Side Hustle City

S4 - Ep25 - Mastering the Game: Exploring the World of eSports with Matthew Santalla and eSports Tower

June 07, 2023 Adam Koehler & Kyle Stevie with Matthew Santalla Season 2 Episode 25
Side Hustle City
S4 - Ep25 - Mastering the Game: Exploring the World of eSports with Matthew Santalla and eSports Tower
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ever wondered what it takes to excel in the booming world of eSports? Join us as we chat with Matthew Santalla, eSports Tower operator and Driftwood Capital Vice President of Technology, about his journey and how the rapidly growing eSports industry is creating countless opportunities for players and influencers alike.

Together, we discuss crucial skills and conduct necessary for success in eSports, with Matthew emphasizing the importance of communication, teamwork, conflict resolution, and problem-solving. You'll hear about eSports Tower and its mission to provide a platform for disciplined gameplay while offering resources and opportunities to aspiring players. We also examine the role of media, advertising, and collegiate partnerships in helping players become successful streamers and influencers.

Don't miss this fascinating conversation where we explore the ins and outs of eSports Tower, and learn how traditional sports celebrities and investors are taking notice of this exciting industry. Whether you're an eSports enthusiast or simply curious about the world of competitive gaming, this episode is packed with insights and interesting stories that you won't want to miss!

As you're inspired to embark on your own side hustle journey after listening to this episode, you might wonder where to start or how to make your vision a reality. That's where our trusted partner, Reversed Out Creative comes in. Specializing in strategic branding and digital marketing, Reversed Out Creative is an advertising agency dedicated to helping you turn your side hustle into your main hustle. With a team of experienced professionals and a track record of helping clients achieve their dreams, they are ready to assist you in reaching your goals. To find out more about how they can elevate your side hustle, visit www.reversedout.com today and start your journey towards success. Our blog is also full of great information that we work hard on to provide you with a leg up on the competition. We also recently launched our YouTube Channel, Marketing Pro Trends,  which summarizes all of our blog posts.

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Speaker 2:

Welcome to Side Hustle City And thanks for joining us. Our goal is to help you connect to real people who found success turning their side hustle into a main hustle, and we hope you can too. I'm Adam Kaler. I'm joined by Kyle Stevy, my cohost. Let's get started, all right? Welcome back, everybody, to the Side Hustle City podcast. We have Kyle Stevy joining us remotely. He is not at my side today in the lovely podcast studio that I spent all this money to build, but he is rather at his podcast studio in the kitchen in his house, and his wife almost kicked him out. Welcome, kyle.

Speaker 3:

Yep Well, thanks for having me today.

Speaker 2:

And also we've got Matthew Santala right And Matthew runs a well, he does a couple of things. He runs this awesome eSports tower. So we're going to talk a little bit about eSports today. But also works for is this like a? it's a family office, right, this Driftwood Capital? Yep.

Speaker 4:

Driftwood is a family office commercial real estate sponsor in the alternative assets space for hospitality focused assets. Love it man.

Speaker 3:

Well thanks, yeah, we are.

Speaker 2:

We talked a little bit before this, But Matt thanks for being on the show man.

Speaker 4:

Well, thank you so much for having me. It's a pleasure to meet both of you guys.

Speaker 2:

Yes, we talked a little bit before and, man, you got something going on that you know little bit of what I do, little bit of what Kyle Stevy does. Everybody knows Kyle Stevy wrote the book Digital Melting all about digital assets and the future of digital assets and, and you know, just essentially building awareness around the idea of it, because not many people understand digitization and tokenization and they just they're just not hip to it. So Kyle Stevy wrote a manual and it took him like a year or two years, right, kyle, to write that thing.

Speaker 3:

Two years because I'm lazy and I procrastinate.

Speaker 2:

But we were real excited about it. And when there's a few episodes back, guys, if you want to learn more about it, Kyle talks all about it. But it's a big win for us on the podcast here because one of us actually completed something that we wanted to do.

Speaker 3:

This is where good ideas go to die.

Speaker 2:

It kind of is. But, matt man, it sounds like you're rocking and rolling man Talk to us a little bit about your background, like you know where'd you come from, you know what were your interests, you know how'd you get into eSports and and and then how'd you get into this, this private office here? Let's listen.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, no, i appreciate it. I'll go back to the beginning, but not too far. How I got interested in eSports? I guess I'll start there.

