This gaming startup is establishing esports in India with 300,000 registered gamers
In the age of smartphones, people are practically living virtual lives. But in an esports league, your virtual avatar can actually help you earn a living. In esports, people take online games very seriously, and Gamerji is one such mobile app platform on Android and iOS where more than 20 tournaments are hosted daily for games like PUBG, Call of Duty, and Free Fire. This startup was founded by Soham Thacker and Varun Gajjar in 2019.
Once a user once registers on the app they can join these tournaments for an entry fee and get to compete with other gamers. Gamerji’s team moderates the tournaments for fair play and in the end, the winners are given cash prizes.
"We are average gamers who never got a chance to play professionally or gain any benefits by playing online games. There are multiple esports tournaments hosted worldwide for pro-level gamers, but what about the 99.9 percent of the other casual gamers who still spend hours every day playing the same game? This made us realise the gap and the potential of hosting virtual tournaments where these gamers get a chance to make a mark and also make money," Soham tells YourStory.
Founders and history
Soham Thacker is a Computer Engineer who finished his undergraduate studies in the US in 2008, and moved back to India in 2012 after working for corporates like Motorola and Colgate Palmolive. Soham met investor Varun Gajjar through social connections in 2014.
Before starting Gamerji, Soham and Varun worked together on a startup called Fixpocket which was a freelance service marketplace, and Fantasyji which is a fantasy sports platform. During their journey with Fantasyji, they realised the potential of esports and that its demand among the semi-pro gamers was large. Hence, they founded Gamerji.
Esports is an evolving industry in India with companies focused on running offline tournaments, creating content, developing games, and building a gaming community. In B2B segment, companies organise events for esports tournaments for popular game development firms. Gamerji, on the other hand, holds its share of the B2C market by developing content and organising virtual tournaments.
In 2019, Gamerji was launched with a pan India squad tournament called Air Drop 1.0 which has more than 4,000 participants. This tournament gained immense popularity in the gaming community and got Gamerji its first set of paying customers. Gamerji was funded by Varun Gajjar, who is also a serial angel investor, and with a team of enterprising experts, he put in Rs 1.25 crores at the inception of the company.
"Esports as an industry is still in its teething stages in India and requires awareness. The biggest challenge Gamerji faces is educating the gamers on how they can play in a competitive environment and eventually make a name for themselves as gamers," says Varun.
Gamerji generates its revenue through two different models:
- League Joinings: Tournaments on the platform are joined by paying an entry fee. A percentage of the joining amount is distributed as winnings and the rest is kept by Gamerji as platform fees.
- Sponsored Leagues: Companies wanting to market their brand/product to the gaming audience can sponsor a tournament.
In Tier-I cities, there is significant awareness about competitive video gaming, but awareness about esports is scant outside of urban centres, and that's why Gamerji believes its audiences are in the metros. In the next 18 months, Gamerji plans to gain more than 1.5 million gamers with tournaments of more than 10 games on the platform by securing its seed round of funding within the next three months.
"Gamerji is the only platform from India to be selected by the Qatar Sports Tech committee for esports with a record of hosting a tournament for more than 12,000 people in one day," says Soham.
Currently, Gamerji has more than 300,000 registered gamers on the platform with an average league joining fee of Rs 25 per entry. This makes Gamerji the largest paid tournament platform in the country with unique features like gaming profile, content, communication and cross-game leaderboard, making it a single stop for competitive video gaming.
The startup’s revenues are growing exponentially and Gamerji expects to generate more than Rs 3 crore revenue by the end of this year. According to Statista, the gaming industry is currently valued at Rs 6,200 crore, and is expected to grow to Rs 25,000 crore by 2024.
The startup competes with companies like WorldGaming, UMG Gaming, and Playtonia.
Edited by Kanishk Singh