My interest in Technology started back in 1984 when as a 14-year-old schoolboy I was on work experience at IBM Hursley just outside Winchester in the UK. Some of IBM’s brightest technologist were inventing the next generation of mass market technology right on my doorstep and what they were doing excited me as I could see how technology was going to change and improve our lives.
I was a bit of a free thinker (dreamer) at school which did me no good when it came to exam time but helped me to think differently to others especially when problems needed to be solved. I have all of my entrepreneurial life tried to look at what is happening around me and more importantly the things that are coming down the road to help solve business challenges. One business I set up in 1997 in Hong Kong was changing the way big corporations manage their brands to ensure that they achieved the consistency’s that they required. I simply took the hard copy brand guidelines they used and put them online so all stakeholders could access them with added functionality that allowed faster approval processes and cost savings. This should have been a massive success had it not been what these companies really wanted to use their new “intranets” for in the early days. This was my first lesson about timing can be everything in business!
I got into the gambling industry by chance in 1999 once we realised that Brand Guardian needed to pivot and build what businesses wanted! We were doing some brand and translation work for Ladbrokes helping them get into Asia and I really liked what I saw was how the gambling industry was using the internet to build their businesses and thought I would like to get involved with that. So I sold my stake in Brand Guardian and moved back to the UK to look at the opportunities in the sector.
I have been an entrepreneur in the gambling industry for over 16 years now having been an operator in online and land-based businesses. The last one before GamCrowd was the Fox Poker Club, London’s first poker club which we sold to Genting in 2011. So I have seen first-hand where the industry has come from to what it is now and I like to think I have a good understanding of where it can go.
GamCrowd was founded to solve two problems which I had first-hand experience off. Finding investment for your gambling business and accessing skills and expertise to help get your idea of the ground. I had been reading books about alternative finance and the sharing economy and realised that both these new technology trends could be used to solve these problems. So I launched GamCrowd the first crowdfunding and crowdsourcing platform for the gambling industry.
We built the platform using the “Lean Startup” approach using crowdsourcing and we and crowd funded ourselves through our platform first off to prove the concept. Some of the great and good of the online gambling world invested and raised the amount we needed in record time. However, the success was short lived as we soon realised that where people knew me and my partner Ian Hogg and our track records in the industry, people didn’t know the start-up management teams we were trying to raise money for. Our investors liked to see a few more KPI’s from the start up to feel comfortable about investing which many of them did not have.
So we needed to pivot! As part of understanding the start-up eco-system, I immersed myself in the London Tech scene and found that as an industry that has built and is developing great technology that it was not being reported like other tech sectors do. Alongside this, I found start-ups lacked a basic knowledge of the gambling industry and that there was nowhere for them to get clear advice about some of the complexities of our industry. So we have launched GamCrowd news and the GamCrowd Studio to help solve these two issues.
GamCrowd news is the first news channel to solely focus on ideas and innovation coming from within and outside the gambling industry. Using GamCrowds knowledge and expertise of the gambling industry we are able to look at tech and trends and report on how we see these impacting or disrupting our industry. With technology being developed and implemented in ever faster time, it is hard for any company management to keep on top of what they need to know to help build and protect their business. GamCrowd news will help you with this. We will be covering a different tech trend each month so hopefully by the end of each month you will have a better understanding of that tech and what it could mean to you. Out first month October is blockchain month.
GamCrowd studio is a free online resource filled with advice from industry experts and pointers from the people that have been there before. What we have done is to break the industry down into its component parts and get industry experts to cover each topic strand. So whatever stage your business is at you can find advice and news from the areas of interest to you. The studio is free and supported by our industry partners.
What really excites me is that the gambling industry is entering a golden era in terms of the potential for unimaginable growth. As an industry, we have achieved so much in such a short time developing and adapting technology to grow our businesses. We have put bookies and casinos into everyone’s pocket and sit alongside global giants like Facebook and Goggle on the prime real estate on people phones with our apps across the globe. BUT the really mind blowing thing is that we have seen nothing yet. The internet is still in its infancy and we are still at the beginning of the beginning. There is no better time to be start up as the opportunities to invent and innovate have never been greater. Open source and platforms are bringing down the barriers to entry that were only there a few years ago.
So I like to think 2016 is the start of a technological new dawn where Ai, VR, the blockchain, the internet of things along with other tech, some of which has not yet been invented. We will continue to improve on the past 27 years since Sir Tim Berners-Lee gave us the internet with the added challenge of getting our heads around the actual pace of this change. These new opportunities will be like nothing like we have seen before and untold riches for those entrepreneurs that do what entrepreneurs have done before them. It’s good to be alive for this next chapter.
Thanks for reading my first GamCrowd blog. I hope to each month give you my take on the latest developments, ideas and innovation happening inside and outside the gambling industry. In the meantime, don’t forget to sign up for our weekly newsletter to get a summary of the week’s news from GamCrowd. You can do this at the bottom of the page.
Chris North, CEO and Co-Founder of GamCrowd.