Digging into the World of Esports and The Blockchain with Roderick Alemania, CEO of ReadyUp.

This week on the Tech Cat Show



Speaker 3:                               Welcome to the Tech Cat Show with host Lori H. Schwartz. Each week we hear from established leaders in the technology and consumer industry. Finding out the scoop should never be this much fun. Now here is your host, Lori H. Schwartz.

Lori Schwartz:                      Hi everybody. Lori H. Schwartz, here. Tech Cat here sounding a little nasally, but still, the show goes on no matter what happens to the Tech Cat. Today we are going to talk to someone who’s going to educate us on two big trends right now. One of them is gaming and esports which we’ve been talking about on and off throughout the last couple years, but it’s so hot right now what’s happening in gaming and esports. Then also a bit of the blockchain too as the blockchain as infrastructure and as that big tablet in the sky that everybody is leveraging. So we are going to introduce now Mr. Roderick Alemania, who is the CEO of ReadyUp, and Roderick and I have known each other for a long time. He’s a serial entrepreneur involved with a lot of different companies in the Internet space and on the mobile side of things, on the blogging side of things. Almost any Internet trend, Roderick has been there, so let’s have a big Tech Cat welcome for Roderick Alemania. Yay!

Roderick:                                 Hey. Thanks for having me.

Lori Schwartz:                      The audience just has gone wild for you, of course. We’re going to talk about ReadyUp which is your new company, and it’s a community for gamers but before we get into ReadyUp and all the great things that you’re doing, give us a little sense of your background. Because you really have touched on such a variety of different trends in your career, so maybe a little taste of how you navigate and what you decide to work on, because that in itself is fascinating.

Roderick:                                 Sure, sure. So you know, the non related fun part of my career was I actually was a GO at Club Med, but we won’t go into that. But I’ve been really fortunate in my career. I started off actually in media planning at Anderson Lembke, and we were a B2B shop and Microsoft literally handed us all their business. Microsoft had this little piece of software called Windows 95 launch and they didn’t have anyone that really cared about the Internet, and I was a newly promoted media planner and so I was on a team of three people who was told, “Figure out the Internet for Windows 95,” so I have this awesome claim to fame where I had literally launched Microsoft’s first foray into Internet marketing with the launch of Windows 95, and it was through that process I actually met Infoseek who literally was one of the first search engines out there pre Google.

Roderick:                                 This is again, 1995, and Infoseek pioneered attaching marketing and advertising to keywords, and I was literally the first salesperson that they hired. I had just made the transition as a media planner to this startup. I didn’t know what stock was but they gave it to me, and kind of the long story short at Infoseek was we went public and then when we got acquired by Disney and I had this really interesting time of four years there where we literally pioneered search marketing which now obviously Google has perfected.

Roderick:                                 From there I actually went to IGN Entertainment. If you’re familiar with gaming they run IGN.com, and it was a really interesting time. This was about 2001 now, and this was when gaming really started becoming more and more mainstream and I worked in ad sales and business development there and it was a really interesting story because the company went private at around $26 million. We had this really rapid user base of male gamers and the company started creating more gaming lifestyle content in addition to traditional gaming content, and we had this enormous growth and literally in 2005 we ended up selling to News Corp for $650 million, and it was this really interesting rocket ship. Being at the right place, right time. I definitely worked my tail off, but we were kind of at the forefront of gaming when gaming became a lot more mainstream, and that was kind of a precursor to what we’re doing at ReadyUp. We actually created an esports league that was called the Championship Gaming Series that News Corp ended up funding, and it was kind of like my first taste of esports since it was a league.

Roderick:                                 I’ll give you more of the Reader’s Digest version of the rest of my experience. I worked at Vudu which was a set-top box that was delivering high definition content to your TV through a peer-to-peer network, and what was interesting about that was this was when digital distribution was relatively new and when we were talking with the different studios like Fox or Disney, they were concerned about DVD sales. And now as you know, digital distribution of content is pretty commonplace, whether it be movies or music. I worked in blogging when blogging first became really popular with Typepad, and then after that I worked on the mobile side with a company called Tapjoy and we got a lot of brands. Kind of entered the space through doing value exchange advertising where allowing consumers to engage with advertising and we would reward them with virtual currency in the games that they were playing. So that’s kind of the Reader’s Digest-

Lori Schwartz:                      Roderick, I just want to interrupt you because I think what’s so interesting here is you’ve named four or five companies that have all been on the edge of the latest trend or the hottest space at the time with search and mobile phone and gaming back then, and so I’m so curious, how do you know what is going to be hot as an entrepreneur? Because it seems like you are able to tap and land right where the hot space is. Is it just luck, or do you have a feeling about something? Or how do you determine as an entrepreneur what you’re going to jump in on?

