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255. Emil Vanjaka, Able Esports, Québec Esports Foundation, Hyper Local Esports, Gaming Side Hustle
Episode 25521st July 2022 • Business of Esports • Paul Dawalibi
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In this episode, with special guest Emil Vanjaka (Co-Founder of Able Esports, and Board Member at Québec Esports Foundation), we discuss how Able Esports was created while still managing a day job, supporting esports activities through the Québec Esports Foundation, the opportunity for esports in Canada, catering to a local esports market, building a local gaming ecosystem, and so much more!

Transcripts

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Welcome to the business of esports podcast, the official

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podcast of esports. We explore the intersection of business and

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esports, one of the fastest growing industries in the world

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and the future of fine. Please welcome your host Paul esports.

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Prophet Dawalibi, the business of esports podcast begins now.

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The keyboard to the boardroom. This is the business of esports

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podcast. I am Paul the profit that will lead me I'm joined

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today by my friend and co host, The Honorable Judge Jimmy

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burrata. For those of you who are new here, welcome to the

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official podcast of esports. What we do is we cover the most

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pressing, gaming and esports topics and news of the week. We

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look at all of it through a business and C suite lens, we

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dissect, we analyze the business implications of everything

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happening in this industry. For our regular listeners. Thank you

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guys for tuning in every week. Thank you for all the love the

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five star ratings and reviews. If you haven't yet, do a couple

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of things for me. Go leave a review on the podcast I promise

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I read every one I'm flattered and humbled by every single one

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means a lot to us if you leave a five star review on the podcast,

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and share it with a friend send the podcast to a colleague,

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maybe someone you work with a friend, someone who's interested

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in gaming and esports that's how the podcast has continued to

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grow. Jimmy How you doing this week?

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Wow, Paul, what a week what a week. It's been I gotta say, I

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you think things slow down in the summer, especially with the

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holiday, the Fourth of July not too long ago, but gaming, the

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business of gaming is alive. And well. That's all I'm gonna say

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in that regard. We've had so many projects going on. I don't

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know if you want to tease anything that we're doing.

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You know, maybe maybe on the fitness side of things that are

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starting at the end of this month, but I'll leave it to you

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if you if we should share that now or later. It's just there's

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so much going on that I want to talk about. I still don't always

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know what's what's clear yet, contractually?

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Yeah,

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there's a lot going on. First of all, I'm not I'm not homeless

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anymore. So if this episode sounds a little bit echoey it's

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because right now all I have is big empty rooms. So apologies

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for that. If you're listening to this, we'll do our best to make

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it sound good. And in you know, in editing, but

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also just lots going on. You're right. I mean, it's funny we I

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was quoted in this article, good friend of ours, that digit a

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great journalist, one of the maybe the best esports

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journalists in the world. Alex Lee Digiday came out with this

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great article about sort of the esports winter, you know, sort

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of echoing the crypto winter.

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You know, there's there are, you know, there is there are

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portions of the ecosystem may be that are tougher, but I think

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gaming in general is so much more recession proof than or

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recession resistant than crypto, right. Like, I hate that we get

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lumped in just sort of de facto with the crypto winter because I

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really do think there there are some key differences. And I

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highly encourage everyone I think Jimmy you put it on your

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socials and I know it's on all of ours. I highly recommend

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everyone go read that article because Alex put together a

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really, really great article.

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Obviously, when people asked my opinion, I think it's a great

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article, but

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it's also a great article, independent of my opinion.

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I think if you want to tease the fitness stuff, Jimmy I mean,

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look, because I think a lot of people don't know, we're we are

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by far it's not even close, right? By far the leader in

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gaming industry content and Metaverse, industry content in

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crypto industry content, right. I mean, like the business and

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industry side. But a lot of people don't know that. We also

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produce like a bunch of original IP, some of which hasn't seen

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the light of day yet. So it's maybe not surprised that people

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don't know that but if you want to tease tease it a little bit,

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a little bit a little like very brief bush. Yeah.

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Very briefly, for our regular listeners, you know, we had the

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Norwegian streamer and bodybuilder on about two or

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three weeks ago. Canet will be starting a brand new series

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later this month called Camp Canet where our first season

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he's going to Austin, Texas to work with OTK media midkiff s

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fan all the big time streamers that you know and love and will

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be whipping these guys into shape. And maybe that's all I'll

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share for now. But if you're a follower of OTK if you're a

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follower of Canet, check out their streams. I'm sure they

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will be teasing it and you will be seeing it in no time.

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Yeah, and we're very actively involved there. I'm super

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excited about that project new. I mean, for those who listened

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to that episode, he's just such a fun guy. Good friend of mine,

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like just I just think it's gonna be so much fun, such great

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content. A little

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Little bit of a departure from what we normally do. But like I

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said, I think there's, there's a lot of original IP in the works.

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And this is just a part of it. I will say, I'll tell you know, by

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the time anyone listens to this, I may already be in Saudi

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Arabia. So if you're listening to this, and you work in gaming

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and Saudi Arabia, I would encourage everyone to reach out

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to me or to Jimmy, on LinkedIn probably is the easiest way.

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Because I will be out there, I will probably go check out the

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gamers a festival there, among other things, so highly

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encourage anyone in that region. Obviously, I'm in Dubai now. But

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like anyone in Saudi Arabia, to reach out, I would love to meet

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with as many gaming people as possible while I'm there. So

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lots going on Jimmy lots too much, too much. Maybe. I mean,

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I'm not going to complain, but a lot going on.

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Someone who has a lot going on actually this good. Like that

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segue, someone who does have a lot going on. It's our guest

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this week. I love every guest that comes on this show. But

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they get better and better. I feel like you just meet every

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single week just gets better and better. And this week's no

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exception. We have none other than Emil Venya, aka on the

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show. I know. He's a fan of the podcast, but he's doing some

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very cool things in esports. And he's the co founder of ABL

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esports, in fact, and also on the board of directors of the

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Quebec esports. Federation. So doing a lot in the esports.

