Insight: Five tips that no gambling start-up should ignore

Insight: Five tips that no gambling start-up should ignore

Friday, June 17, 2016 Totally Gaming
Gamevy's Helen Walton says her company has adopted a flexible approach to reach long-term goals

Helen Walton, Gamevy co-founder and marketing director, knows all about the fantastic highs and deep lows of launching a start-up.

Walton and her co-founders set up Gamevy in 2014, but despite a series of successes – including winning the Pitch ICE start-up competition at ICE Totally Gaming last year – she admits it has been far from plain sailing for the gamification developer. For all the highs, including signing up with operators such as Lottoland and The Football Pools, attracting some 600,000 plays and having given away more than £1m (€1.3m/$1.4m) in prizes, Gamevy has also faced all the kinds of tests and setbacks that can affect any company starting from scratch.

Walton will give the benefit of her experience in a presentation at a London Tech Week event organised by Gamcrowd – and supported by ICE Totally Gaming operator Clarion Events – next week (Tuesday, June 21). Here she gives gaming industry entrepreneurs her five top tips for giving themselves the best chance of success.

“These tips might sound paradoxical, but ultimately you must make your own judgements and find the right balance between the extremes,” Walton told “People often talk about success as if it is something that came straight away, but of course most success stories come at perhaps the founder’s third or fourth attempt."

1.     Focus on controlling costs, but give it your all

“Of any sector you could go into, gambling is one of the toughest to control costs as there are such high barriers to market. You must be sensible and keep your cost base as low as possible, you might also try to retain a full-time job while starting up the company.

“However, there are some expenses and time constraints that are non-negotiable. For example, getting a licence is a full-time role for nine months and not really possible to fit in with another job. The founders gave up full-time roles to launch Gamevy, and have forfeited salaries to give the company its best chance of success.”

2.     Ignore the naysayers, but listen to feedback

“By definition, innovation is something that other people aren’t already doing. There will be a lot of people who will say ‘you can’t do that’. We were told by a lot of people that our idea was stupid, and that skill-based games have been tried and don’t work. Our feeling was that games such as poker and blackjack are clearly popular, and that gamers would play our games as long as we could get operators to give them that opportunity.

“The key to success would come through us executing our idea correctly, and we felt there was lots of good advice we could take on that front. To not take any good advice from other parties is a sure way to die.”

3.     Stand out from the crowd, but be familiar

“At Gamevy, we have unique products such as our gameshow-based titles like 'The Heist'. They get a lot of attention for us and a lot of operators get very excited by them. The problem is that for all that positivity, they won’t sign a deal on those games alone. We decided some time ago that we needed to de-risk, and we developed games that were a proven winner for operators, such as digital scratch cards and slots, which millions of players are familiar with.

"Our portfolio offers a range - from really radical innovation to more familiar products - and it's that combination that encourages operators to take the full set."

4.     Stay flexible, but also focused

“At the outset of Gamevy we did not intend to be either a B2B supplier, build slots or translate games into Turkish! We have changed and made adjustments due to the business opportunities that have come our way. Some decisions have to be made to give yourself the best chance of achieving your initial plans. By all means make those compromises in the short-term, but make sure that they fit into the long-term strategy.

5.     Opportunity does not come begging

“If you want to do this you have to grab it, no one will hand you success. You need to want to achieve something, and wake up each day with the enthusiasm to make it happen. You must look hard into yourself, and question what it is that you want to achieve. I think has to be about more than just money, it also has to be about creating something you will be proud of. There will be fantastic successes on the way, but there will also be cash flow problems and occasions when you hit a brick wall – we worried that we might not get a licence at one point.

"Only through belief in what you are doing can you overcome those doubts and carry on forward.”

London Tech Week: ‘Our sector’s technology standards compare with those of Amazon – it’s time we let the world know’ - says GamCrowd's Chris North

* The GamCrowd conference takes place on June 21, from 8.45am-4.30pm. The conference is one of over 200 events taking place throughout the capital between 20-26 June. As part of GamCrowd's partnership with Clarion Events for Pitch ICE and EiG/GiGse LaunchPad, ten FREE passes are available for start-ups - email to see if you qualify. For more information click here.


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