These days, mostly everyone is on some sort of social community platform. Let’s take Facebook for example. According to the World Economic Forum, Facebook would be bigger than China if it was a country. To put that into perspective, China’s population in 2016 was 1,382,323,332 (Source: worldometers.info).
There are also platforms where we can find events near us like meetup.com or eventbrite.com. Why, then, do gamers and fans of eSports have trouble finding events geared towards their community? It’s because there isn’t a platform out there yet that is known enough to the gaming community that can bring like-minded gamers and fans together.
What is eSports?
We realize that some of our readers might not know what eSports is so here’s a quick video to explain (Source: CNN):
Fun fact: The League of Legends championship sold out Staples Center in 45 minutes with 36 million viewers. That’s HUGE, guys! It has been said that that’s an even bigger audience than an NHL audience.
So, now that we know how big a deal eSports is, this bring us to our next question..
What is Ward eSports and Who Is the Team Behind the Project?
Ward eSports is developing a web platform connecting organizers and eSports fans. In a nutshell one of the team members, Felix Lincuna is an entrepreneur who is solving a personal problem in the eSports community. We decided to speak with him because that’s the essence of entrepreneurship– seeing problems and finding solutions. He is a marketing professional and lives in Jersey City. Felix is an avid gamer which is why he’s very familiar with the problems the gaming community deals with.
One of the things that I’ve noticed about Felix from the start is that he’s extremely team-oriented. I believe their story wouldn’t be complete if we only wrote about Felix. Fortunately, he invited us to one of their team workshops and we got the chance to meet the development team, Cindy Kim, Vinh Nguyen, and Linh Le.
Linh has been working with Felix in different projects for about two years and went to school for graphic design. She has 5 years experience as a designer and is currently working for herself, as so many of us do or aim to do. When Ward eSports came about, she realized she liked it so much and it was a project that she was passionate about in building. She is currently the designer for the project.
Vinh has been with Ward eSports for about a month and he is the front-end developer. He wanted to challenge himself and learn something new along the way, so he decided to join the project. As a gamer, this project was something that definitely interested him after learning about it through a friend of Linh’s.
Cindy, interestingly, connected with Felix only a few weeks back and met with the team for their first workshop the same day we interviewed them. She went to FIT for fashion, worked for 3 years, and then decided to do a career change. So, she ended up taking a 3-month immersive web development course and stumbled upon Ward eSports while looking for a project to challenge her skillsets and to be a part of a project that she believes in. She is now the back-end developer for Ward eSports.
The Ward eSports Story
Koren and I are part of the Kearny Works co-working community and that’s how we met Felix. We decided to stop by the space one day since we were around the area and Felix and his brother were by the entrance. His brother asked if we were there for the League of Legends meetup they were hosting and I said that we weren’t, but we were open to check it out.
So, we actually followed them to their event since we ended up taking the same elevator together. We got to talking with Felix about what we do and agreed on meeting up the following day so we can find out more about the Ward eSports entrepreneur journey.
Here is a snippet of our conversation that I think you guys will find valuable:
“How did you come up with the name Ward eSports?”
Felix: “The name comes from an in-game item that illuminates a vision in the fog of war, a place where players are unable to see. We picked Ward eSports because, simply, we want fans to find gaming communities where they are unable find.”
“What was the idea behind Ward eSports?”
Felix: “The idea behind Ward eSports is to solve a problem a lot of gamers are having. A lot of eSports fans right now are looking for a community and it’s very hard to find. We wanted to solve that and we believe Ward eSports is the solution in helping organizers and eSports fans communicate better.”
“So, basically, you and your team saw what was missing in the marketplace for the gaming community and you guys are now aiming to fill that gap?”
Felix: “Yes, and it’s actually a personal problem for me too. I initially first saw the problem back then. I played a lot of Counter Strike and eSports wasn’t really a thing at that time. You just play, but I actually wanted to meet people and compete in tournaments but I wasn’t able to. There wasn’t a lot of places to go to so I ended up playing with friends and never got to compete with the best. So, I ended up putting it as a hobby and putting it aside. That personal problem is really arising now with eSports becoming something meaningful to the younger generation. We see their problem like I saw when I was young and we want to be able to help them solve that so, that way, they can organize better and be a better community.”
Vinh: “For me, I knew that people were trying to connect to local events but there wasn’t really any popular means or an efficient way of doing it. I never really addressed it until Felix brought it up and I was like, ‘Oh this is actually a pretty good idea.'”
Cindy: “I think that it’s a niche that wasn’t addressed back then. A lot of people are online and you meet people online but you never really think that there’s local communities. That also applies to a lot of gamers being introverts and they don’t like to go to social events. Knowing that you can have a community online and there are other people to meet around similar to you, I think that’s intriguing.”
“How do you raise awareness for your brand?”
Felix: “What we do is we hold events and raise awareness on our brand, what we are, and what we’re about. Last year we launched our alpha platform and we talked to community organizers and introduced them to a new way of communicating with eSports fans. From that, we kind of just gained a little bit of users in the mobile platform. For us, the alpha platform was a way for us to see how the market reacts to it.”
Linh: “When I was on twitch, someone randomly came onto my stream and asked what we were doing this for and he started going to the stream a lot and he’s been wondering when the next events are.”
Vinh: “I try to pretty much tell all my friends about it. I know friends that are searching for different games.”
“Did they react positively?”
Felix: “They reacted pretty well, but we weren’t able to react as quick as we can because there was a lot of development process to it. You know, when you release a new platform, you might receive feedback and find new ways on how the platform could be better. We’re just placing lot of our findings and learnings from the alpha platform to the current project.”
“So you guys pivoted. Along that line, what do you think it takes for a startup or a product to become successful?”