Roderick:                                 It’s a combination of luck and building a strong network of people that have been advisors and mentors. I’ve always been enamored with what’s the latest and greatest new thing, and I don’t know if it’s a function of me having ADD as we all do as adults, but I’ve just always been fascinated with new technologies. I’ve always kept a strong personal network of friends and colleagues who were at these interesting companies, and I just connected with them and they gave me these great opportunities. So it’s a combination of definitely luck, being at the right at the right time, but also hard work and just it always pays to be nice to everyone, and that’s really paid itself back in spades.

Lori Schwartz:                      I like that, that it always pays to be nice to someone. Alright, so now you find yourself jumping into a new company, ReadyUp. Tell us about ReadyUp and how you made the decision to jump in.

Roderick:                                 Sure. ReadyUp, the vision of what we’re trying to do is really to be the connector, the epicenter of esports and gaming. In the short term that means that we’re going to go after the esports community, and when I say esports I’m really defining esports as it could be someone who wants to be a pro gamer, but it could be someone who just likes to play games competitively with a group of friends. They may have no aspirations to be pro but they’re just playing for the sake of a competition.

Roderick:                                 There’s three pillars to ReadyUp. It’s meet, compete, and get better. Think about meet as being almost like LinkedIn for competitive gaming, so helping players find teams and teams find players. This was a really interesting component when we started concepting the company. We knew that one of the problems that esports had was that it’s hard to find people to play with that you like.

Roderick:                                 We originally thought that we were trying to help people find the best players that they could possibly find so they could go out and win, and what we learned through the process of talking to the publishers, the league, and then the actual teams at all different levels was that in many ways what we were doing is solving a social problem. Gaming has really become a way that people socialize, and at the pro level obviously it’s different. You’re trying to find the best team because you want to win because it’s your livelihood, but what we found was that people are just trying to find their crew of people that they can do gaming with, and that it wasn’t all just about winning. It was just about finding the crew of people that you really want to play with.

Roderick:                                 And so the first component of what we’re doing with ReadyUp is meet, and we literally think about it as LinkedIn for gaming. I’m creating my gaming resume that shows me how good I am at games, but it might also be my opportunity to express myself. What are my Twitch stream, my YouTube clips? What other games am I interested in? What other things am I interested in? It’s basically a way for you to express who you are as a gamer. Are you casual versus competitive? So that’s the meet component. Does that make sense?

Lori Schwartz:                      Yeah. No, totally. Now before you dig into compete and get better we’re going to take a break, but I love this idea because I know that everybody is trying to understand brands, advertisers. Businesses are trying to understand what’s in it for them in this world of gaming, and so this is going to give us a nice understanding of the culture that we’re dealing with and how just like in any other environment, this has to be operationalized in order for people to dig in, and so what you’re really doing is helping to land the plane on what can sometimes be a very fuzzy world, right?

Roderick:                                 Yep, absolutely.

Lori Schwartz:                      Alright, well we’re going to be back in a moment with Roderick Alemana. Alemania. Sorry Roderick.

Roderick:                                 No worries.

Lori Schwartz:                      Who is the CEO of a company called ReadyUp who has basically touched every major trend in the world, so I think that all of you should stalk Roderick after this podcast because he has the Midas touch for trends. So we’ll be back in a moment to learn more about ReadyUp on the Tech Cat Show.

Speaker 3:                               This is the Tech Cat Show with Lori H. Schwartz. If you want to find out more about our show, or to leave a comment or question, send an email to Lori@TechCat.tv. That’s Lori@TechCat.tv.

Lori Schwartz:                      Hi everybody, and we are back tackling one of the biggest trends to hit our world right now, and that’s gaming and esports, and we’re talking to the fabulous Roderick Alemania who’s the CEO and co-founder of the new company called ReadyUp which is basically like a community for gamers, but there are many pieces to it and Roderick was just taking us through the meet part of this, which is all about finding players and other gamers for the social aspects of all this. So you were going to take us through the other two pieces. The next one is compete.

Roderick:                                 That is correct. Compete was pretty interesting. It was actually inspired by me being a team manager for my son’s baseball and soccer teams. I also did some coaching, and one of the hardest things when you have a team is to keep it organized. Who’s on the team? When’s practice? Who’s actually showing up? All those kind of logistic things that are incredibly important if you want to have a team, and the old school way of doing that was I’d use a spreadsheet, Facebook groups, text messages, emails, and it was a complete mess.