Speaker 4:

I like playing video games, like any other kid out there, and I think everybody gravitates towards the video game that makes the most sense to them, as every video game out there is different, just like every sport is different. I was a big sports guy myself as well, so I really saw the similarities between structured sport like soccer and playing Rocket League very much the same, just different mechanics and more interesting functions that were built into the game and nuances, and that's really what attracted me as well, as it wasn't as popular yet. I think that always interests children specifically is what's new and what's cool and what's hip And what is this thing that may feel natural to me that I can understand, that not a lot of other people understand, and I think that a lot of kids, when they first engage with a video game, they have that feeling. They're oh, either I'm really really good at this and I don't know why, but it's fun, i'm going to keep playing it, or this is a really interesting puzzle. I may not be very good at it, but I can see a route to getting better at it right. Very similar to how you might see a natural athlete and somebody who's not as natural to begin with, but they both love the sport very, very deeply. And that's where my love for eSports came out of. It was it was a community building thing, it was something to do with my friends, it was something I could do on my own.

Speaker 4:

And as I developed up through middle and high school I was definitely in that part, that age of eSports, where it hadn't the structured elements hadn't really trickled down to that age group yet. A lot of the resources that interested me were how to play tournaments online or how to get on streams and really just how to get on some sort of a platform to show my talent as a player and to see where I could take it. And in doing that I found myself at the time that everybody does where it's time, to go to college and pick what I wanted to do for life. And I was just interested in computers and video games and things like that And I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do yet. So I picked a Polytechnic University here in Florida. If you guys have ever heard of Florida Polytechnic University up in Lakeland. It is just engineering, science, mathematics and computer scientists. And I spent my time there, you know, learning more and more about computers and systems and information and communication, and that really opened up the world of eSports to me even more, because I started to see the business elements of it.

Speaker 4:

Right, you know, i was always looking at eSports and saying, how do I make this part of my life? How do you, you know, how do you sustain interest around something like this from others? How do you, how do I make this what I get to do every day? And the answer to that is well, either better be your job or it better be your business. And to me, making eSports a business just sounded like the best combination of everything that I enjoyed. I enjoyed business. I enjoyed community and people and communication and providing value for others And being able to do that with the thing that interests me most. And that was my past time. I just I couldn't look away from that. So I spent my time in college figuring out how to prove that concept out And eventually we got to to eSports Tower what we have today, but you know, it didn't always look look like it does today And I'm very, very thankful for what we've been able to develop into with some incredibly smart partners on our team as well.

Speaker 4:

I do not do this alone. I am. You know. We have a full time CEO, david Adams, as well as a CFO, craig, and we have an incredible CMO as well who comes from Comcast and a background in, you know, media and advertising And through you know, the combination of all of our different skill sets. Our CEO and CFO, or Wharton grads really, really smart guys, built tons of businesses in the past And they they found me while I was in college, after I had built the collegiate eSports program at my university.

Speaker 4:

We had run events, we had done tournaments, we had done broadcasting, advertising, the whole nine. Basically, we tried to start a business as a school club And instead of taking profit, we just kept cycling the money that that that club would produce into growing the club and into growing things for that community and for the players. And so they found me after actually consulting Full Sail University, who was, you know, the top eSports program in the country at that time, and Full Sail actually recommended me to them. So they got in contact with me, gave me their idea of Hey, we've got this company eSports Tower yes, brand new, and we're looking to break into the space. We have an idea of what the space needs, but we don't really know how to go about executing it at that time. So they were really looking to me, as somebody on the ground with experience in these events and in these communities and in these games, to be a part of the team so that we can all work together to bring the idea to fruition.

Speaker 2:

Love it man. Yeah, i just just had Full Sail. Last year I was showing my knee around different schools, so we went to SCAD, we went to Full Sail, we went to a couple of them down there, and you know she's really into fine art or whatever, but her brother, my nephew, is big time into video games and sports. So I think we may be making that trip again. But yours is more of like a training program, so yours is. Is yours like a school? I mean, is this like do you get a degree after you do this, or do you just reach a certain level and then you join a team? or how does this work?

Speaker 4:

Yeah, i think the best way to describe Esports Tower is developmental club program. We modeled it very much after the club programs that you see in traditional sports. Now those clubs. A great comparison to make would be if you see a player who's very talented at soccer at the high school level, right, they're going to play on their high school team, but they're also most likely going to play on a club or a travel team as well. And that's where you're going to get those. College scouts are going to take a look at you, that's where you're going to get plugged into those institutions, earn scholarships, really advance your career and give you that leg up.