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space. And Neil, welcome to the business of esports podcast.

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Paul, Hi, Jimmy, one of those regular listeners, you always

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make a shout out to the beginning. But super glad to be

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here with you guys.

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Super excited to have you Emile I would love for people who

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don't know you or maybe haven't heard of Abel esports would love

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a little bit of your background. How you got into gaming, why you

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got into gaming? Like what was the the impetus to because

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you're, you're sort of in Jimmy's group, right. Next

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lawyer, reformed lawyer.

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Yeah, let's say recovering current.

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choice today.

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But yeah, for sure background, I mean, you know, my background

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has kind of two parallel streams. So there's the esports

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stream. And then there's kind of the lawyer stream, like you

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mentioned for Jimmy so esports wise, always been into gaming,

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as many of your guests are, and you guys as well. So, you know,

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parents got a computer when I was at a very young age, and my

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brother and I just played all the games, our older cousin

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would get us for each Christmas. Eventually HalfLife came along,

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Counter Strike came out, the very first day it came out, I

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was at an internet cafe when they still existed, as people

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didn't have high speed internet. And I was just hooked on Counter

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Strike, and playing Counter Strike for what 24 years now.

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So played competitively built a little team locally, went to LAN

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events, virtual, cyber athletic amateur leagues, I've radically

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professional league. So that was a lot of fun. And then, with all

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projects that I do, I always kind of want to get more

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involved in the space. So built out a few little businesses at

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the time, I organized my own tournaments, my own leagues, got

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sponsors, built, built out platforms, websites, ecommerce

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stuff, and esports eventually dropped out of everything that

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was esports for a little bit because of law school and being

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a lawyer, which I'm sure Jimmy knows, takes up pretty much all

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of your life. But against some great, great experience. There

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were a couple of very large firms up here in Montreal,

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Canada. And North rose fast Gan did some large mergers and

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acquisitions, but then focused on what I've always been

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passionate about, which was tech and startups. So I helped a few

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100 startups kind of go from incorporation to finance,

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raising all the way to IPOs help them with their revenue streams

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and their business models.

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And then moved into a startup. So my nine to five today is at a

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biotech company in Montreal, we do cancer research products, so

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for patients with leukemias and blood cancers. And as I went

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back into startups, and as COVID hit a little bit more free time

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on my hands. So jump back into esports. I was always listening,

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you know, I was always plugged into Twitch but I wasn't in the

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space, so to speak.

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So really nice opportunity in Canada, even more so in Quebec.

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Of a space with a growing community, but nothing really

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happening. Well, I mean, Canada's has a few projects, but

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Quebec, not so many so saw a nice opportunity to jump in. A

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lot of this stuff happening in the US with schools at all

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levels getting involved. Now it's coming up to Canada, we're

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always kind of trailblazing the US. So helping out a lot of

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programs as far as academics go want to get to that level but

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don't understand the space at all.

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And then more and more companies, businesses wanting to

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get that underlying, you know, target market that's so

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difficult to reach that want to work with esports companies, but

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there aren't any around or

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and not as approachable up here, when you work through the

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American orgs. And then just as far as player base goes, giving

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opportunities to players that exist here that didn't

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necessarily break out. And Quebec was an interesting

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market, as I'm sure you know, Paul,

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just because it gives us a bit of differentiation. If we do

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focus on the French, less of a reach, but a differentiating

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factor at a bill esports. We've been around for

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three years, maybe now and we've been able to partner with some

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really cool companies, Guru energy, public energy drink

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company, organic energy, Bud Light from Labatt MSI Canada,

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we've organized tournaments that are broadcast through our media

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partners on television in over 20 countries, English, French.

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So we've been able to do a lot by differentiating by offering

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an underlying market that isn't necessarily directly reached

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through existing esports companies. But we took a

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traditional esports. Org approach at first teams content

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creators playing under our our banner, and then diversified

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into organizing our own tournaments, we organized a

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monthly valorant tournament, organizing our own podcasts, you

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guys were an inspiration for that we launched the French

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podcast that covers local esports events, the beginning of

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the year. So it's been about half a year now that we've been

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doing that. And more and more partners are interested in kind

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of that stuff, as long as you pitch it the right way. So we've

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had some success there. And we're hoping to kind of get to

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the next level having some really interesting discussions

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with some existing media and entertainment companies with

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some existing traditional sports teams want to break out into it?

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Again, we've seen it in the US, it's coming here now. Or in the

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last few years. So good timing. There's some stuff that's not so

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great timing going on right now, like, economically speaking. But

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otherwise, no, it's been it's been a great, a great, a great

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few years. And we have a lot of projects planned for the

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upcoming few years as well. And then I got even more involved in

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the space when I joined the Quebec esports Federation just

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recently as one of the members of the board. And that is more

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of a kind of high level approach to talking to governments trying

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to lobby for, you know, esports to be more recognized, within

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the province and within the country of Canada to get more

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bursaries, I think you guys covered how the province of

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Ontario had some esports specific grants recently that

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we're trying to push for more and more of that, to recognize

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it unnecessarily as a sport, but it is one of the one of the push

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one of the directions we're pushing in, but just to

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recognize it as more of a

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something positive that that young generations want to work

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in and can work in at, at a lot of levels, not just playing

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video games 24 hours a day, but being lawyers in the space being

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accountants in this space.