Roderick:                                 Then along came this web-based application called TeamSnap, and it literally changed my life as a parent managing this team because it did all those components. That actually inspired ReadyUp originally because we realized that most of these esports teams, and there’s a lot of them out there, they’re using the old school way of how I used to manage my kids’ teams and they’re feeling that pain and as we talked to more and more of these team managers and teams we realized. We showed them what it was. They were like, “Oh my god, this is amazing.”

Roderick:                                 So what we’re building in the compete phase is literally team management for all these teams. What you’ll also find in these esports teams is that sometimes they can have a lot of churn because a lot of these people playing games, they’re actually adults. They’re just not kids. And you’ll have churn on your team so if you need to add new players you go back to the meet component of ReadyUp and you and can add players as you have churn in your team. So that’s compete. Does that one make sense?

Lori Schwartz:                      Yes, totally. Because I’ve also been a mom. Not the mom managing the soccer team but the mom engaging with the coaches, and I have found those different communities very helpful because they track the silly things, but like, who’s bringing snack or what the scores are or any of that, and it’s fairly important to keep on track of all of that especially when you have everything else going on so I love the idea that you’ve again operationalized this piece of it. Now you mentioned the third piece which is get better. So get better at gaming, or get better like my sinuses are killing me right now get better?

Roderick:                                 Well, definitely sinuses because sinuses and esports are directly correlated. No, I’m just kidding. What’s interesting about esports is that it very much mirrors sports. The needs, all the sensibilities mirrors sports, and just as in traditional sports, people want to get better. They want to train. They want to have really cool experiences like for example, in basketball these rich people would love to go play a fantasy basketball camp with Michael Jordan, or in my case, I’m a Golden State Warriors fan. My son went to Steph Curry’s overnight camp, and the whole get better component is all about a global marketplace, because gaming is obviously global. It’s a global marketplace where gamers can consume these services, like coaching, or find a really cool experience that they want to consume and purchase it. And this is an actually interesting component where we introduce blockchain.

Roderick:                                 What we’re doing is that we’re introducing a token into the ecosystem. We’re partnering with the GG Project Foundation which is creating this token called the GG token, and what we want to do is enable this global marketplace for people to buy coaching services. You could buy coaching services from a really high end pro, or you might find someone who isn’t pro but you look at their ReadyUp profile and you still see that they’re a really talented player and they could help you and improve your game.

Roderick:                                 On the flip side, you might want to purchase an experience. So case in point, Johnathan Wendel who goes by the gamertag Fatal1ty, he’s my co-founder. He’s a 12-time world champion. He won games like Quake. He made over half a million dollars playing games, and he’s been retired for the last 12 years but just last year he was ranked number one in North America in a game called PUBG, Players Unknown Battlegrounds, and a perfect example of using the marketplace is someone like Johnathan, or a streamer, or even a celebrity like a basketball player could go in and create these experiences where they could interact with the community and the community might be able to purchase an hour of playing games with Johnathan, or it might even be, “Hey, I want to hire you to be my private coach.”

Roderick:                                 And so the perfect use case might be, and again this is the global nature of it, let’s say that I’m a 21 year old FIFA addict who lives in the UK and they want to train this 49 year old guy like me who lives in the Bay Area in FIFA. I could now hire this person at whatever we decide is the rate. I pay him in this cryptocurrency called the GG token. I don’t have to worry about exchange rates because the currency obviously is universal, and long story short, this guy in the UK has now commercialized his expertise in FIFA in ways he hasn’t been able to do so in the past, and I as a player have been able to get better, and now when I play my friends in FIFA I’m going to start kicking their butt and they’re going to figure out, “How did this guy get better?” Does that make sense?

Lori Schwartz:                      It totally makes sense and it’s very logical, and can you take us through? We did a whole series on the blockchain and cryptocurrency, but take us through a little bit about this token concept.

Roderick:                                 Sure. One of the reasons, what’s interesting about ReadyUp was that we originally, we’re not like the typical token companies where we got this token idea and let’s launch a token offering. We had all these concepts before we even looked at the tokens, so we had a great standalone business before we even introduced the token in it. What really convinced us that the token was the right place was I met with a friend of mine who’s a VC and has invested in the token space and he said to me, “Hey Roderick, you know what? You have an audience in gamers that understand virtual currency. They know how to transact to it. It’s not as if you’re teaching them how to do something new. They’re not scared of technology. They’re early adopters of technology so they won’t be fearful of the friction required to transact in virtual currency.” In fact more importantly, you have a real team.

