Vancity Entrepreneurs: Battlefy

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A couple days ago it seemed like the NHL might come back soon –  it’s not. On a recent feature, we helped ease the pain and gave you the alternative option of getting into other sports with your friends via a social betting platform. This week, we’re diving into a whole new world that you can join alongside its 300 million active fans – welcome to eSports. Here you can play, spectate, organize, and win trophies – all from the comfort of your home. Justin from Battlefy, sheds some light on how him and his fellow co-founder’s platform is helping the massive community of eSports in Vancouver and globally. 

1. Who are you? Tell us about your business/core idea and how it got started.

I’m Justin, co-founder of Battlefy. Battlefy is an online platform for organizing, playing and watching eSports – the competitive play of video games. Imagine two teams of dedicated, well-trained athletes battling it out for fame, money and the chance to etch their name onto the most coveted trophy. But imagine, instead of sticks and pucks, they play with keyboards and mice. That’s what eSports is about.

We started Battlefy because we are gamers. We love to play video games competitively. As eSports gamers ourselves, we understand the passion of the communities and also the problems they run into when organizing tournaments.

2. How did you get into eSports? How big is this industry and how fast is it growing?

These days I’m sure nobody has to think too hard to name someone they know who play video games. 1 in 4 people between the ages of 15 to 30 play games competitively. The eSports community is 300 million players and growing.

The first game we’re supporting on our platform is called League of Legends. They just released some staggering statistics. League of Legends now has 70 million registered players and there are 12 million active users each day – more than Instagram. League of Legends is the biggest video game on the planet right now.

3. What kind of challenges has your team had to face and how have you mitigated them?

Some investors we talked with have never played video games before, and it was definitely a challenge explaining what our startup is about without them having any context beforehand. We needed a way to conceptualize the competitive video gaming market so that anybody would understand it, and we came up with an analogy comparing eSports to more traditional sports, such as hockey or basketball. 

The analogy worked very well, and it’s really satisfying to watch when that lightbulb turns on for someone and they realize that people watch others play video games just like people watch athletes play hockey.

4. Tell us how you fit into the broad category of video games and how this service is different from everything else that’s out there.

eSports is the competitive play of video games and it spans many different genres of gaming. Some of the most popular eSports games right now are League of Legends, Starcraft II and Counter-Strike. Each of those games are from a different genre and this is a reason competitive gaming can capture such a large audience.

Battlefy is built to provide that tailored eSports experience for our organizers, players and spectators. While there are great tools for creating generic tournaments out there, Battlefy can be catered to the different games, allowing us to provide features like displaying contextual player stats, customizing different tournament structures and broadcasting events to social media.

5. How does this improve the city of Vancouver? What is the real world problem you’re solving for your users?

Vancouver, to me, is the ideal city for us to start Battlefy. There are a lot of gaming startups in Vancouver and some of the biggest gaming companies have development studios here. This is because there is a lot of software talent in Vancouver who are passionate about gaming. Battlefy aims to become the unifying platform for running successful competitive gaming experiences. Our hope is that Battlefy will help to spread the excitement of eSports in Vancouver.

6. What’s your advice for current or future entrepreneurs?

The best advice I’ve received is to make sure your service or product is solving an actual problem. You want to be providing value to your customers by solving their pain points. This makes all aspects of your business easier to communicate and to validate.

Another important piece of advice I take to heart is to embrace failure and to fail fast. The worst thing that could happen to you is spending years of effort and money on a project, only to realize that what you’re working on is invalid. Especially with web and technology startups, there are many quick and cheap ways to validate your ideas. 

Failure is a great learning opportunity and it will prepare you to be humble and to be able to handle the successes that follow with the right attitude.

Whether I have you sold on turning to eSports as a healthy alternative to the NHL lockout or not is besides the point. The point is that there is a absolutely colossal community of people doing the same thing you see in sports today. I personally had no idea the eSports world was so popular and that it went as far as winning trophies and actually having fans who watch and follow just like you do in hockey or any other sports. It’s definitely an overlooked market amongst tech startups and to see another GrowLab company pounce on this opportunity is fantastic.

You can follow Battlefy on Twitter and Facebook.

Stay in touch @pauldavidescu

*Vancity Entrepreneurs is a weekly feature on the city’s most notable entrepreneurs or startups that are making Vancouver a better place. If you think your venture deserves to be on the series, send paul@vancitybuzz.com an email explaining why*

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Paul Davidescu Founder of Tangoo, the pocket concierge app that delivers the most personal and seamless way to organize the perfect social outing at restaurants and social venues matched to your mood: (www.tangoo.ca/app). Former editor of Vancouver Entrepreneurs series, UBC Sauder alumni, public speaker, startup mentor.
@pauldavidescu

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