Speaker 4:

We saw school teams and school clubs being developed for Esports, even at the high school and middle school level, and we said you know, those are going to be in control of the schools. We saw a couple other organizations trying to find their fit in the market with the schools directly And we saw that as a very difficult route with a lot of red tape. So we said, well, where can we provide value that the market has already, you know, in other verticals similar to Esports, responded positively to that model And we said, hey, let's look at sports and where that value with this age group really lines up. And that's where my partners brought the idea to me of a private club. And when we originally started it, the private clubs were going to be physical locations in Esports arenas that were, you know, weekly gatherings of teams of players that have dedicated coaches with curriculum coaching. You know, you have bot review, you have classroom time and then you have actual practice time like any other sports.

Speaker 4:

So there's the work to be done on the field and off the field from a strategic point of view, from a mechanical point of view, but there's also the same elements that any young person is going to get out of any structured community sport or activity that they're doing, especially when it's something that includes a mentor or a coach. And those were those personal character, developmental skills that we saw. A lot of parents actually were really looking for a program that their child, who had such strong interests, maybe in Esports but not traditional sports, could apply to and become a part of and start to develop those skills from interacting with other players, other students, in a positively structured environment, because, as we all know, online games are a wild west, but when you're really focused on improving your skills and you have a goal that you're working towards being able to get into a program or be in a place or be on a team or group of people with that same mindset and those same goals it can be incredibly powerful for all the individuals that are a part of that.

Speaker 3:

It's crazy. I don't know how long ago it was. I guess My sons are 22 now, so I guess they were probably right around 13, 14. And they were watching people play I don't know what game was watching people play online on YouTube, watching people play video games and I lost my fucking shit. I was like what are you doing? I can't outside and go play.

Speaker 3:

So when you're talking about um, um, like actually development, like you're developing a picture, or you're developing a lacrosse player or whatever, for some people they can't wrap their brain around it. It took me about three years and then I was like you're being stupid, like, if came, if your boys are doing this, millions of other boys are doing this. I mean, my boys were good athletes, so it wasn't like. This was their ability to get into like a virtual reality world where they were a star. They were already pretty damn good for on the soccer field It was. They enjoyed watching other people do what they like to do at a higher level, and they're learning as well.

Speaker 3:

That's exactly why I watched Air Jordan like, oh, michael Jordan's highlight videos. That's why I watched all Larry Bird's videos. So you, you, you, you, you. You've captured a market that is going to be far bigger than youth athletics was ever going to be. Yeah, they have already got all the systems that you know. It's not like um that, yeah. So anybody listening who can't wrap their brain around this, it's sorry, it's just how it is. You don't get on board because that's the way it's. That's the way it's moving.

Speaker 4:

I agree, and one of my major points I like to to make to people on that same, you know, note is, when you think about a sport, there is a lot that can disqualify you from being able to even feel welcome in a sport, much less excel at a sport. Right, you're, you're. There's a lot of physical limitations that that can discourage a person from wanting to even try something, right, but something like eSports is a lot less disqualifying. You know, a lot of people can have access to these gaming systems. Um, you know, you're not required to be in a physical location, right? Uh, whatever disabilities somebody may have, uh, they can compensate for with equipment. And and really it does level the playing field of saying, all right, whatever the physical limitations, let's put us all into the same digital sphere and and test our minds right, and test and test our abilities in that, in that way.

Speaker 3:

That's like um, that's why kids love Steph Curry, cause he looks like you. let me see six, three, but on TV he looks like the little kid and he's shooting from everywhere. And then they, they, they relate to that. They're like well, i can't be, uh, like a slasher, i can't dunk, but I can learn how to dribble and I can shoot the ball. And so that's what I think the video game aspect of it.

Speaker 3:

like you just said, when you have physical limitations and you've never been you know good at what most people you know get get credit for being good at, whether it's sports or whether it's school, whatever it is. but you see someone who's you know doing what you like to do and you can do it close enough to the level that you're like all right, that's got my interest. I want to learn about this a little bit more. You gain. I guess that's why I said it's going to be big. I mean right now you, soccer is the biggest sport in America, but it's not going to be in the next 10 years. It's going to be, it's going to be club. It's going to be this, it's going to be club, yeah.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, i believe it Absolutely. And remember, with an eSports, esports isn't just talking about one video game. Right, there are multitudes of video games at eSports tower. We support five different games, right, so we've got players who may be interested in multiple of those games or just one of those games, and they all require different things and different skill sets, but very similar to sports and what I would say.