Roderick:                                 I’ve been lucky in founding this company. The group of people that have surrounded me are all people who are highly accomplished in their own right in their own disciplines, and they have the chops to build out this really interesting experience that we’re calling ReadyUp. And as we started unpeeling the layers and I started going to blockchain conferences I realized you know what? This is right. Gamers understand virtual currency. Let’s treat what we’re doing with the GG token, with the GG Project Foundation, treat it like a virtual currency. Reward people for doing high value actions on ReadyUp. Let’s introduce concepts like value exchange advertising to this token. Where people choose to engage with advertising, they’re rewarded with this token that’s a virtual currency. If they want to consume these awesome experiences they can use the token to transact.

Roderick:                                 So a lot of what we’re doing with this token is already preexisting behavior by consumers and gamers, preexisting behavior by publishers who create virtual currencies, and value exchange brings in businesses who are on the outside looking in at crypto and it gives them the opportunity to experiment with crypto without them having to transact in tokens because they’re basically doing business as usual. They’re buying ads, then on the backend we’re converting it into crypto. And so all those things just made perfect sense to us. A valid use case of a token and it’s a crypto, an audience that understands it, and a product that can execute all two of those things.

Lori Schwartz:                      God that’s so cool. I just think it’s so smart to not only build what you’re building but also build it with that monetization piece in mind, because so many of these great ideas don’t think about the business piece. They worry about the business piece later, and that’s to the detriment and I think part of why you’re being so smart about this is because you do have such a long history of entrepreneurialship and attacking these trends in a smart way. Now besides the token as a way to activate all of this, what other kinds of partners are you bringing onboard as part of the business model?

Roderick:                                 What’s interesting about the token. We’re a partner of the GG Project Foundation which will govern the token. We’re thinking about the token as being a platform, not just for ReadyUp but for anyone that is a publisher. That could be a video game publisher. It could be a blogger. It could be a streamer. It could be a video game league that has tournaments. And each one of those businesses has KPIs that they want to achieve that drives their business. In a media business it’s, “I need registered users.” In a tournament business, “I need people to basically enter the tournament.”

Roderick:                                 And so what we want to do is we want to take this platform, this protocol, and work with other applications outside of ReadyUp and give them the ability to reward consumers for doing high value actions so that’s the earn. That’s the value to the businesses. Then for the consumer, it’s all about, “How can I do things which I’ve never been able to do?” Which is essentially, drive income for my passion around gaming.

Roderick:                                 I can now make money as a gamer. Right now I can do it by being a streamer and creating content, but now if I choose to engage with advertising. If I do these high value actions that I was probably going to do anyway like enter a tournament, I can now start offering services on a global basis. These are all completely new revenue streams that this token opens up.

Roderick:                                 What’s really interesting when you think about it Lori is, I’ve worked in a lot of media companies and they’ve been centralized media companies, meaning that, perfect example. These companies build their business on the data and participation of the consumer, and what the consumer has really gotten in the past is the utility of whatever we’ve been offering them.

Roderick:                                 Consumers are very marketing savvy. They realize that their data is being monetized by these companies. What this protocol now allows the consumers to do is start sharing and participating in the revenue that their participation or their data provides, and I think that’s a really powerful thing to do because now it kind of aligns everyone’s incentives. The publishers are driving people to do high value actions, and the consumers are actually getting paid to do these high value actions. And keep in mind-

Lori Schwartz:                      I’m sorry. We’re going to need to take a break in one second and I want to come back to this, but and just something for you to think about to answer when we come back, but do you think that consumers are going to understand their role in all of this? I know that millennials and younger want to own their data and want to see benefits from giving their data away, but do you think it’s a concept that’s going to require some cultural change and some training?

Roderick:                                 I think this audience is incredible media savvy, marketing savvy. They know they’re being marketed to. They know that their data has value, so this just opens up the opportunity for them to get something back in return that’s financial.

Lori Schwartz:                      Oh that’s really smart. It’s really smart. Alright, well we’re going to take a break and I want to talk more about some of the trends that you’re seeing in this space. Things around esports and gaming and traditional games and consumer behaviors, because it’s such a hot area and such a combination of a variety of behaviors, and where you see people jumping in and things like that and where you see this going. So we’re going to be back in a moment with the fabulous Roderick Alemania who is the CEO of ReadyUp, which is a new community. I mean, what would you call it? A social platform? I mean what’s a good way to describe it?

Roderick:                                 Yeah, really it’s a community for the gamers to find each other, connect, and play games with each other.

