Interview: EsportsXO’s CEO and co-founder, Vikas Goel sheds light on India’s eSports future and the role of their platform in its development | Digit


We had the opportunity to converse with Mr Vikas Goel, Co-Founder, EsportsXO, who shed some light on the SaaS platform. EsportsXO is a platform that connects brands to upcoming content creators and aspiring gamers.


Q. Can you tell us a bit about eSport xo? What exactly is EsportsXO? 

So the idea of eSport xo was conceived in somewhere in April 2020. I’ll give you the background of the other two founders. When both of these guys are very young, I met them during a conference. And these guys were doing some fun and exciting stuff in dropshipping, which was very big thing in 2020. A lot of people were making a lot of money in Shopify stores, so I got naturally attracted to the idea and I told them, ‘Okay, I’ll put in some money’. You guys handle the store, I know how to the products. So we started a store in January. It ran into trouble in April because the supplies ran out and we could not ship products from Shanghai to us. 

That’s when they told me, Okay, there is a game PUBG and a lot of people are playing and you can talk, you can, you know, watch, you can obviously share screen. So I played this just for fun for a few days, and I understood that this market is very fragmented, and we decided to okay, let’s launch our own app within the first 16 days. And we decided, okay, to organize these tournaments, which are otherwise being organized on WhatsApp and Discord. In the first three and a half months, we got over 1,40,000 installs without having spent a single penny on Facebook and Google advertising.


And that’s when we realized, okay, this idea is too big. We need to register a company, and put in some more money. And by the time we could do that, by October, the game got banned. So we pivoted out and the story quite unfolded. You know, we got into other stuff, we did some agency work, we spoke with a lot of players, we built our own teams, and then, you know, we decided to scrap up the old tech and started working on the new tech. We realized that this idea is so big that I cannot support it individually. So I decided to raise money. And that was another journey. We never raised money. I’ve always ran profitable companies before. So we learned how to work this out. We found a circle, found us, and they led that round, and we raised about $1.1 million in December 2021.


Q. So, you guys are essentially tournament organizers, right? So you would be the people to go to if I say I want to host a tournament or maybe start a league or something for any game, or is it just specific to certain games? 

When we started the tournaments, organizing is our core skill. But over the last nine to 12 months, you know, somewhere around July 2021, we realized, we can’t spend all the money by ourselves, so we need an investor to fund this. And secondly, it has to be a sustainable model. So we twisted the idea a little bit. We made it a marketplace. So a marketplace functions where there are two parties. One part is people who are discovering new tournaments and playing those games by not going to WhatsApp or Discord. They have an option to discover these tournaments at the same time. And, while in the quest to discover tournaments, they’re essentially discovering new games as well. That is one part of the story, which, which is where we are very good at as well.


The second part of the story is there are brands, game publishers who want to reach out to these millions of gamers wanting to play games, and there is no such thing as a marketplace until today. So we decided to twist a dynamic. We built a SaaS for these game developers, and brands to create their own tournaments and reach out to millions of users within the first 15 minutes. So essentially, we are a discovery platform for gamers and also a launch platform for games and tournaments for publishers as well as tournament organizers, or it could be branded.


This is what makes EsportsXO stand apart from other tournament organizers. It’s essentially, it’s now it’s more of a marketplace and a platform for these different kinds of people to actually interact.

Over 116 billion will be spent on mobile game advertising. 2022 alone, this number will jump to 200 billion by 2030. So imagine, you know, 70% of that money is going to Google and Facebook right now today, right? Okay. But none of these networks guarantee engagement. They’ll just render it out. So you can just go on and click on it and you will just download the app. But what good is the download? They’ll charge you 17, 18, 20, or 30 percent probably to get you an install. 


None of these networks will guarantee you success in engaging the users. We will go one step or five steps ahead and say, Okay, hey, we will charge you 50 per cent, but your games will be played because I know so much about the gamers who are coming on my platform. You know, if someone comes on a platform, he is playing Pokemon, I know he doesn’t like shooting games. Why would I render ads on shooting games? Let me show the games which a current developer wants to launch through my platform. You know, so this is the kind of intelligence that, which is an I.P. which makes it easier for game developers to launch their games in India.