Speaker 4:

You know our main focus with eSports tower, beyond just getting you to be a better mechanical player, right, we're looking to teach you those skills of communication, teamwork, you know. You know conflict resolution, problem solving. You know, we're really looking to grow these young players into the individuals that they want to be later on in life. And you hit it on the nose there, kyle being able to see somebody do something that resonates with me and my interests and, what's important to me, it gives me that inspiration that I can also do it. And when you have a program like eSports tower with, you know, regularly scheduled meetings twice a week with your team, you're getting to use a platform like Discord is where we do everything So players could join from their bedrooms.

Speaker 4:

Right, the mom doesn't have to drive you anywhere, this or that. That consistency is huge for people and it creates those rails and that structure and, essentially, that plan that they can follow to get from point A to point Z. Right, because a lot of young kids will see oh man, steph Curry, how do I be like him one day? How do I go from where I am right now to being like him one day? That's a very difficult thing if you don't have the resources or the support around you to get there, and I think a lot of players find themselves in that today just because of the lack of understanding around eSports.

Speaker 3:

I have one question Do they have like yellow cards? Because when my boys play sports their games downstairs it sounds like they have Tourette's. It's like what the fuck? That's like? they literally out of nowhere, like you're watching a show and they're playing Call of Duty or something like that and it's. What brock? you suck up. You know it's crazy. Are there, like what, our toes at the quorum, or do you give fouls?

Speaker 4:

There are definitely codes at the quorum. We have an eSports Tower player code of conduct that is instituted across our programs and all players agree to that before they're even allowed to join our program. So while you say, is there a yellow card? not an exact yellow card, and we don't flash it up in the air and say foul, but our coaches and our staff do a very active job of addressing those kinds of communication issues that you highlighted right there and connecting the dots for players right, because a lot of younger you know, i know when I was a kid I never enjoyed it when an adult corrected me about how I was speaking or this or that, or you know my emotions coming out And there's a lot of development going on there.

Speaker 4:

What we really strive to do with our professional staff who does also go through a coaching certification program. You talked about certifications. That was a key element of eSports Tower. As we said, there needs to be quality coaches in the market, not just people who know how to play the game. You have to teach them how to properly coach. Coaching is a skill. So we put them through a coaching certification program where they can handle these players and these individuals and they can teach them?

Speaker 4:

why should they care about the way that they communicate? Why should they care about how professional that they sound? Why should they care about any of these things When you start to connect the dots for players of hey, you want to be on stream one day? Do you want to be on the big main stage? Do you want advertisers backing you? Do you want a fan base? Do you want to be the best? Do you want to go to college and be able to represent an institution and their values and what they stand for? They're not going to ask you to come be a part of that if you're behaving the way that you behave now.

Speaker 4:

While we're not trying to change anybody, what we are trying to do is just offer them that information, that structure and that coaching and that help to get them to where they want to be. So when we have situations where you would say, oh, is this a foul? The game handles in-game mechanics of things like that There's not a lot of opportunity for something like an illegal slide tackle to happen. But in the communication aspects in the are you being a respectful player element of things, there's a more active part on our end from teaching those skills is that is really the main focus of eSports Tower is preparing you So when opportunities arise and are presented to you as a player, you're prepared to take them and take the most advantage of that.

Speaker 2:

Man, where were all? these opportunities.

Speaker 2:

Kyle. When I was a kid, like I went to school for computer animation, multimedia, and one of the main things is because back then I really like play video games and I would have I'd be playing Super Tech Mobile with my best friend, chris at the time, and whenever I'd I'd have gone on a long rung with Bo Jackson, because I always played with the Raiders and I was about to whoop him. He'd kick the game and turn it off So I couldn't actually beat him And then we'd get into a fight.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, game didn't finish Well, yeah, but I could see, like a lot of people, so I was big into the gaming stuff but nothing like this existed, like this wasn't even an option, which, i mean, your generation has spoiled in so many ways. I'll tell you that right now It's just crazy. Like you didn't have to go down and mess with the card catalog at the library. All you got to do is ask your phone now and it'll tell you. But I could see where tempers will flare and fights could happen.