Lori Schwartz:                      Yeah, it’s a community for gamers. And a place where you can manage your team, stay connected, and improve your game. All those wonderful things that you were mentioning, and really for gamers of all levels which I think is really important because we all know about the pro side of this, but I don’t think people know that there’s an amateur part of this too and people that are just engaging purely occasionally, not hardcore. Anyway, we’ll be back in a moment on the Tech Cat Show to learn more about this fabulous esports space and how it’s being tokenized with Roderick Alemania.

Speaker 3:                               This is the Tech Cat Show with Lori H. Schwartz. If you want to find out more about our show, or to leave a comment or question, send an email to Lori@TechCat.tv. That’s Lori@TechCat.tv.

Lori Schwartz:                      Hi everybody, and we are back talking about ReadyUp, a new community for gamers in esports, and also a new community to play in on the token side, on the cryptocurrency side, in order to let people benefit from their own data. And we’ve been talking to Roderick Alemania who is a serial entrepreneur who’s the CEO and co-founder of ReadyUp and Roderick was just setting up for us the three pieces of ReadyUp. The fact that it’s a place to meet gamers, to compete with gamers, and then to improve your skillsets. What are some of the other trends that you’re seeing in this space Roderick as you dig into the build out of ReadyUp?

Roderick:                                 Well you know, probably the biggest trend is that it’s not just about the hardcore. Perfect case in point is look at a game like Fortnite which is beginning to find itself as an esport. They have 125 million registered users in probably less than a year. Everybody’s playing it. Not just what you would stereotypically classify as a hardcore gamer. I mean we’re seeing a lot more females enter the space of gaming. Again, this is a small sample set but from talking with people in the industry and the folks at Epic, we’re actually seeing a lot of … You’ll see high school girls going out and playing Fortnite before they go out. That’s a completely fundamental different change of what you would see from a typical gamer.

Roderick:                                 So probably the biggest trend is that it’s becoming a lot more mass market, which is why we as ReadyUp, obviously at launch we’re going to serve the hardcore but we got to keep in mind that there’s this whole mass market group, and so part of the trend that we’re … And what’s part of our values as ReadyUp is to be a very welcoming community, at all levels of play. You don’t just have to be the hardcore gamer.

Roderick:                                 Other trends which really drove the business decision on this is just the enormous growth of esports in general. Case in point, the audience in 2016, and this is Newzoo data, was about 281 million people. In 2018 it’s 380 million and in 2021 it’s going to be literally a half a billion people, but when you look at the total gaming audience worldwide of what’s defined as active gamers, and I don’t know how they’re defining active but they call it active gamers. It’s 2.2 billion people. That by definition is a crazy amount of people, and they’re literally driving gaming to being a $108 billion industry.

Lori Schwartz:                      Now, can I ask you just to step back for a second and in a way define esports? Because we know that it means you’re playing a video game against other people and it’s all online, but what else defines esports. I know it’s streaming. People are watching people playing, which is a new trend in the last few years with Twitch and things like that where you’re actually watching other gamers game, but is that the definition of esports that it’s a video game online that community is gathering around?

Roderick:                                 Yeah, I think that’s a fair definition to it. To me it’s ultimately a form of competition using video games at the end of the day, and again, when I say esports most people think of the pros but it could be a group of people who just get together on a Thursday night and they want to do a raid on a game, and they’re competing. They’re having fun. But to me they’re part of the esports community. They’re playing at a completely different level from the pros but at the end of the day they love gaming and they’re passionate about it and it’s what they do. It’s how they have fun.

Lori Schwartz:                      What I noticed the other day, I have an eight year old girl and she likes Minecraft but she’s really mellow about it. She plays an iPad version of it and she started watching on YouTube videos of other Minecrafters, so now she’s starting to understand that people stream their building on Minecraft, and so I could see the next step being playing games and then watching the stream and then getting into all of this. Do you think that the general public based on these numbers is going to adopt like that? I mean, she’s only eight, and thankfully I check what she does and I noticed she was doing this and I was fine with it, but I didn’t show her how to find Minecraft videos on YouTube. She just kind of figured it out herself.

Roderick:                                 You know what’s interesting? So I was in Romania two weeks ago meeting with our developer and we had an event where I spoke with my co-founder Johnathan and one of our investment advisors Carter Lipscomb who worked at PlayStation, and someone asked me about, when does this thing hit TV? And my answer to that was it doesn’t need to hit TV. It’s already here. Look at the Twitch numbers. Look at the viewership numbers of things like League of Legends.