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Very, very cool projects, and we're moving in the right

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direction, we always want to move faster than we are. But I

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think that's what, that's what helps us move forward to

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Emil, you've accomplished what I think probably a very large

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percentage of our listeners would love to accomplish which

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and I'll, I'll start with sort of a very big generic question,

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which is, you built an esports business while still having a

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day job? Right. And I think for a lot of people, that's sort of

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the dream, right? Like, the idea that I can still pay the bills,

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but still do this thing I love and that that thing that I love

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turns into something interesting.

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Any advice? Like I always think it's interesting to tease

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advice, insight from people who've done something.

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And a lot of our listeners, I'm sure would love to do something

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similar what, you know, what were some of the keys for you,

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things you learned, insights, takeaways, anything that you can

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share? Yeah, a few things. One is obviously, efficiency and

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time management, which I learned as a lawyer as well was very,

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very important.

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And through my studies, I did a lot of things while I was

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studying my MBA, my Masters of Law did like those

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simultaneously. So time management efficiency, do you

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know things well enough to get the impact, nothing has to

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necessarily be perfect, at least not the first time you do it. A

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lot of people get stuck in that, well, I want to launch this but

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it has to be perfect. And then they never launch it. Our first

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of all tournament was it was good, but it wasn't what it is,

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you know, a year and a half after.

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The other thing is surround you're either you have to be

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very good at a lot of things or you have to surround yourself

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with the right people that kind of have the same vision and

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that's often difficult. But again, start on your own if you

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can, and it doesn't have to be perfectly won. You don't have to

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be 10th out Abel esports is not a huge esports. Org like we're

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not living off of it but

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But it's okay, we're enjoying it. And that's what we have to

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remember, as most of us are in esports, because of the passion

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because it's fun, the date stops being fun, even if you aren't

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making a lot of money, honestly,

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I don't know, it's not something I would want to be in.

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And then

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I go back to, like, our approach has been this community

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grassroots organic driven growth, some people want to grow

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very quickly, don't know how they're going to do that. We're

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okay with growing less fast, we don't

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a traditional esports approach of just burning cash to grow

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without, you know, how is this gonna work? In the end, a lot of

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people jump into esports orgs. And they spend 1000s of dollars

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that they're making with their full time job. And then

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eventually, they're like, well, this isn't fun. Plus, I'm losing

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money, and nobody wants to sponsor me. So

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we've always just used the money that we can go get, and how we

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went to get that money is differentiation. Again, I know

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you guys have talked on the podcast, like, why would you

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geographically differentiate yourself as an esports. org? And

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I completely agree with both sides of that argument. I'm not

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saying that's how you have to differentiate, I'm saying you

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have to find a way to differentiate because a sponsor,

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especially endemic sponsors, are going to say, Well, why would I

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give you money? And you have to have an answer to that. It can't

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just be I have I have 1000 followers? Well, yes. So what?

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So differentiate yourself and then

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prove to them that it's something that they want, we

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started with all our partners with a very

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low to no risk commitment, we came up to blue energy was one

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of our first partners, we came up to them, we said, Listen,

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let's do a short term, partnership, one quarter, four

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months, three months, whatever it is, give us very, very

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little. And I'll report to you at the end of that, and a lot, a

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lot of what people don't do is report back, they asked for

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money, they do the thing. And then they asked for more money.

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And this tells you Well, I mean, what did I get out of the last

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one I gave you so report and give them a report that blows

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them out of the water guru energy has been with us for

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maybe three years now. And they've resigned for multiples

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of their premiums, same thing with all our sponsors, because

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we not under promise, but we always over deliver.

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And then I've been through enough jobs, my life where I

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understand how those companies work, that marketing manager at

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BU at Red Bull at MSI at whoever they report to a marketing

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director who reports with VP of marketing or whatever it is,

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whichever, you know, could be VP of sponsorship, whatever it is,

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give him a report, where he just takes this report, you turn

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around gives it to his superior and he looks like an all star.

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The severe is like oh my god, this is amazing. Wow, look at

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these pictures and these graphs. And we only give them that and

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we got this like no, of course, let's do it again. So it's not

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that easy. Obviously, I've had a lot of doors shut in my face.

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And we're not like I said an extremely profitable business.

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Like we're not getting Bud Lights, sponsorship dollars in

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Montreal, Quebec for a bill esports a CLG is getting out,

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right. But a lot of these companies do have segregated

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localized marketing budgets, if you want to run an event in your

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local community, Red Bull has a Montreal marketing budget

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running event in Montreal, they will probably want to get on

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board. So

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make things look you know, fake it till you make it kind of

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thing, make things look really professional, and good enough,

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not perfect. And give them a low risk way to kind of partner with

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you and then prove to them that it's worth it. So that's kind of

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how we did it. And obviously just keeping it fun.

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Emil I love that, like own I mean, such great, it's so many

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good, so many good insights there and good advice for our

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listeners. But like, I love in some ways, I'll call this almost

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the hyperlocal approach, right? Where Quebec Montreal is really

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a unique market, right? Because of the language barrier because

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that that and there are also sort of artificial language

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barriers also right that our government mandated and things

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like that. So it's a really distinct as you know, many

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French Canadians would would like to say, very distinct

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ecosystem.

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And, and I love that you guys have own Matt, how far do you

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take that as an organization? In other words, like players that

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you sign content creators, that is the idea to always source

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local talent?

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Like is that part of the ethos so far? I mean, we have non

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Quebec we have a few guys from Ontario, we've had teams from

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the US. So obviously, the higher you get in competitive play, the

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more difficult it is to say, within a smaller pool of players

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just because you know statistics

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But we try to stay local for many reasons. One is obviously

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differentiation. But the other is that we do believe in kind of

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giving a platform to those players to hopefully break into,

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you know, higher levels. And

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our approach isn't there are different different approaches

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to, to esports. And I loved what G two had posted, or the CEO of

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GE two had posted a few weeks ago that, you know, winning

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isn't the first thing it's the second thing that comes after

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storytelling. So whatever story you want to tell is up to you

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we've chosen, you know, this local players growing up and,

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and blowing up in local events and, and getting to those those

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bigger and better teams. But that story can be anything. And

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same with the differentiation. This is the way we went well,

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you can differentiate on multiple facets, you can go

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into, you know, coaching academics, which we're starting

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to break into.