Speaker 2:

And you know people run their mouth on those games all the time. Like I mean, you don't know the other person and you're just playing John Madden or something. And you know you're, i'm the bangles, somebody else is Steelers, i'm playing some dude in Pittsburgh. It's beyond the game. At that point It's like you're from Pittsburgh, like I'm definitely running my mouth to you, you know. And then you want to fight and it's like let's meet up in Columbus. So like how do you, how do you get those things? You know you're, you're not only teaching these people to play the game, but you're teaching them character and you're teaching them restraint and you're teaching them because things could really boil over when you're playing a game like this. Things get heated.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, we're doing our. You know what we feel is our duty to the younger generation, the same way that I would say I had incredible role models in my life to look up to and learn from how to be successful in a multitude of different ways in my communication with people, in my job, in my, you know, relationships with people, whatever that may be And we're just trying to provide that same experience for players through the vehicle that they're familiar with, which is gaming and eSports. You know, when you ask, how do, how do we really go above and beyond to control that, you know you can't control anybody, but as an organization that presents ourselves and our values and what we're trying to do and achieve, not only for our players but for our staff and for the community, and for our coaches and for our, you know, collegiate partners and our professional partners, that's where the magic really happens. If somebody is coming into our community, in our space, and they don't truly want to be a part of that, you know we're not going to allow them to do that. The same way, structured sports is not going to allow for that to happen. We should not let one bad egg, you know, ruin the fun for everybody else. And so players who come to us we really recognize, you know, they have that mindset that they want something and they want to get there and they're willing and ready to do the things that they need to do to get there. Or you know, we have a parent that's coming through and saying, hey, i have, you know, a son or a daughter and they're so interested in this and these are the problem areas and we just can't figure out how to make that connection, and sometimes it's just about connecting the passion with what's needed so that those things become, you know, one. And we talk about where these opportunities come from. You know we had to build these opportunities for players When I was in college.

Speaker 4:

You know I started developing out a lot of those collegiate partnerships because we were throwing events at our university in Florida And I remember, within my first year, we had, you know, legal legends events, rocket league events, rainbow Six events, and we had 1213 State universities bring in their teams, bring inspectors. You know we were streaming online to thousands of people. You know we had student engagement. So I saw, at a collegiate level, a lot of the problems that you're talking about And I said, well, you know, we just need to look down and use some of that expertise and call upon our partners in the you know, child developmental space, with those younger teams, and work with the schools, and we understand the problems that they were having early on. And then we were able to go to our collegiate partners and say, hey, here's the program that we've structured, here's what we want to be able to afford to you by engaging with us as part of our collegiate network. We want to supply you guys great, you know candidates that you can recruit, that you know we're going to be coming out of our program and are going to be quality. They're ready to represent your university and play for you. They're academically inclined, they're focused. Right, you know that they're not going to get up there and blow up on stage because they've been on a main stage before in our program.

Speaker 4:

A really big piece of eSports tower that doesn't, you know, necessarily always get focused on, but it's a major. Key part of our business is the media and advertising side of things, and that is to give the players a platform to exist early on, where they would have to do all that work themselves, and a lot, of, a lot of players, you know either don't have the time because they're trying to keep their skills up or that's just a lot of information to figure out how to do to become a big, successful streamer. Get yourself in front of eyeballs In front of the right eyeballs is a very difficult thing to do. So players can come in, learn these skills in our programs, practice, build community, develop as a person. And on the back end, on the other side, week to week, we are producing, you know, full production shows that are many tournaments and we have big games every single week with our collegiate partners and we're broadcasting these across major eSports distribution channels.

Speaker 4:

So if you guys are heard of like ESTV, we partner with them and we release a lot of our content there. We're on Twitch, we're on YouTube And you know we have a lot of the collegiate partners that are watching these events. We have the collegiate scouts that are offering our players college scholarships. Last year we did over $4 million and scholarships rewarded to our players, yeah. So what's our players started? I'm sorry.

Speaker 3:

That was no. After you finish. I'm sorry. I got a question in regards recruiting, so no problem.

Speaker 4:

On the last point there I was just going to say when we started the sports tower, i remember that year 15 million dollars in sports scholarships went unclaimed. What unclaimed? because there weren't sounds like rowing, yeah, there weren't the quality players to be recruited. and so you have all of these universities with programs and incredible spaces and all this ambition to do huge things and connect. and let me tell you, the thing is, we just want that younger generation because, the same way that they have a soccer or football program, that's what interests people, right, and of course, you're going to want to have those recreational things to pair up with the academic involvement, and eSports is that next step.