Roderick:                                 I’m 49. Growing up it was all about TV. It was all about the movies, the big screens, but when you look at this demographic, especially the millennials, it’s all about consuming stuff on a stream that’s not your TV. So I think by definition, your daughter finding these videos, that’s her form of entertainment. Gaming is this generation’s form of entertainment, and just as we grew up watching basketball or football, which they still watch. When they watch these really high level people play, whether it be on their phone or an iPad or what have you, they’re getting the same experience of being able to translate, hey, what this person just did in this game is hard. It’s the equivalent of someone dunking a basketball, and they understand how difficult it is, and it’s entertaining to them.

Roderick:                                 A lot of people didn’t get Twitch. It’s like, “Why do you want to watch people play video games?” And the reason why they said that was because that’s not what they grew up with and that’s what this generation is growing up with, and the numbers don’t lie. I mean literally advertisers go where the eyeballs go, and these eyeballs are on these platforms like Twitch, which is by definition not necessarily on the TV.

Lori Schwartz:                      It’s absolutely crazy when I think about what’s happening. I think the most challenging thing for advertisers, especially those say in their 40s or 50s is it’s just not an organic behavior or concept for them. It’s not something that they do themselves or that they understand. They just know it’s happening. Now, demographically I’ve heard a lot of conversations about where esports is initially very fanboy based, but now women are coming up and strong, and is it 50/50 yet? Is it still 70/30? Who’s playing?

Roderick:                                 You know, it really varies by game. Some games are very heavily male skewed. I think I saw a stat and I’m trying to remember what I took the other day to talk about Call of Duty and it actually had a pretty high composition of female players relative to something like League of Legends which I think skewed more male. So when you look at the aggregate gaming audience it’s definitely more male skewed, but by game it really kind of breaks out in its own different community. Now keep in mind, esports is across different game titles. It’s a very umbrella term, so when you think about esports, each one of these games is its own kind of property, just as the NFL is for football and NBA is for basketball. League of Legends is for League. Counter-Strike: GO is for CS:GO players. So on and so forth. Each on of those have a different audience that they attract just by definition of how the content is created.

Lori Schwartz:                      It’s very interesting. I went to E3 and I had heard about Fortnite. I was reading about it, but when I saw their huge display and then they had this incredible booth, and then the amount of people that were dressed up as characters from Fortnite, and then the fact that it’s a fairly typical kind of game. Like, why do you think Fortnite has hit so big and is so globally popular?

Roderick:                                 To me Fortnite, just the way they’ve executed has been really, really smart. It has the building of Minecraft and it has all the cool sensibilities of this first person shooter, and then it also has the whole concept of battle royal. The Hunger Games. There was a game. The precursor to Fortnite was PUBG, Players Unknown Battlegrounds. Still a huge game in its own right, and that game really pushed this whole concept of you throw 100 players in a map. You create this mechanic where the map gets smaller to force people to fight.

Roderick:                                 As a gamer it’s just a really cool experience, and Fortnite’s done this amazing job of combining that mechanic and adding in that mechanic of Minecraft, and iterating it on the fly. Perfect example. When Avengers came out they had a weapon where you become Thanos. I mean, that’s really, really smart, and it’s mass market appeal. And you get guys like Drake playing against Ninja. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that. These two guys played on Twitch and it was crazy amount of people watching these guys play.

Lori Schwartz:                      It was epic, right?

Roderick:                                 Yeah.

Lori Schwartz:                      And Epic is the name of the company that created Fortnite, but what I think is also interesting just behaviorally is the virtual asset piece of it. A lot of these games and a lot of the apps just even in your iPad are all about buying additional things to make your play more enhanced, and with Fortnite it’s as simple as dance moves, which I just think is the funniest thing in the world but they’ve made it really fun too.

Roderick:                                 Absolutely. Absolutely. Literally what really validated us to co-found ReadyUp was when we met with the game publishers and we realized what drives their business is engagement, because the more people play a game the more they have a higher propensity to spend on virtual currency. And what we’re doing is we’re trying to connect people that like each other, and if those people like each other they’re going to play more, so that’s in the best interest of the publishers. Same thing with the tournament organizers who also will be a partner of ours. If they’re playing together and they like each other they’re going to want to play in more of these tournaments. They’re going to want to stream more. So we really see ourselves as this interesting partnership piece to the gaming ecosystem. We’re organizing people in a way where we’re encouraging more engagement across the board.

Lori Schwartz:                      That’s awesome. That’s totally awesome. Alright, well I want to find out more about how … I know you’re launching in September. Is that correct?