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So we've we've taken it fairly far. I'm not I don't think it's

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a hard line for us. But we'll do it as long as it's

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as long as we grow to a certain level and then it'll kind of

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break out. We're looking at a lot of interesting local

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discussions or potential partners or whatever you might

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have it. Local, traditional sports teams are looking into

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breaking into it. On trial Canadians, for instance, who

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invested some money out in Ontario and overactive media

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that goes last year, because there is nothing here to invest

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in.

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I think the Vancouver Canucks we're looking for a VP of

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esports are still are because they're in their Overwatch

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League. And

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there are some really cool synergies I don't love to make

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the parallel with

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traditional sports that much. But there's some really cool

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synergies with those businesses. A standalone esports. org is a

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business model today, I don't really believe in to be honest

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with you, or at least not the way it's been driven by most

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esports. Org. So those synergies are interesting. And media

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companies too. I mean, if if you know them, you know fairly

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locally Quebec golf, which is a huge company they own you know,

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video Tron and internet service provider. They own a minor

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league hockey team, they have their own stadiums, their own

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theater, you know, stages. I mean, those synergies are

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ridiculous with esports, right? You want media and entertainment

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for the upcoming Gen z's. Like that's where you need to be,

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according to me. So

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there's still that educational piece, because a lot of these

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businesses are being run by

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No, no insult intended, but you know, gray haired, and I'm

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getting gray hairs now too, but like

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an older generation that kind of still have this view of esports.

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That's like, What do you mean, I want to get into gaming, and

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then you just start showing them why. And that story starts

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making a lot of sense. But anyway, went off on a tangent.

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But yeah, so far, we're focused fairly locally. It's been

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working for us in many levels, but it also holds us back. As

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far as competitiveness of teams. And as far as sponsorship

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budgets do, it's kind of a double edged sword, we've been

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able to get sponsorships as a fairly small esports, or at

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least at first, because of that differentiation. But then, if we

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keep only selling a small market, or underlying market,

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those budgets have kept, right. Yeah, so So I want to jump in

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here because Emile, I think it's just such an amazing story that

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we're getting into, you know, having a nine to five but

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starting a passion or pursuing a passion. You know, so many of

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our listeners are working professionals in the gaming

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industry, but so many also are in adjacent industries that are

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looking for this type of inspiration, this type of

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roadmap and want to follow, I think, the success you've had.

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And obviously, we've talked a bit now about this hyperlocal

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approach. And you had mentioned, you know, maybe not burning all

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of all of someone, you know, all of your cash from your nine to

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five into the passion. I'm curious, you know, for you guys,

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you mentioned tournaments and things of that nature, what were

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you and you'd also given great advice about you know, just

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starting picking something, making those mistakes, but then

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improving from there. for someone that's looking to follow

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their passion, whether it's an education, esports education,

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whether it's an organizing tournaments, creating something

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competitive with a roster of players, you know, for you guys,

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where did you exactly start? You know, what were those first

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early days? What were the first two or three projects the ones

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that you had the rough learning curves? You know, thanks just

Unknown:

start is great advice but I'm now I want to more of the meal

Unknown:

story on where you guys started. Yeah. Yeah, your early days. So

Unknown:

I co founded Abel esports. And kind of a story behind Abel is

Unknown:

my my co founder him and they bought, actually, he started

Unknown:

able esports and he started able, in the way that most clans

Unknown:

or teams start there's there's a local LAN event, I think it was

Unknown:

an Ottawa, the first one and

Unknown:

You got a group of players that were decent local players, and

Unknown:

they printed out jerseys. And they went, and they did that a

Unknown:

couple of times, because it was fun. And that's where a lot of

Unknown:

esports project starts. Because it's fun, because we have a

Unknown:

passion for it. So they did that a few times. And then

Unknown:

eventually, they started getting some results, they started

Unknown:

getting some interest from, you know, at the time, I think it

Unknown:

was Dell that had had approached them, one of the first who was

Unknown:

at those events. And then simultaneously, I was trying, I

Unknown:

was getting back into the scene. So we had met up through some

Unknown:

some local events that make a mix here and in Quebec, and

Unknown:

through some, some people that we knew, and

Unknown:

I was coming in with a with a business mindset, which I have.

Unknown:

And, you know, I think there is an opportunity for it, although,

Unknown:

again, don't get into esports. If you want to make money, it's

Unknown:

not where you want there, you can make way better money

Unknown:

elsewhere today. But

Unknown:

I came in at the same time. And then we just struck, decided to

Unknown:

structure it together. And it started as a passion project.

Unknown:

And it's fun, and it still is like I do a bliss. But I put my

Unknown:

time into April. I mean, you know,

Unknown:

my revenue my nine to five compared to I don't pull any

Unknown:

revenue for Mabel personally, is not comparable, I do it because

Unknown:

I enjoy it. And you know, I have two kids and I have a dog and a

Unknown:

house. Like you have to find the time for the things that you

Unknown:

like, but that's something that I'm very passionate about. And

Unknown:

the more I do it, the less I play video games, ironically,

Unknown:

but you know, as most

Unknown:

but yeah, it started as a little project. And it kind of goes

Unknown:

back to what I was saying, I don't think

Unknown:

you should start an esports. org, or a clan or, or team, I

Unknown:

don't think you should start with the vision of I want to be

Unknown:

the best. I want to be the biggest day one startup because

Unknown:

it's interesting and grow it you know, with time if you want to

Unknown:

throw a bunch of money at it, because you have a bunch of

Unknown:

money, like absolutely go for it. But then we've seen the

Unknown:

sustainability of that kind of across the industry.

