Despite the hundreds of millions of dollars flowing into esports and competitive gaming from large game publishers and big brands, the global landscape is very much still the wild west on the business side of things.
After spending time as a co-owner of Team EnVyUs, Amish Shah, founding partner of venture capitalist firm SierraMaya360m, knows this first-hand.
“Here you have all these sponsors writing six-or-seven figure checks and no one has it figured out on the business side,” Shah told AListDaily. “We found the esports market is devoid of senior management-type people who bring best practices to the marketplace, and we’re uniquely suited to do that with our management team.”
That was the inspiration for ReKTGlobal, Inc., a startup that launched last September and has raised $2 million to date, mostly through sports and entertainment investors. The company is focused on a number of business opportunities, including connecting esports teams with traditional sports teams and venues across multiple sports through ReKTVenues.
“The big vision is that every city is going to have an esports venue—that’s happening now, and that every professional sports team has an esports strategy,” Shah said.
ReKTGlobal co-founder and CEO David Bialek, who spent 25 years in traditional sports marketing, said the company is already working with professional teams and entertainment spaces across the country.
“We’re taking the unused days in these venues and transforming them into esports experiences, or more broadly, gaming experiences or viewing parties,” Bialek said. “This will allow traditional sports teams and venues to tap into the elusive millennial male. There’s a symbiotic relationship with this initiative.”
Bialek noted that the NBA, NFL and FIFA have been proactive with numerous pro sports teams’ owners already investing in esports teams, but no one has cracked the code on how to have a model that works for the venues.
“ReKTGlobal’s venue model offers a customizable approach to finding offerings and solutions for both pro sports and non-sports venues,” Bialek added.
Shah said traditional sports owners realize they’re losing millennial fans to esports. Plus, there are hundreds of nights that sports venues go dark. By connecting esports with traditional sports venues, teams can develop relationships with millennials through competitive gaming.
Another area the company is focusing on is ReKTLive, which Bialek said will focus on live festivals and events.
“We’ll be announcing a joint venture with a preeminent experiential festival operator in the US, where we’re creating a gaming and VR experience that we can drop into existing festivals to attract millennials and entice existing customers to stay longer, and eat and drink more,” Bialek said. “We’re also going to be creating stand-alone gaming festivals that will quickly be pervasive throughout the country.”
ReKTGlobal is also targeting university and jobs verticals by focusing on esports devotees and those interested in either working in the space, or getting scholarships within the collegiate market.
Rounding out the executive team is Kevin Knocke, vice president of esports, who brings experience from working in the games industry at companies like IGN, Blizzard Entertainment and Ubisoft. Knocke said his knowledge of the esports business will help traditional sports and entertainment companies better understand how to connect with fans.
“ReKTGlobal was the first company I saw to take a profitable, long-term-minded approach to the esports industry, and the first to truly understand what it takes from a professional sports perspective to leverage high value brands and locations,” Knocke said.
Shah said new deals will be announced in the coming months, but ReKTGlobal is already working with teams, tournament providers and Twitch-like, esports-centric platforms of the world.
“We have creative things going on with esports teams and pro teams,” Shah said. “These new ventures are designed to help bridge the gap between the multi-billion-dollar business of traditional sports and the burgeoning business of esports and competitive gaming.”