Roderick:                                 That’s correct. We’ll have a beta starting in the September timeframe and then we’re going to be rolling out new features. So meet and compete will launch in the September timeframe, and then the get better component will probably launch in the new year next year. There’s a lot more build that goes onto that when you’re introducing something that’s blockchain, but we’re fortunate enough to have an awesome group of people building this, but that’s the general timeframe.

Lori Schwartz:                      Great. Alright, well when we come back you’ll tell us a little bit more about how we can stay engaged with ReadyUp and what are some other things that we should be looking out for as you develop the community out further, so we’re going to be back in a moment with Roderick Alemania who has been taking us through some great trends in esports and how we’re bringing this new world of blockchain in it, and then also just how crazy and exploding this business is and how wonderful it is for you yet again to be as an entrepreneur sitting at the center of the storm, so I think I’m going to have to stalk you moving forward. But we’ll be back in a moment on the Tech Cat Show talking about esports.

Speaker 3:                               This is the Tech Cat Show with Lori H. Schwartz. If you want to find out more about our show, or to leave a comment or question, send an email to Lori@TechCat.tv. That’s Lori@TechCat.tv.

Lori Schwartz:                      Hello everybody, and we’re back. We’ve been talking to Roderick Alemania who’s the CEO and co-founder of ReadyUp, a community for esports which is also going to involve some blockchain to really capture that data and to authenticate the transactions that are happening in that environment, and also to give consumers the ability to own their data a bit more. With all these trends happening Roderick, where do you keep up with all of this stuff? Because you do seem like I said before to have a really smart way of jumping onto the latest trend, but what would you recommend someone to do if they wanted to learn more about esports and crypto?

Roderick:                                 For me personally on the esports side, The Esports Observer which is kind of a B2B site has been really helpful just getting me up to speed on the industry, the business trends. Also go to a lot of the sites that are running tournaments like ESL Gaming or MLG or FACEIT or a lot of these different companies will sometimes publish content, and then just being in the video game industry as long as I’ve been. I have a great group of investors who are senior level in the space, so I keep up to speed with those guys. Not that the audience would have access to them, but it’s just a lot of reading and putting up Google Alerts when stories come relevant. Perfect example. Steph Curry, Andre Iguodala invested in an esports team, so it’s literally about googling esports and looking at all of the latest news.

Roderick:                                 As it relates to blockchain, blockchain is this mystery to consumers. It’s interesting when you look at the blockchain space. It’s very similar to the Internet back in 1995 when it first joined. People are so enamored with the technology that I think they’re kind of forgetting about, what are the practical business applications? I really got up to speed by listening to podcasts so the Forbes Unchained podcast. She’s amazing. Laura Shin’s amazing. I listened to a couple of the interviews she did and I reached out to some of the people that she interviewed, like the team over at Smith and Crown and I reached out to them on LinkedIn. They got back to me and long story short they became partners and investors in us, but some of the guys were amazing in helping me get up to speed but it’s just a lot of reading.

Roderick:                                 Lou Kerner from CryptoOracle, he’s a great blogger on the space. He’s very passionate about it. One of my advisors, Alison McCauley, she recently started writing about blockchain, and what I like about her approach. It’s not so enamored with the tech, but how can we create these applications around it? What are the things that the blockchain industry needs to do to make it more practical to the average consumer?

Roderick:                                 So it’s a lot of blog reading. For me it was going to conferences. Then fortunately I’ve been really fortunate to be able to surrounding myself, because I’ve been in the business so long, with just really smart investors and advisors who have helped me get up to speed. It’s also about being an ultra entrepreneur. I know I’m not going to be the smartest guy in the room all the time. I don’t want to be, and it’s really just being humble and knowing that you don’t know everything, and when you don’t know, finding out and seeking people or sources, it can really educate you. So in a way it’s just having the mindset of wanting to learn and listen.

Lori Schwartz:                      Right, right. Are there other specific conferences that would definitely recommend people go to and don’t miss?

Roderick:                                 I think for the most part, I think a lot of it isn’t necessarily conferences. Blockchain has gotten so huge. I went to a recent conference and there were so many people and it didn’t feel really efficient. If you wanted to learn it it was expensive. I think listening to those podcasts like I mentioned and reading, I think that’s going to be a really great way to educate yourself.

Roderick:                                 Actually, Alison recently posted a blog. Her name’s Alison McCauley and you can find her Medium posts. She recently wrote an article about, I think it’s like 10 great sources to learn about blockchain, and I can email you the link later but it’s those sort of how-to’s that I think are really important for people who want to learn about it to read, because it’s written in a layman’s way as opposed to a technical way.

