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Gary Gillies’ Success Story from Selling SBAT for €13.7m to Building a Fast-growing Esports Platform

Updated on April 1, 2019

The Esports industry is a rapidly growing market, and Gillies happens to be one of those who catalyzed this growth with a great deal of knowledge and expertise.

As it is with every other industry, the iGaming industry has its exceptional pool of talents that has steered its course towards mainstream success. Experts forecast that it would generate $1.6 billion in 2019, which is a remarkable feat since it generated $493 million 3 years ago.

Moreover, this level of development was only achievable thanks to the insight of the industry’s think-tanks that had predicted today’s internet-crazed economy and had done enough to kick-start a major digital transformation, which has established the prominence of the iGaming industry.

One such exceptional talent is Gary Gillies, whose journey to the top showcases his resilience to the fullest. In addition to his proficiency in the technicalities that come with the sporting world, Gillies also boasts a rare level of competence in the business side of Esports that has established him as one of the authoritative figures in this space.

While his foray into Esports with his already highflying Esportjunkie might come as his latest show of business ingenuity, he had scored a number of hits earlier in his career that you would expect to have groomed him to become the entrepreneur he is today.

How Did It All Start?

Judging from his enthusiasm towards his field of work, it is clear that sports played a key role in the Scotsman's childhood days. Apparently, he had the dream of becoming a footballer while growing up, however, his love for business drove him to start up an IT solutions business, which later paved the way into the iGaming industry.

While researching for a gaming website project, Gillies stumbled upon the nascent social media affiliate market and this spurred him to launch his very own bookmaker platform, SBAT in 2012.

What sets SBAT apart was its early beginnings that essentially relied on marketing strategies that looked to create iGaming awareness on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, which, at the time, had nascent iGaming communities.

Another factor that proved decisive in the successful run of the startup is its in-house SEO structure, which Gillies claims helped its growing team keep an eye on the details and helped launch a more direct business model, resulting in a strong root in the iGaming industry in the UK.

According to him, “SEO was one of the most daunting aspects of iGaming. Since the industry was still nascent, Ninety-eight percent of SEO experts weren’t familiar with iGaming, the 1% that did were engaged in one project or the other, and the 1% that were available were unemployed for a reason. That may seem harsh, but it's just what I observed. So for me, the best way to attack SEO was to learn, learn and learn some more! Take on opinions and research them. Rather than try to hire the 1% that was amazing, we tried to get them to train us.”

Due to this unorthodox but effective approach, four years after the launch of SBAT, its various pages on social media had garnered 500,000 likes and the company was fast rising as a force to reckon with in the global iGaming industry.

In terms of workforce, the company’s home office in Andover housed 14 core workers while 18 more were working as contractors and writers.

In light of SBAT’s explosive growth, it was no surprise when a big name market specialist, Catena Media, agreed to acquire the company from Gillies for a staggering €13.7 million Euros. Months after the deal was completed, Stockholm-based Catena Media amended the terms of the deal in order to bring Gillies back as a permanent contributor to SBAT’s operations.

Apart from the "all hands on deck" approach that separates Gillies as a successful businessman, he also mentioned that his decision to stick to a community-based business model, even in his foray into the global iGaming market, was key to his effectiveness as a business executive in his various affiliated projects.

Even from a young age, he understood that the sporting world is passion-driven. As such, if you are going to win the attention of the average sports fan, then you must tap into this passion and offer him/her a way to access what he/she loves most about sports.

In a statement that corroborates this school of thought, Gillies, in 2017, stated, after the launch of SBAT’s football stats app. that:

“I wanted to create something that gave football fans everything they wanted all in one place… The app caters for the casual watcher just wanting to check form and track live scores, as well as the stat-obsessed who like to check everything in detail.”

Gary Gillies Brings his Wealth of Experience to the Esports Industry

Already, Gillies’ wealth of experience in the iGaming and IT industry is beginning to show in Esports as Eportsjunkie (his latest project) continues its upward trend in the nascent industry. As expected, being aware of the closely knitted nature of global Esports community, he has built the burgeoning Esports media company on a community inclined foundation.

Alongside Esportsjunkie, Gillies also mentioned Codigo Bonuses as a side project he’s working on.

Although the industry has done remarkably well in its little time of existence, it’s certain that adding Gillies to its already impressive pool of talents will go a long way to speed-up its quest for mainstream adoption.


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