Felix: “Yes, we pivoted to mobile platform to web platform. Definitely be passionate about and believe in what you’re doing. Those should drive you to be able to pursue that project. My personal advice, you take on something that you personally believe yourself. Something you can give it your all.
You also have to learn different skill sets and how to be more patient. You have to embody calmness and doing all the things necessary as well as showing leadership to the team.”
Linh: “If everyone on the team is really passionate and they take it on as their own project. Everyone just takes ownership and is their own entrepreneur. That really is what makes It work. It’s the passion behind it.”
“What do you think is the one mistake entrepreneurs make?”
Felix: “A lot of people don’t realize what entrepreneurs have to BE. When you dive into entrepreneurship, you actually don’t realize the amount roles you have to play. You have to think about the project, the team, talking to the right people, finance, accounting and the logistics. If you comprise all this together, one person may not be able to handle in the beginning. I believe there is no real answer to this question, you just have to make mistakes along the way and figure out what works for you and continue with your journey.”
Cindy: “Over budgeting. I feel like a lot of startups get so consumed with what people expect what a startup is– free events and they have all these outings and we have happy hour every day. But it’s really being smart about your business, right? It’s not just about going by what society expects what a startup should be, but handling it as a real business and not ‘we’re here to have fun and we’re against corporate and this is gonna be completely different.'”
“What are your thoughts on failure?”
Felix: “Learning to be happy and accept your failures. There’s something that we all know what we can’t do but I believe you can still keep going the best way you can.”
“How do you keep your team motivated and the vision strong when you face obstacles and hiccups on the road?”
Felix: “That’s a very good question and I wouldn’t say I’d know the answer 100%, but it just starts with enjoying each other’s company. We play the same games, like the same things, like being in a community and that’s a connection. There is no secret to keeping the team motivated. You just enjoy the process of it and just keep learning. When you put too much pressure on a team, it not fun anymore and it just something you don’t really wanna do.
We’re all talented and very good at something. Right now, we’re at the point where if you have an idea, it’s something that you know if it’s needed, feel free to do it. It’s self motivation and inspiration. In the end, it’s a project we all want to be in and believe in.”
Linh: “Staying calm during the hiccups. Make sure that other people are calm especially the ones on staff so that the attendees are calm as well.
And what’s interesting about Ward eSports is that everyone is a volunteer here. It’s nothing promotional for us. It’s all out of passion and that’s how we’re able to stay motivated.”
“How did you end up choosing your team?”
Felix: “A lot of people like what we’re doing and they wanna be a part of it and that’s how we’ve been transitioning. Most of our team members just came to events and, next thing you know, we realized they were very good at certain things and we ended up working together. There was just mutual interest once Ward eSports was introduced. I think everyone’s good at something and collaborating on something that we’re all good at, I think that’s what makes it exciting. We’re almost like a family.”
Linh: “Yeah, the people are great. We already have good relationships as friends.”
“How rewarding is it to be an entrepreneur?”
Felix: “A lot of people think it’s cool, but it’s really not that cool. It’s not something that one should glorify. It’s just something that you focus on, create goals and you kind of just phase outside noises.
For me, knowing that I’m passionate about solving this personal problem in the gaming community, I think that for me, is more rewarding.”
Linh: “I personally feel rewarded every time we have an event. Each time more people start showing up, you start realizing that you’re actually reaching out to them and that the community if growing based off of just the same common interest.”
“Knowing what you know now, what would you change?”
Felix: “Make the alpha platform timeline shorter. Now, the focus is to move faster, talk to the right people and create realistic goals.”
Linh: “Organizing and making sure that everything just goes clean and smooth.”
“What’s your vision for Ward eSports?”
Felix: “The overall vision is to connect the ever growing eSports fans in just one community platform where everyone can join.”
Vinh: “This was an opportunity for me to work on a development team and be a part of something that may make a difference in something that I’m passionate about.”
Cindy: “I think, for my vision, it’s personal growth and honing my skills as a developer, but also for seeing this project to grow in to something meaningful to the community.”
“Any general advice?”
Felix: “Nothing beats being organized. It starts with your personal life. That’s how you’re able to keep focus because if you’re not able to do that in your personal life, then definitely your startup or your project is a big mess. You have to fix things one by one and keep moving forward.”
Cindy: “Looking back I always said no, that’s not for me. I kind of put myself in a box of what I thought I was without really thinking about what I could be . But when you say yes to things, it opens up opportunities. Having a plan is great but also being open to other opportunities. Yes, it might not be a part of your plan, but it could lead to greater things.”
“Ultimately, the entrepreneurial journey is something you kind of can’t compare what other people are doing and what you should do. So, it’s more like this is my step one and this is my step two and this is where I’m going.” -Felix
“I think at this point, we’re in a space where, if we don’t align interests, it’s okay. It’s a good stepping stone into moving forward with each project. Kind of like what your site is, just don’t give up.” -Felix
“Once we were able to understand our failures with the alpha platform, we definitely felt more confident in moving forward on building our next platform.” -Felix
“I learned that it’s never too late to do anything you really believe in.” -Cindy
So, that’s that! After the initial meet up, we met with Felix a couple of more times and we’ve been learning a lot! We’ve thrown around a couple of ideas and it seems like we could be collaborating on a big project. We hope you guys enjoyed this segment on a team of Boundary Breakers!
Ward eSports Development Team
The Ward eSports team welcomes individuals who believes in the growth of their platform. If you are a software engineer, growth hacker, entrepreneur, or just want to say hi, feel free to reach out to the team!
Here’s a 3-minute video of the interview made by korendezvous, enjoy!
Check out their website and social sites to learn more about their platform and sign up for their Ward eSports beta!