Founder Profile: The Team Building The Youtube of Card Games
- Jan 14, 2019
Key Deal Stats
Raising Platform: Republic
Valuation Cap: $9MM
Security Type: Crowd SAFE
Amount Raised Prior To Round: $750K
Minimum Investment: $10
To date and as of 1/4/19, CardBoard Live has raised $9.5K
Odds are if you pay attention to pop culture at all you have heard of PewDewPie who has 80 million subscribers on his Youtube channel and is regarded by many in the gaming community as the best player.
If I can just go back, PewDewPie has 80 million subscribers to his Youtube channel and plays video games professionally for a living. Whether you realize it or not, the online video gaming streaming industry has blown up in recent years and has become a global phenomena with 666 million viewers globally.
With this massive demand and vastly growing market, Wilson Hunter and James Hsu saw an opportunity to bring video content to the offline world of gaming, including card games like Magic.
Not surprisingly, the team has already gained 10K+ pre-launch signups for their platform and over 50K views per day. There is clearly a pent up demand for what this team is building and we think there is a real market opportunity at hand for Cardboard Live. It’s one of those businesses where you can’t help but say, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
Check out our discussion with Co-Founder & CEO, Wilson Hunter below.
What is your background and how did you decide to found Cardboard Live?
Wilson: I’m a professional Magic: the Gathering player with a business background in design, marketing, sales, and general entrepreneurship. My partner James is a software engineer and product manager with professional experience at Yahoo!, Amazon, and Microsoft. CBL started as a small business idea to develop a better pricing model for trading cards and integrate that pricing with existing inventory management systems of hobby game retailers.
With the realization that the use of these trading cards in live tournament streams significantly affects the community perception of the value, the idea morphed into a focus on interactive livestreaming and image recognition. After creating early stream enhancements and listening to community feedback, CBL pivoting to a larger focus on revolutionizing livestreaming of hobby games (physical game content as opposed to video games), and the selling of trading cards is one of several revenue streams in this model.
Can you talk about the market opportunity that exist for your product and why now is the right time?
Wilson: Over 30 million people play our go-to-market game, Magic: the Gathering, with an estimated 200 million people purchasing hobby games in a growing $10B global market. Additionally, viewing live esports entertainment continues to skyrocket in popularity.
Combining growth and popular interest in hobby games and esports with technological innovations in machine vision (image recognition), now is the perfect time to do what we are doing.
Why has no one else done this yet and how will you differentiate from potential competitors?
Wilson: Platform giants like Twitch and YouTube rely on a generalist approach to support live streaming. They haven’t done what we are doing because their general solutions have been “good enough” for the community. Thanks to technological innovation and and growing interest in hobby games, now is a great time for an interactive, tailored approach to streaming content that has unique problems.
We will differentiate with IP, fast community growth, and creating specialized solutions each type of user required to stream a card or board game event. Players, tournament organizers, judges, casters (streamers), viewers, and stores are all different users types with specialized input needs we are addressing.
Who is the typical type of person that is watching board game / card game players online? Is this the same group that’s watching video games?
Wilson: There is certainly overlap with video game viewership, however, there is a higher density of college-educated professionals and fewer children under 18 because of the higher cost requirements to play card and board games.
What is the monetization strategy for Cardboard Live?
Wilson: Our three revenue streams include a freemium subscription model proven to be effective by Twitch, advertising from video ads, and fees on sales of products integrated with the stream. Individual streamers will also generate revenue from each of these sources.
You’ve had impressive early traction. What has driven this and how do you plan to continue to scale rapidly?
Wilson: Magic: the Gathering players and viewers needed what we created. We did this because we are ideal users of our stream enhancements, and we have many relationships with influencers in the space. To continue to scale rapidly we will need to raise funds quickly to build our team of developers and to continue building exciting interactive stream features.
As part of this scaling exercise are you partnering with any companies? If so, who?
Wilson: We are partnering with several major hobby games retailers and Magic tournament series. We plan to turn on card sales revenue soon to test buying behavior with our retail partners.
From a product perspective what features do you plan to offer customers and what are you hearing your customers want?
Wilson: We know viewers want to be able to click on a card anywhere on the screen and read rules for or purchase the card. We are close to completing this feature. We currently have interactive decklists, player bios, standings, and deck archetype analysis features, and we are adding to this suite of interactive tools using streamer/viewer feedback on what enhancements they would like to see next.
What prior investment have you received and how has this been used?
Wilson: We have received $750,000 in seed funding and have primarily used these funds for product development.
How will the capital in this round be utilized to grow the business?
Wilson: We still have a large focus on product development, but we also plan to ramp up marketing. We plan to offer a CBL tournament partner package that offers incentives to small hobby shops who choose to stream their events using our tools. We currently sponsor the #1 Magic: the Gathering professional team and reigning Pro Tour champion, and we plan to use marketing funds to continue to grow our network of influencer partners.
What types of companies do you think would see Cardboard Live as an acquisition candidate?
Wilson: Primarily existing livestream and ecommerce platforms, but also large game creators. There are several key candidates that are likely obvious to the reader.
Once you grow into the US market would you consider international expansion? If so, which countries, and how much opportunity lies there?
Wilson: We believe there are significant opportunities in China and have started developing relationships with this in mind. There are unique requirements and hurdles for doing business in China, but it could be very rewarding if we navigate the opportunity successfully. In addition to China, our platform is easily applicable to Europe and already has many European users.
These founders have keyed in on gamers passion for watching other gamers. While we might not all understand the desire to watch others play games, it’s hard to deny that the market demand is vast and they are at the forefront of a movement that is only continuing to gain momentum.
This is one that we think has hockey stick growth in front of it with a simple, intuitive, much desired product. Wish you thought of this? Be sure to invest HERE.