron says.
Why Aspire? Aaron smiles disarmingly and gives me a refreshingly straight reply: “Aspire spoke us. We looked at a lot of different opportunities, and we could’ve gone after any esports-focused B2C brand really.”
But what they liked about Aspire is the brand’s known focus on iGaming, which means that Esports Technologies are in a position to bring in a new element to their offering.
“So, not only do we grow the business wider by continuing our market efforts – we’ve really expanded our offering in Western Europe and North America, for instance. But we can also go deeper by cross-selling our esports tech on to Aspire’s current customers,” Aaron says.
The player profile, he explains, matches perfectly – 70% of the customers coming in from Aspire are between 18 and 40 years of age, which is exactly the demographic that Esports Technologies targets with esports.
Aspire and Esports Technologies are set to collaborate for a while longer, at least four years in fact, thanks to a managed service agreement that will see Aspire continuing to take care of the backend and marketing. In essence, clients will not notice any difference in operations, and will continue using their existing accounts.
“This is another reason Aspire was so attractive to us. We can now focus on enhancing our wagering experience for customers. We have a lot planned for the first quarter of 2022, starting with in-browser betting.”
In-browser betting does sound like a winner indeed. In Aaron’s words, imagine you’re watching your favourite League of Legends match and – instead of leaving the page to go play some bets – you’re able to place the bet directly in-stream, close the bet and continue enjoying the game you were watching. Sounds awesome, right?
There are other product launches planned. One that will appeal to the high-rollers is the hedgehog platform, which will allow the players to use a betting exchange directly for esports.
“So, basically, it will allow players to set their own odds and challenge other players to see if they can beat their own odds,” Aaron explains.
Malta is the place to be if you’re serious about the regulated markets
I move on to market trends – we all know eSports has been enjoying a steady growth, particularly due to live sporting events being cancelled as part of COVID-19 restrictions. Now that live events are back, how will this impact the eSports market?
“Well, it is very unlikely that we will continue to see the same exponential rise. The growth has been explosive in the past five years, so it’s not sustainable.”
What does this mean for the market?
“There are over 550 million eSports fans right now and 250 million of those are considered hardcore fans. If you look at American sports, the NFL for example, there’s only a 160 million fans, 80 million considered hardcore – and they do 64 billion dollars in wagers every single year. And that’s in a market where sports betting is not even fully legal.”
I guess what Aaron is saying is that the numbers are already big enough for the industry to be more than sustainable. I turn the topic to Esports Technologies itself – a relatively young company that set up shop in Malta. How did these guys find themselves here?
“We set up here because our goal is to be in the regulated market in Europe. There is a wealth of talent here in Malta, and we realised pretty quickly after coming out here that this is the place to be if you want to get serious about being part of the regulated markets,” Aaron replies, adding that he founded the group with the main intention of being the best esports wagering product that they could.
“We are proud to have developed one of the first one-click betting sites. You don’t need to open spreadsheets and be a professional gambler to use our product. We hit 60,000 users in a very short span of time, so that’s what Esports Technologies is all about. And in a year’s time, we will be offering a full sports betting suite of products and enhanced user experience for all our customers,” Aaron explains.
But even before that, in less than a month’s time, Esports Technologies will be hosting the eSports section during SiGMA Malta Week, showcasing one of the biggest booths centre-stage.
“We are so excited to be hosting the eSports tournament. Our VPs and executives have some great panels planned to show off our eSport technologies. It’s been a long time coming to introduce these products to the market. And we couldn’t be happier to launch during SiGMA,” he concludes.
Watch the video version of this interview here.
Save the dates for Malta Week:
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