Video games have been Riad Chikhani's lifelong obsession. First, it was Mario at age four, then 4-6 hours a day of RuneScape by age 10. Now, age 22, gaming is his business.
Riad’s company, Gamurs Group, runs a series of websites that cater to eSports fans.
“The easiest way to explain eSports is competitive video gaming,” he says. “Essentially people will pay video games like Call of Duty, FIFA, whatnot, for prize pools from $1000 to $25 million dollars a year.”
Gamurs Group covers the eSports world (its tournaments, latest games, and more) through its news website, Dot eSports. Its other sites offer a range of services to gamers. One called CS:GO Stats, for example, offers a detailed breakdown of a player’s performance statistics - letting you know how you stack up against others.
It’s the kind of stuff those outside the online gaming would struggle to understand – but for those in it, Riad’s websites feed an insatiable appetite for gaming information, statistics and news.
So how is it all monetised?
“We monetised Dot eSports and our social content offering through advertising,” Riad says. “We also provide sponsored content to businesses that are looking to promote natively to our users.”
This financial year, Gamurs Group is on track to turn over about 1.5 million dollars.
But Riad's success comes off the back a few false starts. His initial idea was to create a social media network specifically for gamers.
“We ditched that because we ended up raising half a million dollars’ worth of capital and we were working to validate the idea, but ultimately a social network needs virality to succeed – every user needs to tell another user to come on. People weren’t actually doing that.”
So he pivoted to his current model, providing gaming content and services.
Gamurs Group now has a second office in the US, and is looking to expand further. Currently, about 80 per cent of their website visitors come from English speaking countries like the US and UK.
And of its 35 employees, almost all are millennial.
“It’s great, everyone’s around the same sort of mindset, no one's thinking they're better than another person,” says Andrew Nguyen, the companies baby-faced Director of Technology.
Luckily for them, playing video games on the job still counts as work.
Watch this story at the top of the page, or catch the full episode on SBS On Demand.