Bengaluru-based, founded in 2020 by Vikas Goel, Utsav Umang and Rohit Raj, is a tournament discovery platform for gamers and gaming enthusiasts. The platform offers the opportunity for game publishers and brands to launch custom tournaments to engage users.
According to the reports published by games and esports research company Newzoo, the total global online gaming users stand at around 645 million, which is a mix of casual audience/gamers and gaming enthusiasts. This market is growing at 15 percent CAGR (compound annual growth rate and could be over 750 million by 2024.
“There are many challenges that esports startups face. This kind of an industry has actually not existed before,” says Vikas Goel, Co-founder of EsportsXO, a SaaS-based tournament discovery platform.
Esports XO, according to the founders, helps users tap into the opportunities presented by the segment.
“Yes, there were gamers still playing, but the economy was absent. It is only in the last three years, brands have started spending money on price pools, gaming creators and professional esports to engage the GenZ. This opportunity has in fact helped the youth and parents to see esports as a career option and take it up seriously,” Vikas adds.
EsportsXO says it will build an esports metaverse of fans and players and offer other micro-services in e-learning, merchandising NFTs (non-fungible tokens), content, and social networking.
“Using our new product ‘BattleXO’ which is yet to launch, we will build micro services for gamers, brands and game publishers and create a met-averse for fans, gamers, game developers, streaming channels and brands,” Vikas tells YourStory.
EsportsXO builds content using content creators, tournament IPs using different games with its own production team and studio.
According to Vikas, the startup has so far organized over 200 tournaments in the past year and out of which 15+ IPs (intellectual property) were created for very large brands, generating over 200+ million views and 1 million+ registrations.
EsportsXO has emerged as a bridge between tournaments and gamers.
“When we started EsportsXO, we noticed most tournament organisers were using open source tech to manage small and large scale tournaments. Also, discovering tournaments is a pain for players and professional gamers too. We launched our own platform to test the market and saw phenomenal results,” says Vikas.
The founders have seen the content industry up close. Vikas ran a digital agency for eight years before starting up EsportsXO and worked in the digital marketing space for more than 10 years.
Utsav worked for social content portals at a very early stage for the last five years and managed many Shopify stores while Rohit has been actively involved in building content sites, site optimization and app development along with Utsav for the last five years.
They met in Bengaluru while working on a Shopify store in late 2019.
“Due to COVID, the supplies got disrupted and we had to shut stores in April 2020. That is when we accidently found the problem in esports while playing PUBG (before the ban) ourselves in one of the third party tournaments,” Vikas says.
Funding and monetisation
In December 2020, the startup secured $1.1 million in a seed funding round from Mumbai Angels, We Founder Circle, SucSEED Indovation Fund, FAAD Network, SOSV, and other investors. The funds to be used for scaling up tech and non-tech talent acquisitions, aggressive marketing and operations.
“EsportsXO’s USP lies is the SaaS tool, built to focus on their product strategy, with other aspects creating a flywheel effect for the platform. This funding is a testament to their growth and progress, and we believe that it will help the platform reach greater heights,” adds Nandini Mansinghka, Co-founder and CEO, Mumbai Angels Network.
“We have invested over $200,000 from our own pockets. We plan to raise the next round in the next 9-12 months to power user growth and robust our teams,” Vikas says.
EsportsXO’s revenue model is based on fees and commissions from brands, game publishers, tournament organizers and professional players.
“Our billings are averaging over $200,000 monthly and we are expecting to double it in months to come,” says Vikas.
The way ahead
“Our target is first to complete the platform BattleXO and start using it with our brand partners and for our IPs. We have figured out over 10+ micro services to make money and scale the business in the future which we will talk about soon,” Vikas adds.
As of now, EsportsXO is focused on the Indian market, but since gamers are playing with each other across the globe, the startup also gets a lot of international players for its scrims and tournaments. “We are looking to expand beyond India once we reach a critical mass in terms of our user base and tournament operations,” says Vikas.
EsportsXO is a team of 16 people currently and it plans to add 15-20 more people in the next two months, which will be a mix of tech, operations and creative folks.
As per Vikas, “EsportsXO is probably the only company which is taken to develop an ecosystem to gamers, professional content creators, game publishers and brands. We are building our own tournament IPs, producing our own content using rostered creators, state of the art production houses and have our own tech to scale it. These qualities are rarely seen together, which makes us unique.”
The startup already has over 1.5 lakh registered users.