Interview: Gaming Incubator relishing ICE 2015 'buzz'

Interview: Gaming Incubator relishing ICE 2015 'buzz'

Friday, January 30, 2015 Totally Gaming

Gaming Incubator is an established advisory company with extensive experience in land-based, online and social gaming. Co-founder Ben Dodds spoke to ahead of ICE 2015 to outline the company’s plans. What are most looking forward to at ICE? 


Ben Dodds: “ICE is always an exciting couple of days. It’s a great opportunity to meet with clients, catch up with colleagues and get a feel for the coming trends of the industry, and of course the general tone for the coming year. ICE 2015 is set to be an especially interesting exhibition for Gaming Incubator. There is a real emphasis on exciting new technology and operations companies at Pitch ICE, and we think the fact this is in a single zone will focus attention and create a real buzz.

“Although we have been established for five years, I am looking forward to utilising ICE as a public platform to announce Gaming Incubator to the industry at large. Up until now, we have been very much focused on building our own ecosystem and we are now pleased to be able to offer our expertise and services more broadly to entrepreneurs and companies in the industry. We are based in UK with Partners located in India, the US and Asia and have conducted business in over 65 countries so are very much a company with a global outlook.

“We’re really looking forward to meeting new entrepreneurs, seeing their concepts and offering any insight we can as a result of our experience of working with technology and operations start-ups across all areas of gaming. Plus of course we are keen to meet any investors that are interested to get involved with the Gaming Incubator’s validated opportunities at an angel investment stage.” With whom are you hoping to meet and network at the event?

BD: “Gaming Incubator is actively involved across all major parts of the industry including land-based, online and social. Our focus is on unique gaming technology, business models and operating opportunities. We believe that in mature markets with limited product differentiation our ability to recognise, qualify and support the growth of innovation makes us an ideal strategic partner, advisor and investor.

“Our service provision is led by our Advisory division which provides high level strategic, commercial and planning advice, underpinned by our Capital (Process and Execution) and ‘Hub Support’ divisions which provides operating support as and where required.

“Our current advisory activities include (to name a few) - i) projects related to game development for land-based operations; ii) product development for a new engagement and monetization product for casinos (ScreenPlay); iii) project management for online product development and operations; iv) sales and distribution for an innovative betting product designed to enhance the betting experience whilst increasing operator revenues (RewardBet); and v) business development for a comprehensive ‘product generating’ gaming platform providing a unique gaming experience and revenue potential to existing operators.

“We are hoping therefore to speak with companies that would be interested in accessing our expertise and support services, whilst at the same time interested to speak with companies interested in exploring a discussion with any of the companies in our existing client base.”

"Every company experiences the same challenges and opportunities whether large or small, whether technology focused, operations focused or both." - Ben Dodds What do you think the current challenges and opportunities are in the betting and gaming sector?

BD: “I think the current challenges can generally be referred to as the perennial challenges of the betting and gaming sector. I think it is also important though to note that alongside challenges come opportunities, so this is not such a bad thing all the time.

“Every company experiences the same challenges and opportunities whether large or small, whether technology focused, operations focused or both. Changes in regulation, changes in consumer behaviour, maturing markets, new distribution channels, access to capital (the right kind of capital), increased competition, increased cost of acquisition, pressure on operating margins etc. at some level affect all companies.

“I think Gaming Incubator really looks to address and to take advantage of opportunities as a result of these challenges in two main ways. The first is by working with new companies and concepts that are looking to leverage on the changing business environment. The second is by providing a low cost operations service via Hub Support that can address falling operating margins.” Similarly, given the service Gaming Incubator offers, what do you think are the key challenges for start-ups in the industry at present? 

BD: “If you speak with start-ups, whether B2C or B2B companies, you general find the challenges they have revolve around the same core issues. Namely access to capital, talent and sales. We have broken these down a bit further in the table below and have highlighted how we are looking to address these challenges alongside our clients, partners and investees.

Category / Challenge / Gaming Incubator provides:

Talent / Right talent at all levels / Access to a global talent pool

Budget Overruns / Delays in product development / Improved project planning and resident experts

Sales / Slow or lost sales / A source of sustainable sales growth

Scalability / Ability to pace and leverage on growth opportunities / A flexible organisation to leverage opportunities

Unpredictability / Global business conditions and changing customer habits / Diversified product and geographic interests

Cash Flows / Customers not making payments or paying late / A means to build cash flows and profitability via efficient cost base

Working Capital / Inability to obtain credit / Support to working capital requirements from within the Group

Cost of Capital / Cost or terms of credit / Leverage group free cash and track record to improve terms of credit Is there anything else you would like to add about ICE, Gaming Incubator or the industry in general?

BD: “Gaming Incubator’s strategic approach is to:

a) Find Raw Diamonds – Companies/Entrepreneurs that have a winning combination of the talent and drive to succeed together with a gaming concept/product with the potential to develop into a scalable and profitable business;

b) Polish the Diamonds – The period in which we provide Advisory and Hub Support services to our clients to support and accelerate traction and profitability; and

c) Leverage on Scale – Where we provide access to our Network and Ecosystem together with our Hub Support services to support profitable growth.

“Our core value to our incubator clients rests in our ability to provide top level advisory services whilst supporting operations with a subsidised low cost central operating Hub. For investors we are attractive as we provide packaged opportunities with the aim of delivering the ‘diamonds’ whilst supporting and leveraging growth.

“We work very hard to support teams and companies that have the potential of having an immediate and long-term impact, and we welcome the opportunity to meet and discuss immediate and future opportunities with entrepreneurs, companies and investors at ICE 2015.”

Ben Dodds is co-founder of Gaming Incubator and he has been advising gaming start-ups since 2009. He will be resident at the Gaming Incubator booth N7-366.

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