The In Conversation series is an opportunity for us to go deep with the people behind Victory Square Technologies’ over twenty plus portfolio companies and give you an in-depth look inside what it is they do and who they are.
The latest in the series is a conversation with Matt Bailey of Game On Entertainment Technologies. Matt sat down with former CBC Radio host James Graham to break down just what GameOn does, drop wisdom on the team he’s built around him, and tell us whether he’s a rugby or AFL kinda person.
James Graham: Let’s start off easy, what’s an Aussie bloke doing on this side of the pond?
Matt Bailey: My story starts in Wollongong, Australia, where I was born and raised. I grew up a diehard sports fan, parlaying that love into education by studying Sports Business, and then a career, working for Cricket Australia, the National Rugby League, and Australia’s largest television network, Nine Entertainment. In 2013, with a sense of adventure, I quit my job and boarded a one-way ticket to New York. Just a young Aussie with major league dreams. I spent the next five years climbing the corporate ladder of American sports, working on platforms including the Harlem Globetrotters, the Brooklyn Nets, Barclays Center, and the LA Dodgers, and partnering with brands including Ford, T-Mobile, and Vita Coco. Eight years later, I’m still having a blast on my American adventure.
JG: Tell us about the roots of GameOn and what inspired it.
MB: GameOn was founded to empower fans with the world’s simplest and most accessible gamification platform. A free-to-play experience that turns sports and entertainment content into an engaging and immersive experience. Today, we not only empower fans, but also content-providers the content providers themselves. Be it TV networks, OTT platforms, sportsbooks, teams or leagues, we help our partners turn their content – everything from sports to reality TV – into interactive and social experiences via white-labeled mobile and TV apps.
JG: What effect has your history with brand partnerships had on making things happen?
MB: Two key experiences prepared me for entrepreneurship:
The first is sales (in my case, brand partnerships). Sales isn’t a flashy role, so most of us finish school thinking we don’t want to do it, myself included. I’d implore any student reading this to absolutely start with a sales role, especially if they have entrepreneurial dreams. Sales is tough. It involves a ton of putting yourself out there only to be rejected, over and over again. This is a good thing! You quickly learn that no’s are OK. In fact, a fast no is the next best thing to a yes (and much better than a long, drawn-out no), and you build a pain tolerance to rejection.
Good salespeople also learn to talk less and listen more, a skill that can only be acquired through practice. This helps you craft the conversation around what you hear. Lastly, sales teaches relationships, arguably the most important part of a sell. All of this has shaped me into the sales and relationships-driven person I am today.
The second experience that prepared me for being a Founder was moving to a new country with nothing established. I had big dreams and was fairly naive as to what it would take to achieve them, especially with little professional experience. The grind and hustle it took to get from one step to the next, over a period of several years, armored me with the pain tolerance I need to take on entrepreneurship day-in, day-out.
JG: What was the biggest thing you learned from those years spent working amongst the pinnacle of U.S. sports?
MB: It’s hard to nail down a single key learning. If I had to, and this would be more related to my function of sales, it’d be embracing rejection as I mentioned earlier.
In general, I love being part of a team environment. Going to the arena, watching games and feeling part of the team seasons was amazing. I missed that when I first dove into the startup world, especially when it was just me for a long time. Now, we’re scaling fast and I’m loving the task of inspiring our team towards ambitious goals and building an envious company culture.
JG; How do you achieve growth in a competitive field?
MB: People (check), relationships (check), capital (check), and strategic tactics like M&A (stay tuned).
JG: How did GameOn get to where it is today?
MB: If you ask what gets me out of bed each morning, my answer every time will be people. That’s what we build our business around. On our roster are the most talented and amazing humans in the business. Our team boasts leaders from EA Sports, Dapper Labs, Scopely, the Brooklyn Nets, and Intuit, and on our board of Directors and Advisors are the brains behind Take-Two Interactive, LaLiga, FC Barcelona, and FansUnite. Most importantly, we’re overflowing with people from all walks of life and perspectives. I’m proud to say that more than two-thirds of our employees, Advisors, and Directors are women or minorities. People are how GameOn got to where it is today.
JG: How does the GameOn app translate into non-sports-related entertainment concepts?
MB: The GameOn platform is applicable to any and all content, from sports to reality TV to elections and all in between. Our programmatic prediction engine just needs data (like play-by-play or closed captions), and we totally programmate the prediction experience. Our platform is leverageable for sports, as you can see with our flagship GameOn apps, as well as entertainment, like our white label projects. It’s the same platform no matter the content.
JG: What makes GameOn different from the other bodies in your competitive landscape?
MB: We’re pushing the gamification boundaries like no one else. Not only do we innovate on what programming you can gamify (like reality TV), but also what platforms you can play on (like first screens). Even more so, on our roadmap are exciting complementary products that vertically integrate the gamification product we’ve already built. Finally, we have a powerful cash position to execute. It’s game time!
JG: Why is gamification the difference-maker?
MB: Gamification brings people together. Bragging rights are at the core of what matters to fans – not just sports fans, but fans of all content. Take The Bachelor as an example. They consider themselves part of the Bachelor Nation, although most of that activity, including gamification types of engagement, happens outside the content-owners environment. GameOn helps bring that back into the right place and is more actionable and monetizable.
We’re not stopping at gamification. We’re actively exploring complementary products that can vertically integrate our prediction games platform. Watch this space.
JG: What can you tell us about the public listing?
MB: I couldn’t be more excited as we enter the next chapter of our evolution. The opportunity ahead of us is once in a lifetime. Not only is sports betting and gamification in the most-promising position in North American history, but in addition, first and second-screen engagement is at an all-time high. More than ever, traditional content-owners and distributors are in dire need of innovative ways to engage the fan. With the perfect storm of resources, people, and opportunity around us, we are poised to capitalize.
JG: What don’t we know about GameOn that perhaps we should?
MB: We’ve gone from 2 people to 10 since COVID, and will double that by end-of-2021. We can’t wait to share more as our team and products progress.
JG: What don’t we know about Matt Bailey that we should?
MB: I’m a bit of a nomad, and have been lucky enough to live in several amazing places like Sydney, Croatia, New York, and now Miami. I look forward to checking a few more off the list and am bullish on growing a predominantly remote team.
JG: AFL or Rugby?
MB: Rugby! North Americans may be surprised to learn there are two types of Rugby – League, and Union – both totally different sports with very different rules and fan bases. Rugby Union is the more popular of the two in the Americas and what you’re most likely aware of, whereas Rugby League is the most popular in Australia and more closely resembles American Football. Which code you support is heavily influenced by where you grew up. I’m from a city close to Sydney, so I’m a Rugby League guy, but I can definitely enjoy a good game of Rugby Union or AFL.
JG: What’s next that people need to know about?
MB: We have a few key announcements upcoming on team and partnerships, although I’m tight-lipped for now. Stay tuned.
Matt Bailey is the man behind GameOn Entertainment Technologies. Ask him how he knows a Socceroo.
James Graham is still very tall. If you time it right, you can hear him on the radio.