Experience and Knowledge for Global Aspirations

From his office in Sliema, Tsachi Maimon is on the steering wheel of a fast growing, private company, embracing regulatory, compliance and technical challenges for one simple purpose: to offer a one stop turnkey solution for white label operators.

It has been almost three years since you became Aspire Global’s CEO – how would you summarise them?aspire_tsachi-maimon-lg

It’s been an amazing journey, both personally and professionally. My family relocated to sunny Malta for this job and it’s been an exciting experience for us all. Malta is the best place to meet colleagues, other operators and suppliers on a regular basis. It’s not just the business meetings either; being able to socialise with other gaming professionals is really useful too. It is so much easier doing business with people whom you know in real life. The fact that so many colleagues decided to put their faith in us and become partners in our journey is amazing. This growth has given us the ability to add more tools to our system, integrate new 3rd party content providers, and bring on board a wealth of new sources. It also means that we’re now well-known in the industry, which is really exciting since it opens the doors to a whole host of new opportunities.

Tell us about the market trends from your experience over the last three years.

The two main trends in the last three years have been regulation and competition. The growth of regulation has been great in terms of opening up more acquisition channels and improving public perception. However, it has also increased operating costs for gaming businesses. We’re not just talking gaming duty, although that can be painful – there are also the added expenses of ensuring operational compliance and the technical overhead of regulatory reporting. We are also seeing increased competition, with more small and medium operators in the market now offering different unique selling points and targeting different market niches. Whether it’s bigger bonuses, better user experience, faster support, or offering popular localised games, this competition can only be good for players. Since a happy player is a loyal player, it’s good for the operators who get things right too. Overall, these two trends have led to many operators feeling the squeeze on their margins. While revenues have been growing nicely, profits are lagging for many companies.

How did you cope with these trends?

Fortunately, Aspire Global isn’t new to the online casino game. We have been able to adapt gradually to the new operating environment by implementing methods to cope with multiple markets and changing regulations. We are currently preparing to enter our sixth regulated market, and have already launched several casino apps in the ones in which we already operate. Our team is very experienced with the process of gaining regulatory approval.

Something we do differently, rather than just better, is lifetime value estimation. We have developed an analytical system with a formula to identify the likely lifetime value and cash flow of a player after just a few days in the system. When I say lifetime value, I mean it. We can tell our operators a few days after they start a campaign what their players are really worth. This means that they can quickly reinforce their successes and cut their losses. The industry is currently too competitive to waste money on ineffective marketing.

“Platform stability is vital. You can’t make money if a part of your service has gone offline or isn’t communicating with another part. Players these days simply will not put up with anything less than 100% uptime when they have so many other choices”

Now that 2016 is almost behind us, I can summarise and say that it has been a successful year for Aspire Global in terms of new white label operators. To what do you attribute this success?

It was indeed a very good year. I’m glad that we invested in making sure our infrastructure was easily scalable before the start of the year. The most significant reason for this growth is that we have great partners. They are achieving success working with us, and because of this, they are recommending us to others. No salesperson is as effective as a happy customer at generating new business. I’m also really proud of the fact that some of our operators are so happy with their results that they are opening second brands with us to allow them to expand even faster. We are always delighted when our operators are successful. We enjoy very close relationships with all our partners and care for their businesses as though we own them ourselves. We know that ultimately, our partners’ results will determine how far we go, so we are determined to resolve any issue or request they might have quickly and efficiently. We want to make sure that nothing falls through the cracks and is forgotten. We know from our partners’ results that this approach works, and we know from the number of referrals we get that they truly appreciate our ownership approach.

From your experience what are the 3 most important things for your potential partners?

Through years of experience in the market and by undertaking in-depth research, I can conclude that firstly partners are looking for a platform provider that offers a full turnkey solution. It must be capable of doing everything the operator needs. Otherwise, you will be dealing with multiple providers, and that’s when things can become confusing and inefficient. Secondly, platform stability is vital. You can’t make money if a part of your service has gone offline or isn’t communicating with another part. Players these days simply will not put up with anything less than 100% uptime when they have so many other choices. Thirdly, a dynamic provider, which can operate in multiple regulatory environments opens up more options for expanding an operator’s business and makes their life much easier than having to deal with compliance alone.

Do you think anyone can become an operator?

No, I don’t think anyone can do it, but I think a lot more people could do it than currently are available. The path to success is to focus on what you do best. In our industry, there are many companies, and even individual affiliates, who are experts in marketing and branding, but either don’t try to do the other stuff or don’t do it well enough. That’s where we come in. Our business is designed to provide a solution for this sort of person. By taking care of the operational side of things, we free them up to focus on marketing their own world-class product.

Who are your potential partners?

Broadly speaking, we work with three main types of companies. The first is existing brands that want to improve their profitability. We are able to offer them better tools and a more stable platform, ensuring that they’re not held back by their platform provider. We also work with affiliates who want to become operators. Affiliates are already doing all of the hard work in marketing other people’s brands, so partnering with us is the next logical step for them. We take care of all the operational tasks, so the main change they see is being able to own their players and keep more of the revenue. Increasingly, we’re seeing media companies without any gaming experience enter the space. They already have the audience; it’s just a matter of plugging in our turnkey solution to get their casino up and running.

Your business model is a little different from those of other platform providers – can you explain how and why?

Our guiding principle is to create genuine partnerships with our operators. We want to have customers who are happy and successful because that’s the best way to create a business relationship for the long-term. The two most notable things that are different about our business model are our scalability and ability to charge based on Net Revenue.

“2017 is going to be a very exciting year. We will be introducing Sports Betting, which will be a new vertical for most of our partners.”

Because we have a large network of operators, we are able to obtain very competitive rates from payment providers and for 3rd party royalties. Adding a mark-up to these external services is a hidden source of income for some providers, but can create a conflict of interest. The thing I’m most proud of is that most of our charges are based on our operators’ Net Gaming Revenue. This is not the industry standard, but we believe that it is the best way to fully align our interests with those of our partners.

What can you offer to to operators that are unique?

In terms of acquisition, we offer different apps for different countries. Over the last two years, we have seen the effectiveness of this approach as our operators have been able to generate a significant number of new players from channels they weren’t previously exposed to. Once they have acquired the players, we offer them over 100 in-house games that they will only find in our network. The variety of options offered by the combination of our proprietary games and a wide selection from third party providers increases player satisfaction and lifetime value.

What can you tell us about AG’s plans for 2017?

2017 is going to be a very exciting year. We will be introducing Sports Betting, which will be a new vertical for most of our partners. We are also planning to launch in our sixth regulated market. There will be more nice surprises for our partner operators next year, but I don’t want to give too much away at the moment.

This article was published first on SiGMA Magazine. The magazine was launched at SiGMA show last November. For SiGMA17 sponsorship opportunities click here.

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