Unknown:

If I wanted to get into esports more for the growth of the

Unknown:

money, I'd probably be in a tech play. I mean, those are the

Unknown:

those are the plays that are easier to grow and easier to

Unknown:

expand without that rapid growth that most investors are looking

Unknown:

for. And if you want to investment in an esports. org

Unknown:

today, I mean, good luck. People are doing it, but phase got

Unknown:

there, SPAC let this week, and I think exit is a Yeah, today are

Unknown:

Yeah, and they're already down like 30%. But anyway,

Unknown:

another story, you can find money to do that. But what I, I

Unknown:

haven't been in these these companies necessarily, but from

Unknown:

the from an external point of view, it's they seem to have

Unknown:

their business model is just, I'm gonna just keep raising

Unknown:

indefinitely. And there's none of that kind of, well, where do

Unknown:

we become profitable? Where's my return on investment. And

Unknown:

if you want, there's different ways of getting into it, if you

Unknown:

want to get into it because of passion. And because it's fun,

Unknown:

then make sure it stays fun, or at least for a long time.

Unknown:

And if you want to get into it for the money, you will get some

Unknown:

really good coders and a really good idea and build something

Unknown:

tech, because I think that's where the money is in esports in

Unknown:

the long run.

Unknown:

But gaming is a much better industry than esports or money.

Unknown:

I mean, I'm curious. Well, you mentioned it, and I was gonna

Unknown:

ask about it. What do you think of the phase? IPO phase going

Unknown:

public, right. Like, and yeah, the stock got killed today, but

Unknown:

most people know we record on Wednesday. So today is the day

Unknown:

phase actually got publicly listed officially?

Unknown:

What what do you think of phases chances? I guess, let's put it I

Unknown:

don't know how else to say it better than that maybe? And also

Unknown:

like, do you aspire for able to follow you know that path? Or

Unknown:

how do you see sort of the next five years for April? Right?

Unknown:

Like is it?

Unknown:

Good questions? So no, I don't aspire to be to follow many of

Unknown:

the, you know, you look at the Forbes list, and many of the

Unknown:

quote unquote, successful esports orgs approaches to how

Unknown:

they've grown things. One because the timing is off, like

Unknown:

what they have done is very difficult to do today. Because

Unknown:

the hype and the money isn't there to just burn and I think

Unknown:

that's a great thing.

Unknown:

But I've never been a firm believer in I've been a firm

Unknown:

believer in acceleration money if you have a plan and have kind

Unknown:

of an inflection point, but I've never been a firm believer in

Unknown:

just throw money at me. I'm going to spend five bucks to

Unknown:

make one like yeah, it's very impressive that I love all of

Unknown:

these companies don't get me wrong, like I'm not. I'm not

Unknown:

here with Abel esports trying to match phase or anything but like

Unknown:

overactive media is oh yeah, we've doubled our profit our

Unknown:

revenue from last year but we've tripled our expenses. You know,

Unknown:

it's a counterintuitive business model. What do I think of their

Unknown:

SPAC? I mean

Unknown:

it's not

Unknown:

Legally speaking, it's not something I've seen very often.

Unknown:

To me, it's a bit of a,

Unknown:

quote unquote shortcut to that.

Unknown:

Or it is to going public and

Unknown:

definition of actually, exactly. And I was very surprised that

Unknown:

they waived the kind of that I think it was the cash on hand

Unknown:

that they waive, which actually made it possible, because they

Unknown:

weren't hitting the milestones that they promised. So that's

Unknown:

more than just the flagrant red flag to me, but fine, we're

Unknown:

pushing it through. I'm not surprised that that 30% Drop

Unknown:

today. But what I'm afraid of is how it's going to impact the

Unknown:

market. And the the esports market is already tough to go

Unknown:

get investment. It's already tough to get decent, intelligent

Unknown:

valuations. But maybe it's a correction that we need, right?

Unknown:

Maybe people have been flaunting these impressions and these huge

Unknown:

numbers, that at the end of the day, if you really sit down and

Unknown:

look at them, like are they worth as much as we're saying,

Unknown:

they're worth, you know, we're, in my mind, we're early on in

Unknown:

this industry, we're very early, even though it's been here for a

Unknown:

while we're early, it's chaotic, nobody's kind of figured it out

Unknown:

yet. And that maybe has to has to be reflected in this downturn

Unknown:

that's upon us, or right around the corner there, once he's

Unknown:

coming, might come and correct even more of that you're gonna

Unknown:

see a lot of these esports Lords have trouble raising, because

Unknown:

it's their model to raise if you have a runway of 18 months or 12

Unknown:

months. And you can't raise at the end of that.

Unknown:

Well, I don't know if it's over, but you're in trouble. So all of

Unknown:

these things combined might be the right correction. And it

Unknown:

might kind of wake people up. Guys had Arnold, I think, from

Unknown:

Genji, and one of your latest episodes, and I love that

Unknown:

episode, probably one of my favorites, one that's not so

Unknown:

smart. Oh, my God, everything that he was saying. I was just

Unknown:

kind of nodding my head and like, oh, yeah, exactly. So

Unknown:

you know, what do I think of it? I think, I think it's cool, in

Unknown:

one sense that I can say, hey, a billion dollar valuation for

Unknown:

phase and my pitch decks, but then anyone who understands

Unknown:

that, it's gonna be like, Yeah, but wait a minute.

Unknown:

Oh, sure about that number. So I think we need more, more of

Unknown:

that, like more people checking themselves in their pitch decks,

Unknown:

more people checking themselves in their business models, their

Unknown:

valuations, and it's starting esports was built from passion.