Lori Schwartz:                      Oh that’s great. Those are great resources, and that’s actually exactly the type of help that our listeners need to jump onto all of this craziness. And so to keep our eyes open for ReadyUp, will we just be logging into ReadyUp.com? How will we find it?

Roderick:                                 Exactly. ReadyUp.com. Right now if you go to the site you can sign up to get on the list for the beta. There are screenshots of how we’re concepting the product. We’re working with a group called Qualitance in Romania who are also investors in us. An amazing, amazing company. They’re making a ton of progress and we’re looking to launch this thing in September so it’s been incredibly exciting. We’re also talking to a lot of partners right now in terms of co-marketing partners, whether it be brands or whether it be people in traditional sports because there a huge crossover. So we’re incredibly, incredibly excited about this. I feel blessed. I have great investors, I have great advisors, and I have an amazing team of veterans who are all great people supporting it, so full steam ahead in September. It’s going to be fun.

Lori Schwartz:                      Is this going to be another company that you launch and then you move on to the next trend, or is this something that’s going to be taking up your life for awhile.

Roderick:                                 This will definitely be taking up my life for a while, because the other startups I’ve been a part of I wasn’t a part of the founding team, and this is actually something I’m super passionate about. This is not create it and then dump it. The interesting thing about the things that have been successful in my career. It was never about the money. It was always about following something that I was passionate about. New technologies has always been something I’ve been passionate about, and I feel like if you do something that you love you’ll do it well and the financial windfall will follow, and so we’re not looking at this … This is my life right now. I love doing what I’m doing, so why would I want to do something different? I just love what I’m doing. It’s fun.

Lori Schwartz:                      That’s a great story and also a good way to set us up for wrapping up right now. We’ve been talking to Roderick Alemania who is the CEO and co-founder of ReadyUp which is a new community platform for gamers that will allow you to meet, compete, and get better while also wrapping in the blockchain for transparency and transactions. What do you see down the road? Like in a year, where do you think ReadyUp will be?

Roderick:                                 I think ReadyUp will have a larger mass market footprint. We’re going after the hardcore gamers first. It’d make sense. This is the community that’s really driving it, but this thing is expanding so quickly. I actually see us expanding internationally a lot more quickly. Keep in mind, meet, compete, and get better isn’t a North America centric issue for gaming. It is a global issue. So if anything, within a year I’d love to see us be a lot more global outside of just English speaking countries.

Lori Schwartz:                      Pretty much anything that you launch now is global because it’s all online.

Roderick:                                 Correct.

Lori Schwartz:                      So you have to have a global aesthetic. As an American is there anything that you’re noticing that’s a little different about how you’re setting this up because it is going to be global?

Roderick:                                 It’s just nuances of different cultures. I’d say probably the biggest advantage we have at the company. There’s definitely be some competition in the space, but I think our biggest advantage will be that it’ll be deal driven at the beginning and a lot of the people that we’re doing deals with are people that we grew up in our careers with and it’s part of the know that I can trust kind of mantra of doing business, and so I think that’s going to be our competitive advantage but globally speaking though, I think it’s just different nuances of culture and just making sure that we address those nuances as we grow.

Lori Schwartz:                      Oh that’s fantastic. Alright, well we’re going to wrap the show up now but we have had the pleasure of talking to Roderick Alemania who is a serial entrepreneur who is now building up his own company called ReadyUp, which is a great community for gamers and the world of esports and it’s been so great talking to you and reconnecting and we wish you the best of luck, and I’m going to definitely checking out the community come September to see all the wonderful things that are happening there, and plus all the things that you’re going to be learning about consumer behavior. You’re like an advertiser’s dream

Roderick:                                 Yeah, we actually have some pretty interesting people as investors from the advertising space.

Lori Schwartz:                      Yeah. I mean, it’s a no-brainer.

Roderick:                                 A guy named Jim Elms who was at IPG and one of our investors, and this is definitely a marketer’s dream.

Lori Schwartz:                      Yeah. It’s pretty amazing. Well we’ve been talking to Roderick. Thank you so much Roderick, and everybody, we’ll be talking to you next week. Hopefully I won’t be sneezing throughout the entire show and I’ll get my health back, and it’s been great talking to everybody and more on the exciting world of esports with ReadyUp.

Roderick:                                 Thanks for having me.

Speaker 3:                               Thanks so much for listening to the Tech Cat Show. Please join Lori H. Schwartz again for another great program next Wednesday at 4:00 PM Eastern time, 1:00 PM Pacific time, on the VoiceAmerica Business channel and syndicated to the VoiceAmerica Women’s channel.