ReadyUp has launched a platform to keep track of esports and gaming events. The company says its technology automates the process of marketing events, and it even puts event reminders into the calendars of attendees.
The platform is the brainchild of Roderick Alemania, a gaming veteran who had to pivot hard to find the right business. He started ReadyUp in 2017 as a way to connect players and team management for gaming and esports. The Oakland, California-based company had a lot of things going for it: Backers and advisers included famous pro gamer Johnathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel and Dan “Greenskull” Hammill, a celebrity gamer with a sizable YouTube following.
Pivoting to B2B event management
But nearly a year ago, Alemania decided to pivot away from a consumer business into a business-to-business model. That’s when ReadyUp switched to a platform for companies to stage their events so that marketing and discovery can be much more automated, less expensive, and easier to execute.
“It’s really hard to find out what events are taking place and when,” Alemania said. “The video game companies don’t do the best job driving awareness. Once you become aware of an event, there’s really no easy way to put it into your calendar on your mobile phone. We also feel the industry hasn’t done a good job surrounding that event with all the ways to engage in a transaction. That’s what ReadyUp is doing.”
He added, “We really view events broadly. It could be an online or an offline tournament. You can stream video content or release a product or have an in-game event like a concert. But we really view events as the impetus for bringing gamers together about their shared passion.”
Each year, the game industry averages thousands of events, including but not limited to tournaments, downloadable content, streams, in-game experiences, and big announcements. These events can be the foundation to drive transactions. However, Alemania thought the industry lacked a dynamic platform to fulfill the needs of modern gaming events: discovery, engagement, calendaring, and transactions.
“Startups are an exercise of building and then listening and iterating based upon what the market tells you is resonating with their needs,” Alemania said. “This is what the market told us to do.”
ReadyUp’s customers can use the platform to engage the audience, getting them to follow their favorite games, register for tournaments, watch live content, buy tickets and merchandise, share with friends, and sync with their personal mobile calendars so they never miss their favorite events. Whether an event is online or in person, global or grassroots, in-game or in real life, ReadyUp wants to enhance the gamer experience and drive social commerce in the moment, Alemania said.
“From an operation standpoint, this creates a lot of financial efficiencies,” he said. “The fact that we’re not direct to consumer means that I don’t have user acquisition costs, which, as you know, is by far the largest marketing cost for anyone in the direct consumer space.”
The company has raised a new round from angel investors including Mark Jung, former CEO of IGN Entertainment, and Carter Lipscomb, former director of publisher relations at Sony PlayStation. It also has advisers including J Moses, a member of Take-Two Interactive’s board. (ReadyUp isn’t disclosing the exact amount of funding.)
Working with gaming partners
ReadyUp is analogous to OpenTable, the service that helps diners discover restaurants, except ReadyUp helps its partners’ audiences discover gaming events. And just like OpenTable, ReadyUp aims to drive transactions.
Initial partners include ESL Gaming, NACE, and Topgolf. Those partners collectively have an audience of more than 15 million people.
“ESL is integrating ReadyUp into their owned and operated media,” Alemania said. “And that could be their websites, their social channels, and their native mobile app. Eventually, it could be integrated into a game.”
On top of that, ReadyUp has created an admin tool for partners to manage their events. Organizers can use it to run promotions by leveraging a master database connected to the admin tool. Consumers are notoriously bad about putting information for an event into their calendar. ReadyUp does it for them, and it can do so in an automated way so that it isn’t laborious for partners that have a lot of events. It’s also easy to add a call to action such as a ticket purchase.
Launching in the pandemic
It turned out the pandemic was a good time to launch ReadyUp, as companies had just been through the horrendous task of rescheduling a bunch of physical events and turning them into digital events. (We did that for GamesBeat Summit 2020 back in April.)
“During the coronavirus, we found that most major event companies were managing their events through spreadsheets,” he said. “When COVID-19 hit, they had to manually make all the changes and manually change the messaging. We took a manual process and made it automated.”
The company has 11 employees in the U.S., Canada, and South Africa.
“Every startup is a journey, and this is no different than any other startup I’ve had,” Alemania said. “It’s been fun. It’s exciting to launch the product, and we’re seeing really strong product market fit right now. This is by far the hardest, but most rewarding, thing I’ve ever done in my career. I’m glad I did it later in my career because experience counts for a lot of things.”