Unknown:

And now we need a little more people with external,

Unknown:

you know, experience and knowledge, more lawyers more,

Unknown:

and I'm not a fan of lawyers, but more lawyers, more

Unknown:

accountants more people from finance backgrounds coming into

Unknown:

the space and kind of checking, checking like, this doesn't

Unknown:

really make that much sense. And now let's calibrate let's get to

Unknown:

a place where it starts making sense. Maybe the face back is

Unknown:

one of those things. But look, at the end of the day, can you

Unknown:

even call phase? That phase is not my opinion, and esports.

Unknown:

Org, right. And they don't know.

Unknown:

Me media business, right, less than a third of their revenue

Unknown:

comes from esports. Right? So yeah, but and I think Arnold

Unknown:

said the same thing, I think to be successful in esports, you do

Unknown:

have to have a successful model outside of esports. As well, if

Unknown:

you want to be kind of very strict on what esports are.

Unknown:

Now, it's super, super interesting time to be an

Unknown:

esports. I kind of jumped in because I love the fact that

Unknown:

nobody has figured it out yet. That's a super interesting

Unknown:

business problem or challenge to navigate. So if you kind of have

Unknown:

the right approach, and aren't afraid to take a few risks, or

Unknown:

aren't afraid to take a slower approach,

Unknown:

like by all means, get into. So this is definitely leaning into

Unknown:

an interesting area of what you do. Emile and I'm curious, you

Unknown:

know, Quebec, esports. Federation, in the

Unknown:

conversations, you're having your recent perspective that you

Unknown:

shared on, you know, figuring out esports what it needs to

Unknown:

become profitable, what businesses need to be doing. So

Unknown:

obviously, we've talked about your personal background, you're

Unknown:

following your passion and creating what essentially was a

Unknown:

side hustle that, you know, blossomed into a successful and

Unknown:

fun pursuit for you. But now with your recent posting on the

Unknown:

board of directors, you know, for for this esports Federation,

Unknown:

what are the conversations? What are the problems? What are the

Unknown:

insights that they're asking of you to solve for Quebec and your

Unknown:

community? Yeah, so first and foremost, one of the big

Unknown:

challenges right when I came in was was coming to the end is a

Unknown:

bit like Paul mentioned, the back is kind of always its own

Unknown:

thing. And for esports. A lot of it was coming from some of the

Unknown:

regulations we have here around gambling. So esports players

Unknown:

from Quebec were actually traditionally couldn't compete

Unknown:

in international tournaments because it was considered

Unknown:

gambling. So that was one of the big.

Unknown:

The big projects that the Quebec esports Federation had was to

Unknown:

start at least letting our players play in bigger

Unknown:

tournaments. There are a couple

Unknown:

Little bit are still holding out a couple of big ones. I think

Unknown:

Blizzard was one of them. But I know that regulation has

Unknown:

changed. So they've done a great job with that. Our main focus is

Unknown:

today with respect to the government is just find a way to

Unknown:

get grants for esports projects, were taking one approach, which

Unknown:

is recognize this as a sport, or at least recognize this in a way

Unknown:

that we fall into this sport and hobby bucket that the government

Unknown:

has projects so that we can make blossom certain projects, like a

Unknown:

bowl, or like other project community projects that need

Unknown:

that kind of funding to get off the ground. And we're working

Unknown:

with a lot of schools, a lot of universities, colleges, high

Unknown:

schools are getting into esports. The US it's, you know,

Unknown:

fairly advanced. And here, it's it's starting up fairly well as

Unknown:

well, colleges here we have what we call CJ IPs. We have a

Unknown:

league. So we organize a league, or kind of brella company of the

Unknown:

league underneath. So we have a high school League, the college

Unknown:

league, and we're starting university League, the CGS here

Unknown:

we have 35 of them with over 500 players. And it's a standalone,

Unknown:

profitable business because there's a model underneath that.

Unknown:

And it's we're a nonprofit company. So you know, all that

Unknown:

money gets reinvested. But, and you guys have talked about some

Unknown:

third party, you know, for profit businesses that do that

Unknown:

in the States. But that's a model that can work if you do

Unknown:

less success, right? Yeah, if you do it, right, it's a model

Unknown:

that can work. And again, unfortunately, some of these

Unknown:

people are in it for the cash or don't have the experience to do

Unknown:

it properly. But schools want to get involved. And I think a lot

Unknown:

of it comes from schools, a lot of what esports can be, can go

Unknown:

through schools, if we create logical path to pros,

Unknown:

sustainable models, show students that they can work in a

Unknown:

space that they love, again, at all levels, not just as a

Unknown:

player, you start building a generation of people that are

Unknown:

passionate about esports, and then have the mindset to build

Unknown:

it into something sustainable. So one of the Federation works a

Unknown:

lot with the academics. And then on the other side is just the

Unknown:

governments that we want more of them to do with Ontario was

Unknown:

doing come in with grants and support people that want to work

Unknown:

in this space, and show them the different ways that they can do

Unknown:

it. Don't let them sit at home and product, people grind their

Unknown:

game all night long without, you know, any real realization of

Unknown:

all the possibilities that this space has to offer.

Unknown:

I think governments massively underestimate just how much job

Unknown:

creation also can come from a thriving ecosystem like this, as

Unknown:

Quebec has gained development, so it like, it makes so much

Unknown:

sense there. I want to get into the weeds, email before we get

Unknown:

to everyone's favorite new segment here. But

Unknown:

you guys have signed a beer sponsor. Right. And I think this

Unknown:

is a bit of more of the exception than the rule in the

Unknown:

gaming world, especially in the sports world. Because I think

Unknown:

the prevalent sort of stereotype is gamers are 12 year old kids

Unknown:

who can't drink beer anyway. So why should you know beer

Unknown:

sponsors? Be thinking about it.

