How/when did you first get involved with the gaming industry?
I first got involved in the gaming industry about two years after graduating from Bristol Uni. My good friend Will Griffiths (who now runs an egaming creative agency out of Costa Rica) was working in the gambling industry at the time – he was one of the industry veterans. He was having an amazing time – travelling the world, going to conferences and parties and making more money than most people our age. I persuaded him to help me get a job and I ended up working for the same company as him.
What attracted you to this sector?
I suppose it was the lifestyle and being part of an exciting and growing industry that initially attracted me to working in online gaming. I then stayed working in this sector because I found it fun, challenging and I met some great people which meant that I enjoyed what I was doing. I met my business partner, Ed Stevens, in 2005 and since then we have set up quite a few ventures together which has been a great learning process.
What were you doing prior to the gaming industry?
Prior to the gaming industry I worked for a technology company – I don’t think it was really the job for me but I met some great people working there including Rob Noble, who became a non-exec director in Jack Media and all the companies that I subsequently set up. It was great to have someone with so much business experience on board because I was only 25 when I co-founded Jack Media.
What are you responsible for in your current position?
I am a board director at MC&C Media – Jack Media merged with MC&C Media in April last year. I have board responsibility for all our gambling clients and ensure that we are doing everything we can as an agency to deliver sustainable, profitable growth for our clients. I also help out on all things digital since this is where my experience lies.
What have been the biggest industry changes you’ve seen in your time?
Within a few months of launching Jack Media online gambling was made illegal in the US. Luckily we managed to capitalise on the growth of online gambling in the UK market and concentrate our efforts here instead.
What are the biggest positive factors for your sector right now?
There is a lot of competition in the UK and I think that this has meant that operators are looking more closely at their media spend and its effectiveness. Things like proper attribution modelling are going to allow operators to start making smarter decisions about their media – this is something that our clients are asking us about more and more.
And what are the negatives ones – the obstacles to growth?
The gaming tax that is coming in at the end of the year. I don’t think anyone knows what affect that is going to have at the moment.
Looking at your entire career, what do you think was your smartest move?
Deciding to launch a specialist gambling agency in 2005 was a good decision. A lot of the bigger agencies didn’t have that good an understanding of the sector initially, so it was a relatively easy sell to clients. It was also around that time that the industry was really booming in the UK. I think more recently the decision to merge with MC&C Media has been a good one as it has enabled us to offer a wider range of services to our clients, such as TV, which has seen some fantastic results.
And dumbest one?
I think that I have made lots of mistakes in my career but it’s the making of these mistakes that makes you learn and do better next time so I don’t have a problem with that. One of the companies that we set up called Gaming Alerts (which received investment from Theo Paphitis on Dragon’s Den) ended up failing, but I learnt a lot from that and since then have been involved in 4 successful companies.
Where do you hope you’ll be, professionally, in ten years’ time?
That is a good question – I’m not sure. I need to be challenged and doing a job that I enjoy so as long as I can continue doing that I will be happy.
If you’d never embarked on this career, what other line(s) of work would you have liked to pursue?
When I was a little I wanted to be a sweetie shop lady. Other than that I never had any thoughts about my career, I just landed in the right industry so I’ve been lucky.