The founding partner of venture capital firm SierraMaya360 Amish Shah, a company which invested a ‘seven figure sum’ into Team EnVyUs, recently launched two new firms under the brand ReKT; ReKT eSports agency and ReKTJobs.
Clearly they are big believers in the business of esports. So we thought we’d have a chat.
Here’s what the Founder of ReKT, Amish Shah, had to say on investing in esports, finding jobs in the space, Mark Cuban and ReKT itself.
ESI: How do you gauge a worthwhile investment in a team, and moreover how do you attribute a value to an esports organisation?
Amish: I’ve been looking into the space for two years speaking to players, teams, corporations, lawyers and key influencers taking it all in and being something of a sponge.
We wanted to find a team that had a solid brand, reputation and founder. After we spoke with over 25 teams we were impressed the most with Mike Rufail (Hastr0) from Team EnVyUs, he fit the bill as a pioneer in the industry and we loved his vision.
At SierraMaya360 our value proposition is “Bridging Hollywood, Sports and Technology” using our 360 approach that helps founders with all the tools to be successful so it was a no brainer to get into a team. Nevertheless, I see tons of teams right now looking for investors and a lot of valuations sky high so it’s an interesting time in esports right now with all the money pouring in. I said recently in a Yahoo eSports article that we’ll have a lot of carnage (NRG in League of Legends getting relegated) with dumb money and a lot of good deals also that will happen with traditional pro sports owners entering the space.
Obviously, we were early believers in the space and hope to make a lot more investments in esports related startups in 2017 and beyond.
ESI: What are your thoughts on Mark Cuban’s recent comments that player burnout makes esports teams a worrying investment right now…how can the industry as a whole amend this?
Amish: It’s funny, I love Mark. We’re invested in some of the same companies and if you compare it to the NBA then yes he’s got a point but it also depends on what game you’re discussing.
If you compare it to the NFL for instance the average lifespan is around 4-6 years whereas in the NBA it’s longer…just like the ages and life spans are different across League to CSGO to Starcraft.
I also increasingly see both players and teams taking better care of themselves more with nutritionists, physiologists, exercise and an overall better quality of life. Mark’s one of the funnest owners who takes good care of his players so all he has to do is do the same with a team and the longevity of the players will increase under his ownership.
ESI: Can you update Esports Insider readers on goings on in Charlotte and the Team EnVyUs partnership?
Amish: We’re working with the City on locking down a venue. In addition the team has relocated a lot of their operations to Charlotte. They are loving it as the Overwatch team along with others are here training, living and working. We should have a good update in the next few months on updates.
Don’t be surprised to see a similar tournament like that which just happened in NYC at the Barclays Center in Charlotte next year.
ESI: What market research went into launching ReKT’s agency and jobs platform?
Amish: I’ve had a handle on the jobs platform since the 90’s as I have another company Millennium Search that’s had clients including Fanduel, SeatGeek, SAP, Oracle, etc and watched job boards such as Monster, TheLadders and other niche platforms all be successful.
Then along came LinkedIn but I just don’t feel the esports community embraces it like other industries have. As such I wanted to find something authentic that esports stakeholders can trust and relate to. This is how we came up with ReKTJobs. The name itself is authentic; I asked numerous people from the esports world from players, owners, lawyers, fans and they all knew what ReKT meant. Team owners, corporations and students and job seekers who were employed all wanted to break into the esports space and didn’t know how. I wanted to solve that problem with ReKTJobs.
With ReKTAgency it’s simple. We want to bridge the gap between traditional sports and esports. I kept getting hit up by professional sports owners, athletes, celebrities and others who all wanted to invest or know more about the esports space. This was in addition to teams, sponsors, leagues and players who all wanted to get connected with others in my network so I decided let’s start an agency that can solve that problem as most agencies are traditional digital type agencies.
We already have clients at ReKT Agency from major pro sports owners who want to bring esports to their team and build a venue, to teams who want investors and sponsors so we’re off to a running start!
ESI: Is the esports industry developed enough to sustain or necessitate a standalone jobs platform in 2016? For instance what types of paid full-time jobs are you expecting to be the bulk of jobs posted in the coming months?
Amish: It’s only been a week and the response has been overwhelming with tons of positive press, feedback on social media and more and more companies posting jobs and internships daily.
It’s real, it’s now and we’re helping bring awareness and a one stop shop for candidates to sign up one time and be able to apply to hundreds of jobs. We have jobs in every area from Content to Development to Sales to Marketing to Interns on the site.
Moreover, we’re really excited about the ReKTU-niversity section we’ll be re-launching over the next few weeks which will showcase esports programs at colleges and universities. This will offer scholarships, internships and jobs catered to students. There’ll be lots of other fun stuff on ReKTU that you’ll just have to check out after launch!
ESI: Which stakeholders is the agency primarily aimed at? Are you be hoping to help mould that first esports professional to break into mainstream celebrity status in the States and Europe?
Amish: ReKT Agency bridges traditional sports and esports solving business problems. It’s not the typical agency that’s already in the market, we’re more of an agency that’s typical in traditional sports. We’ll help with M&A, Strategic Advisory Services, Venues, Sponsorships, and more. We want to differentiate ourselves since we have a vast trusted network most agencies don’t within including pro sports owners, executives, athletes, celebrities and brands and can bring together key people from both worlds.
North America has been making big moves over the last year and I expect it to continue to increase its market share over the next 12-18 months. We’re in a hot space and positioned well for the future. Get REKT!