Unknown:

And and I've seen a few successes, including you guys

Unknown:

where you know, you've managed to overcome that hurdle. Can you

Unknown:

talk a little bit about how that process was? And you know, how

Unknown:

you convinced in this case, Labatt to?

Unknown:

You know, that gaming and esports? Was not just for little

Unknown:

kids? Or did they even require that education, I'm curious. Um,

Unknown:

they didn't require it as much as some other non endemic brands

Unknown:

was required, because at large kind of Labatt Bud Light are

Unknown:

already in esports. But obviously,

Unknown:

the brand managers that I was, or the marketing managers that I

Unknown:

was talking to locally, did need some education into it. It

Unknown:

wasn't excessively difficult in the sense that we took our

Unknown:

traditional approach of, you know, no risk, let's try it out.

Unknown:

Here's how, here's what we think we can offer to you. And you do

Unknown:

have a good point. And then what's interesting to me about

Unknown:

esports is

Unknown:

those age ranges, and those underlying interests vary by

Unknown:

game, right, so we don't put much Bud Light or any forward in

Unknown:

our fortnight teams. But in our Counter Strike Teams, where the

Unknown:

average age is barely higher, if not, almost 30 years, or high

Unknown:

20s. It's very popular, and also with our local in person events,

Unknown:

we try to put them forward. So organizing a local valorant

Unknown:

League, which will have kind of a in person, playoff or finals.

Unknown:

That's very interesting. And something that they are used to,

Unknown:

right they're used to in person. beer sales, like that's what

Unknown:

they're used to. Unfortunately here we don't

Unknown:

Have some of the really cool possibilities for activations

Unknown:

that I've seen in the States. I don't know if you guys are aware

Unknown:

of drizzly. But drizzly is kind of a, or was at least last year,

Unknown:

I imagine they're still around is kind of an Uber Eats or

Unknown:

alcohol. So you can order your alcohol on it's delivered to

Unknown:

your door and I went to an ESI digital, which during COVID was

Unknown:

virtual. So there was a virtual happy hour right and an hour, 45

Unknown:

minutes before that happy hour, you get a notification from Bud

Unknown:

Light that says, hey, order your Bud Light now from drizzly and

Unknown:

you'll get it in time for the happy hour. And that's an

Unknown:

amazing activation to me. One trackable how much how many

Unknown:

conversions are getting and two, it's so integrated into we have

Unknown:

a monthly valorant tournament, if I can tell people and same

Unknown:

thing goes for McDonald's or anything like that, hey, you

Unknown:

have a discount. And if you order now, it'll get there on

Unknown:

time. And then you can go even further into those activations.

Unknown:

So

Unknown:

there are really cool activations that you can do and

Unknown:

esports through tech plays with traditional companies that are

Unknown:

more used to that brick and mortar approach.

Unknown:

Unfortunately, there is some education there and there is

Unknown:

some, hey, look how creative we can get you want to jump into

Unknown:

this with us. So what we ask every partner is, how is this

Unknown:

going to be successful for you, we never put out

Unknown:

pre made tear lists of sponsors silver gold that we say we want

Unknown:

to understand what you want to get out. So Bud Light was, you

Unknown:

know, beer sales, which is normal, that's full funnel

Unknown:

conversion. But Guru it wasn't guru energy was, we want as many

Unknown:

people as possible to taste their product, because that's

Unknown:

where we convert, because when they're gonna taste this organic

Unknown:

energy drink, and they're gonna compare it to all the other ones

Unknown:

they've tasted, we're confident that they're going to buy this

Unknown:

again. So depending on your partner, your activations are

Unknown:

going to be different, your approach is going to be

Unknown:

different and what you should be offering, obviously, there's

Unknown:

overlap, but should also be catered to what they want.

Unknown:

So beer was an interesting challenge, we had an irace, we

Unknown:

haven't iRacing team, best in Canada, and iRacing, you can't

Unknown:

put alcohol, of course,

Unknown:

we can put the non alcohol version of Budweiser on the

Unknown:

cars. So you know, again, some interesting, interesting kind of

Unknown:

ways to cater to both who you're selling to and who you're

Unknown:

selling for. But just things to keep in mind when you're

Unknown:

obviously doing these things. And that's what makes it fun.

Unknown:

It's if all activations are just stick your logo on a jersey, and

Unknown:

obviously we have their logo on the jersey. But if that's all

Unknown:

you're doing, personally, I don't find it fun. And secondly,

Unknown:

like how long are these companies really going to stay

Unknown:

in the space? Yeah, I'm sure those loophole holes are where

Unknown:

the law degree comes in handy.

Unknown:

And that brings us to everyone's favorite new segment that's

Unknown:

judged Jimmy's cross examination. What what's going

Unknown:

to happen is Jimmy is going to ask you a few very rapid fire

Unknown:

questions. The idea is to get to know you a little bit better as

Unknown:

a person as a gamer as a business person. Judge Jimmy

Unknown:

take it away. All right, Emile. I know you're a regular

Unknown:

listener, so you're probably prepared for this one. First

Unknown:

question, What game are you currently playing? CS has always

Unknown:

been my game of choice. Fortunately, or unfortunately,

Unknown:

I've kind of switched the valorant Recently it's shorter

Unknown:

and more casual for me was more of my friends are willing to

Unknown:

play with me but

Unknown:

so I play a bit of APEX legends because some of my friends just

Unknown:

aren't at the rank for those games, but CSGO

Unknown:

drag

Unknown:

anchors for friends what can I say?

Unknown:

Let's see.

Unknown:

What is your go to gamer snack?

