Larger affiliates in the online gambling space often catch the urge to launch their own casino brand. The transition makes sense as it’s a new and exciting venture with the potential for huge return if done properly, not to mention a big affiliate knows how to drive traffic.
What some of these affiliates fail to realize is the enormous amount of time and effort that goes in to launching and running an online casino brand and even if done well, the financial returns won’t come immediately. However, if all these factors have been taken into account in advance, the successful launch of an online brand can be an extremely rewarding experience and also quite lucrative.
Sebastiaan Z is a former affiliate and the co-founder of Casino Ventura, a new online casino brand in our space. Sebastiaan spent some time with me explaining why he and his partner decided to branch out into operator-hood, how their casino is different, some of the biggest challenges they faced along the way and shared some advice for others who are thinking of launching their own brand.
Becky Liggero: Thank you so much for joining me today, Sebastiaan. Lets start with your background in the online gambling industry and why did you decided to launch your own brand?
SZ: We’ve always dreamed of managing our own casino. We thought the casino market to be too much dark, and want to brighten it up. By the end of 2012 we started to seriously look in to the possibilities offered all over the internet and started to build up a network.
We started in 2013 with an online casino affiliate site, and later also a binary affiliate site. Our top priority with those sites was to enter the world of online gambling, start building up a network, learn all about the latest trends and experiment on conversion tactics. We both kept our fulltime jobs, because we knew that we wanted to become an operator ourselves. We were working 16-18 hours a day, seven days a week for 3 years, and every day getting closer to our dream.
BL: I know of other affiliates who share your same dream, but this is such a competitive market. In what ways does Casino Ventura stand out from the literally thousands of other brands out there today?
- Where most casinos are dark, we choose for a light lay out. Ventura means (in Spanish/Italian) happiness, well-being, good fortune, and that is exactly what we want our customers enjoy when playing at our casino.
- We are very proud about our enormous game collection, all the important game providers are there like Microgaming, Netent, Betsoft, Evolution and more. Quality is guaranteed. We offer 650+ games, which will keep the players excited for a much longer period.
- Casino Ventura has been optimised for the perfect easy-to-use experience. No distractions, but straight and simple. Useable and understandable for everybody.
- We have a long term vision and philosophy. We want to build a known top-brand for now and for the future. Our salary is at this point the least of our concerns. All profits made will flow back into the casino with several investments that we’ve carefully planned out. This way we want create a steady grow to the top.
- Casino Ventura offers a superb mobile environment.
- Most brands are just a brand. We love and treasure our casino and will make sure everything will be done 110% transparent, safe and fair.
BL: Its one thing to have a fantastic offering as you do, but another to get the word out with so many big, established, trusted brands that are already available to consumers. How do you plan to initially attract players and win their trust?
SZ: We’ve already made some great marketing partners, and we’re always looking to extend our team of acquisition partners. Every affiliate, big and small, can request whatever they believe is necessary. We specially love partners who are not afraid to think outside the box and will do everything in our power to provide them with whatever they need.
We want to take ‘personal’ to a whole new level, with each player individually approached. When you play at Casino Ventura you will receive, on top of the loyalty rewards, personal customized bonus offers, and when you contact support we will know you. You’re not a customer number; you’re part of the Ventura family!
We also believe customer support should have two important principals, First Time Right and Speed. Issues should be solved immediately, not within 1 hour, or 2 hours, or 24 hours. Live, with the player involved in the process. We expect nothing less than 100% score on the First Time Right principal, and 95% on solved within 30 minutes. That is a high bar, but evident for building a good relation with the player.
BL: I love your dedication to speedy customer support and a personal approach. Can you tell us what your biggest challenges have been along the way?
SZ: In 2014 we were ready to launch a small white label casino for the Russian market. We invested all money we gathered at that point and were one week from go-live. During that time Russia, EU and USA started to sanction each other, and on top of that changed Russia its internet laws. Our license got voided, our contract was undone by ‘force majeure’ and we ended up where we started and with empty pockets. That was quite a disappointment to overcome, but we were determined to make our dream come true. The lessons learned throughout the process later turned out to be of enormous value.
Finding the right people to work with is also very challenging. We could never have done what we’ve achieved on our own and we consider ourselves team players.
We didn’t want to hand out shares, so we had to come up with every coin by ourselves. Of course the necessary investments to get Casino Ventura up and running, but we also found it very important to start with a healthy reserve for player withdrawals before the first deposit has even been made because we want to build a solid reputation with quick withdrawals. In our vision, the liquidity of a company may never be the cause of any player discomfort.
Our families had to make a lot of sacrifices, also putting our relationships to the test. All our time went into Casino Ventura and we had barely time for something else for the last three years. Without their support none of this would have been possible.
BL: So true, I think a lot of smaller operators don’t realize the work that goes into launching a new brand, its life consuming. So taking into account the past three years of your efforts, what is your top piece of advice for anyone wishing to launch their own brand in the iGaming industry?
SZ: Create a winning team. Nobody can do it alone. Work only with people that you trust and make sure everybody benefits from success.
Don’t expect quick and easy money, but work, work and then work some more, until you’ve earned the success.
Every development goes through 3 stages; first it’s impossible, then it’s not allowed, and in the third stage you realise you should have done it much earlier. Perseverance and patience are the keywords of every entrepreneur.
BL: Any final words to share with our readers?
SZ: After three years of non-stop work, our real job finally begins. And that is to convince the world that we are here to stay, that we offer the highest quality in games and that we offer the best support a player could wish.
BL: Thank you for your time today, Sebastiaan and best of luck with your new venture.