Q. How exactly does this system benefit, an up and coming gamer or a new gamer who’s looking to go pro?

If you, if you continue to play, if you explore this opportunity of coming and playing tournaments, getting ranked and creating enough, continue to get notice, you have an option to make money, you have an option to, you know, become a professional gamer. You also have an option to, if you’re not playing actively, if you’re not a gamer, you can still make your career in casting, you can still be a technician. There are hundreds of roles out there, which nobody knows, which, which we can probably give you access to. So this is how, you know, a gamer’s journey is. They never become famous on day one. 


Now, let’s say, I’m a gamer. I want to stream and I want to make billions of dollars. No, you have to start by playing games first. You need to download and find a game that you can play good and become, excellent across maybe three to four months, five months, six months down the line. Once you do that, once you have built that repetition within the Indian gaming scene by constantly performing in a particular game, you get noticed this is how models and scouts were built, right? They got to noticed only when they performed in domestic, international, and other podium finishes. They got noticed by brands. That’s how they get invitation from domestic and international competitions. So we’ve understood that journey very clearly. And, uh, eSport is probably the only platform which can give them an opportunity right from the day they start playing. 


Because we are tracking their behavior, we are building our own data links wherein we are trying to profile every gamer possible in the world, ranking them in person tiles or ranking them in the top a hundred, top 50 of a particular game, giving them an opportunity to get them showcased by giving them enough tools to either stream or to either edit their own content, to either manage their own work or workflow when they work with, let’s just start working with the clients. So the whole journey from no one to becoming a professional gamer, there are a lot of stuff and we are trying to solve that problem using the tech on, which is the product that we built.


Q. Now, let’s say for example, if I were a content creator, how would I go about the process to be affiliated with EsportsXO? 

If you’re playing a game, which we don’t support, for example, PUBG, we don’t support right now, but BGMI we do or rather did. So they have to pick up the game that we are supporting, number one. Number two, they reach out to community managers. There are five or six such managers who are very deeply connected within the gaming community. Number three, sometimes they also drop in through our social media channels. They write a message to me, LinkedIn, I will send it to the team, and they will do the trials. They will also look at their visibility in the market, how good or bad they are, and if they are looking to be a part of the professional team and that’s all. Then we come to the ideals. Ideals are the captains of those teams. If they like it, we probably recruit them and put them under a roster. If there is something there that is not working out with us, we could probably give them access to the platform and ask them to organize their own tournaments. If we feel they’ve reached a certain level, we might also, you know, sponsor some of the events that these guys are organizing.


Q. India has had its ups and downs when it comes to eSports. We’ve had a bit of a sporty history. So, where is India right now when it comes to funding eSports? Like is there interest? What’s going on?

See, any idea which comes to India, If you look at historically Flipkart in 2006, 2007, if you remember, did not have many buyers, right? They were running ads, like how to buy, why online shopping is better, etc. Now, if you see their level completely different. It takes time to mature the industry. We are probably at the same stage where Flipkart and the rest of the ecommerce scene was in 2007, 2008. A lot of things will happen in the future. So if you look around, there are a lot of automations which is coming into picture. Now there are driverless cars, there is Amazon Alexa who can switch on a light switch off the fans, which are being adopted at a fast rate. So people will have more time in the future. What will they do with that time? Find things which can enter in them. Okay? So eSports as a whole is one of the things that most of the Gen Z find it very entertaining, and that’s where our thesis is also based. 


People who are born around ’98, they’re not essentially going on playing cricket like I did in my age. They’re playing with phones. They’re playing with consoles and PCs, and this is happening while we talk. And when we go out and talk to investors, they’ve already have figured this out. They already know too much about this. You know, they see it as one medium wherein generations are getting inspired. They found new way to make money. They found new way to connect with each other. I also sometimes look at social media. I was in college 2006-2007, I heard for the first time about Facebook. Now the kids who are, who are probably 18, 19, they find their new friends within PUBG and other games, and they can even meet offline. So there are new economies which are being built these days. So naturally they, investors have figured out, we have strong interest from a lot of investor. In fact, we raised $1.1 million. That is a validation that yes, there is an interest in the market.



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