Unknown:

I'm not big on snacking around the computer. I honestly don't

Unknown:

understand how people do it. I know you guys have talked about

Unknown:

this finger chopsticks and I haven't tried they weren't

Unknown:

raised by them. That's a great idea. By the way.

Unknown:

I'm not big on energy drinks either but and I have my guru

Unknown:

right here and it's not even like kind of a plug but a guru

Unknown:

and organic energy drink is pretty much the only thing other

Unknown:

than water and sometimes coffee that I go to and it's it's

Unknown:

surprisingly good. I mean, I'm not an energy drink consumer and

Unknown:

I actually drink this stuff fairly regularly. So try it out.

Unknown:

When I when I was when I was running a software company in

Unknown:

Montreal. My programmers lived on guru literally lived on Quora

Unknown:

and now they're they've expanded through partnership with Pepsi

Unknown:

all over the US so they're everywhere else really cool.

Unknown:

Me gotta stay hydrated, amazing. So slightly different from what

Unknown:

you're playing. What's your favorite game or streamer to

Unknown:

watch?

Unknown:

I'm

Unknown:

gonna rephrase. Let me rephrase it. Why is x QC your favorite

Unknown:

streamer?

Unknown:

A lot on our podcast. He's not my type of streamer. I

Unknown:

don't have a go to streamer. I watch a lot of obviously, our

Unknown:

streamers, but I don't have a go to favorite game to watch. I

Unknown:

really enjoy Rocket League, even though I'm terrible at it. But I

Unknown:

enjoy how accessible it is, as well. And easiest to understand

Unknown:

my issue with some games is how non how difficult it is for an

Unknown:

outsider to come in and enjoy League of Legends is huge, but

Unknown:

like if you don't know gaming, even if you do know gaming, you

Unknown:

can't come in and watch that Counter Strike a little more

Unknown:

understandable. But Rocket League I mean, within two

Unknown:

minutes, find you get the whole upside down or whatever that's

Unknown:

difficult to follow sometimes, but you sit down and you

Unknown:

understand it and you can enjoy it. So I'm a pretty big fan of

Unknown:

the potential that that came as. It's definitely fun to watch. I

Unknown:

agree with you here.

Unknown:

Today, I cannot play it. I'm horrible.

Unknown:

Last question Emile, your favorite esports are video game

Unknown:

collaboration. This can be a fortnight skin, this could be a

Unknown:

weapons pack. And again, favorite collabo let you

Unknown:

interpret it to your satisfaction.

Unknown:

I might cheat a little on this one, but in the sense that it's

Unknown:

maybe not specifically what you're asking. But again, Rocket

Unknown:

League what they did recently with end goal animation specific

Unknown:

to orcs, I think is such a cool way for them. And it goes back I

Unknown:

think to what you were talking about with Arnold with that

Unknown:

vertical integration of where to get revenue for organizations,

Unknown:

but my God, how are we not already doing this valorant has

Unknown:

for each skin they already have a finisher, imagine you can have

Unknown:

a phase finisher. I mean that to me is such a such a cool way of

Unknown:

doing things. And hopefully more and more games jump into that to

Unknown:

make kind of the whole funnel sustainable. But I really loved

Unknown:

seeing that across my feed even though it's not necessarily the

Unknown:

answer. You know, I love that that's a fantastic answer. And

Unknown:

honestly, great, great. Show me all we really appreciate having

Unknown:

you. That's That's it for the cross exam. So I'll put you back

Unknown:

in Paul's hands. But thank you. Thank you. Emile. Where can

Unknown:

people find you follow? You follow Abel esports? You know,

Unknown:

where can they find out more? Yeah, I believe sports are most

Unknown:

active channel as most esports is Twitter. So just April

Unknown:

esports. One word, so there's a double either in the middle, on

Unknown:

Twitter, myself for the esports side of things. April underscore

Unknown:

mil SO MI l.

Unknown:

On Twitter again, and just more professionally or more

Unknown:

generally, LinkedIn, the middle of the NACA, the only only one

Unknown:

with that name out there. So not too difficult to, to find. And

Unknown:

otherwise, we're all we're on all socials. But I think Twitter

Unknown:

and LinkedIn this place.

Unknown:

I love the differentiated approach, you're taking your

Unknown:

meal, I think you're like the absolute perfect piece of like,

Unknown:

someone who can succeed in esports, while still having a

Unknown:

nine to five. I mean, it's just, it gives hope, I think to so

Unknown:

many people who are passionate about the space. And I hope that

Unknown:

everyone is inspired by someone like you who's done it. So

Unknown:

incredible story. Love what you guys are doing. Thank you for

Unknown:

being on the show, Jimmy Thank you, as always, obviously to our

Unknown:

listeners, just a couple of housekeeping points. One, make

Unknown:

sure to tune into our live stream guys and set a new time

Unknown:

we do it every Wednesday 2:30pm Eastern time. It's like a like

Unknown:

doing a work webinar during the day so you shouldn't be missing

Unknown:

it. Tell your boss you're working. Tune into the live

Unknown:

stream. It's so much more fun when you guys show up live. And

Unknown:

also, make sure you subscribe to the business of esports and

Unknown:

follow the business of esports everywhere or on Instagram on

Unknown:

tick tock on LinkedIn on YouTube. I know forgetting a

Unknown:

million other platforms, but we're everywhere. It's all

Unknown:

business of esports are busy sports. We really appreciate you

Unknown:

guys listening tuning in every week.

Unknown:

Emile thank you guys. Thank you all our listeners. Don't forget

Unknown:

guys, the most important thing. The future is fun. We'll see you

Unknown:

guys next week.

Unknown:

Thanks for listening to the business of esports podcast.

Unknown:

Check us out at the business of esports.com and on Twitter at

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