Lee Davy sits down with Luckbox CEO, Lars Lien, to talk about the positive impact the PokerStars’ founders had on his life, why integrity is his most important value, and much, much more.
You still can’t make a bet, but, slowly, and surely, the esports betting platform with a beating heart the shape of a Red Spade, is transforming into something beautiful.
For once, this week, the team didn’t announce that another Titan of the gambling or esports industry had joined the mission. Instead, we received news that the organisation has a new website, and I have to admit, it looks spiffing.
Check it out.
I wanted to celebrate the launch, but I don’t eat cake, so I grabbed hold of Luckbox’s CEO, Lars Lien, to ask him a few questions instead.
Who is Lars Lien?
A 36-year-old Norwegian who’s spent the last 15 years all over the world, working with game publishers, virtual currency trading operations, betting companies as well as within esports media.
Right now I’ve taken the sum of my experiences to create and lead the Luckbox project.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Working with games. Before discovering my entrepreneurial ambitions, I wanted to be a professional gamer. Being the best at something is really appealing to me.
What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do?
Informing an entire office of their impending redundancy.
What did it teach you about yourself?
That I was not ready for the big leagues, and that putting people’s livelihoods at risk is not something I ever want to do again, so I took several steps down to restart my career and make sure it was built on solid foundations.
Who are the people who have had the biggest impact on your life, and what did you learn from them?
PokerStars founders Mark and Isai Scheinberg. My role didn’t require frequent interaction with them, but the way their transferred their values to the entire company was incredible.
It can be summed up by one memorable interaction I had with Mark, where the team went deep into what in hindsight were rather silly issues. Mark simply said “don’t overanalyse, just do the right thing”, and that was the example that was consistently set across the company.
Especially in cases that involved the customer, whether internal or external. Staff was exceptionally well taken care of, while customer-facing policies (particularly refunds) were very generous.
The result? An extremely loyal team and an extremely loyal customer base.
If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be and why?
Honestly wouldn’t change a thing. I have massive room for improvement in many areas, so does everyone, but don’t think there’s anything I’d fundamentally change.
What are you most proud of?
Luckbox. The team we’ve managed to build is just incredible. It was beyond my wildest dreams just a year ago to hire the superheroes we’ve now got.
What do you see when you look at the world?
Insanity. It’s a rather sad state of affairs when you legitimately believe you could do a better job than certain world leaders.
What are your core values and why are they important to you?
Integrity, hands down. You can’t quantify the benefit of people remembering you as a stand-up guy, but it’s the reason we’ve been able to build the team we have.
Who influences your work?
As I have mentioned, the founders of PokerStars and many of the people I worked with there were hugely influential. I’m lucky that some of those people are now alongside me at Luckbox and they are still having an impact on the way we work.
What were the main reasons you chose Luckbox?
I have always wanted to work in gaming, and when esports finally showed signs of taking off in the West, I knew I wanted in. To me, there wasn’t a choice of “if”, but rather how and when.
If you could achieve only one thing this year what would it be and why (or have you achieved it?)
Launching a product esports fans love.
What change are you trying to make in your role?
We believe betting has a place in any sport, as it significantly increases viewership and engagement, but that it has to be done right. Our brand ambassador, Paul ‘Redeye’ Chaloner, wrote an excellent piece summing it up this week.
What happens because of your work?
Everything and nothing. I am a facilitator and help bring people together, by communicating and aligning the team on our vision and values, but the people on the team are the real superstars.
What three things do you want to do in the next five years?
Take good care of my family.
Build a company people are proud to work for.
Help shape and grow esports.
What are the five critical steps to your personal success?
I think there have only been two or three *critical* steps, but here goes:
First, is growing up with a family that created a strong foundation and instilled me with a great deal of confidence that whatever happens, I’ll be OK. Knowing they would always take care of me if I failed, I was able to follow opportunities across the world.
Second, a burning passion for my something. In my case, competitive computer games.
Third, working at PokerStars
Fourth, accepting that, sometimes, you’re going to fail
Fifth, learning that failing is a key ingredient to success
If you’ve made it this far, you know why 🙂