Henry James, is the Founder & CEO of Espo an esports fan engagement platform being built by avid gamers who share a passion for the vibrant world of competitive video gaming.
When did you initially become interested in competitive esports?
My interest in esports first started when I was a university undergrad and expanded in 2012 thanks to the summer DreamHack and The International. I immediately got absorbed in the shared passion of other fans and the skill level of the pros.
Could you describe what Espo is?
Espo is a fan engagement platform that will reward collaboration between world-class esports team, players, fans and sponsors. We’re partnering up with a growing number of teams including F2K, GODSENT and Team Queso, enabling them to offer exclusive Fan Perks to users on Espo. We’ve also got an in-house sponsorship team who are introducing Espo and our Team Partners to companies and brands in our network. Our intent is for sponsors to offer their own Fan Perks too.
What’s the genesis story behind Espo?
I love this question. Last October I took a last minute to Spain to get some sun and relaxation before the weather got cold and dull in London. In recent years I’ve noticed that I always reach my most creative state of mind when I’m on holiday and just relaxing. It was during this trip that I became obsessed with how to solve a problem that exists today, but that didn’t exist when I first got into esports. As esports, has got bigger and bigger, a gap has formed between fans and pro players, so I got thinking how I could create a platform that would help close this gap and bring fans to the heart of the action. This is where and how the initial concept for a new, multi-team, esports fan engagement platform began and I knew I could draw on my past experience of launching sportstech and fintech platforms.
Could you discuss some of the community building efforts at Espo?
Sure! Building community around Espo is super important to us and we’ve been humbled by the support and kindness of the more than 10,000 people who have pre-registered to the platform since June and those who have joined our chats on Discord and other social media channels. We love speaking with our community members every day and we’ve created dedicated rooms for the fans of our Team Partners on our Discord. We’re promoting our Team Partners and finding that many of our community members are showing new interest and loyalty towards our Team Partners, which is amazing for us to see and be a part of. Our Community Incentive Program is our next major community building initiative, which will reward those who take part with EXP points (www.espo.io/cip). It goes live on October 1.
Espo will be offering loyalty points which are known as EXP points. How do players earn EXP points and what type of perks can players expect from them?
EXP can be used to redeem a wide variety of exclusive Fan Perks ranging from coaching sessions, private matches and VOD reviews, to limited-edition team merch, movie nights, personalized messages from players and opportunities to create content for our Team Partners. All of these Fan Perks and many many more are the result of hundreds of interviews we’ve conducted with esports fans from around the world. We’ve always focused on creating a platform that offers what fans want and not what we think fans want. Users of the Espo platform can earn EXP points in 3 ways. By participating in our Community Incentive Program. By sponsoring the Campaigns of our Team Partners. And by purchasing products on our Store.
What type of teams will be on the platform?
Expect to see more world-class teams on Espo in the days and weeks ahead. F2K, GODSENT and Team Queso are the first batch of Team Partners we announced last month and we’re working with them to create their first Campaigns, which are scheduled to go live from launch next month. Last week we inked a partnership with a fourth team and we’re in discussion with several other teams. There are 3 criteria we look for in Team Partners. They have to be winning teams playing at the highest level. They must have a good track record of serving corporate sponsors. And most importantly of all, they must fully buy in to our vision to bring esports fans to the heart of the action. If I feel a team isn’t equally committed to this vision as us, then it’s not the right fit.
You are a serial entrepreneur being the founder of multiple companies. Do you still find the time to play or follow esports?
My friends and colleagues are sometimes surprised to hear that I have the time to play games, but gaming is a great way for me to give my mind a break from work! Playing Warzone isn’t exactly relaxing for me as it gets so intense, but it’s a huge amount of fun and I was victorious in solos and duos with my friend Louis for the first time this month, which has been a personal highlight for me! I like to have esports tournies playing at home. ESL Cologne was awesome and I’m looking forward to Worlds.
Is there anything else that you would like to share about Espo?
Launch of the Espo platform is currently scheduled for October so pre-register today and claim your unique username on Espo. We’ll be announcing our next batch of Team Partners on Twitter and our other social media channels next month, so stay tuned for those and don’t forget you can get a head-start in boosting your EXP balance by signing up to our Community Incentive Program.
Thank you for the great interview. Readers who wish to learn more should visit Espo.