Speaker 4:

So universities were looking around for a partner in the youth space to say well, you know, how do we even let kids know that we have a program like this and where are we sending our people to look at good players? where can we find them? How do we know that they're good players? anybody can lie online, right. How do we know that that incredible player that we found online doesn't have an incredibly bad temper or will represent us the way that we want them to right? and how does that player know to come and apply for those scholarships. so we aggregate all of that into our community and through our technology.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, that's what I was wanting to ask because, for you know, the I don't know how to not the non eSports they have huddle, which is a website that basically is you can clip your own highlights and you can put together your own highlight package and send it to. You can send it to my dog say crazy here in a second, i'm sorry. You can send it to you know, whatever college you want to send it to. Or you can go to the National College something a scout is, i think it's in and see us or something we signed him up for, and coaches will go to that. That's, that's where they'll go and you can upload your link to huddle. You can put all your stats. You can put everything that the coach a college coach would want to see is my thing. This is somewhat similar with you And highlights and film or whatever they need on an athlete in your that's going through eTower.

Speaker 4:

Absolutely. They can see that information in our weekly produce shows live or recorded, as well, as we have special events just for collegiate scouts and partners. Anybody who's a part of our eSports Tower collegiate network is kept in constant contact and invited to events as well, as they connect with us on our discord, where our discord just has a plethora of information. That is where the players are every single day. So you talk about highlight reals and statistics and all these kinds of things, and we're working very hard on developing some future technologies that integrated across our website, across discord and and and some primary platforms that are focused on, you know, performance data, highlight reels, right. Think about the way a trading card works right and the purpose that it serves. In my opinion, there should be no reason that there isn't a virtual playing card or a virtual record of my performance. I'm going to sign up for my first account and start playing day one. If I was able to track Mickey Mantle's performance down to when he was 13 and see the change, i guarantee you there'd be a lot of value in that to collectors and sports enthusiasts around the world, and I really don't see eSports differing too much over the next 1010 years.

Speaker 3:

Is there like? this sounds silly, but is there like a physical aspect of it, like physical preparation? I mean, i don't know how long did these eSports events last? are they four hours, five hours, all day? I got to imagine. I have to imagine to build some sort of beyond, just like the ability to play the game, you have to build, have some sort of physical endurance to be able to, you know, maintain a high level.

Speaker 4:

Absolutely.

Speaker 4:

What I like to say is a physical good.

Speaker 4:

Physical well being is is just as much as your mental well being is, and that is you can see that in the content that's in the eSports Tower curriculum.

Speaker 4:

We focus heavily on teaching players and students about their bodies and what their bodies require to stay healthy so that they can maintain their performance as a player, and that includes taking breaks, resting your eyes, going outside, stretching, making sure you're getting a good enough amount of exercise on a weekly basis, drinking enough water, what kind of you know energy you need to be putting into your body to get the right kind of energy out of your body as a player and as an individual. Right, and this is a lot of information that's not usually given directly to eSports players, and it's not a focus of eSports and it's a it's a major focus for us, because the whole player is the focus for us, not just their performance in the game. Again, i would just say the games are a vehicle and they are the interest that everybody does share, and that's why they're the anchor of our business. But I would say the the true, the true focus of our business is developing that person into the best person that they can be in the ways that they want to.

Speaker 3:

Well, this is like the one. This is sorry, adam. Oh, go ahead. I'm finally talking on one of these things. This is like the one genre of sports where guys that are in their 30s can compete with guys that are in their 18, you know, in their late teens, early 20s. What about the guys that this just came around too late, but they still are pretty, pretty good? you know, they have YouTube videos, they have the streaming channel. I'm sorry, they have a decent following but they are not getting quite the opportunity they should be getting. Are they able to go through you guys, get contacts to hire them not hire up with like adult, but I mean post college based programs, or what would be the course of action for them?

Speaker 4:

So, yeah, we've had a few of those requests before and we've definitely had. We have a limit on when we allow into the programs that senior year of high school is our cut off and we definitely are not pairing high school students with a 13 or 14 year old, because there is a major difference there, right, and so when you talk about even older than that, 20s and 30s, that is not our focus in providing service there today. We have considered adult. You know versions of our products, you know where you just take the same structure and open it up for a different age group, but we just don't see as much of a focus on that or demand in that in the short term right now. So anytime somebody does connect with us, depending on what that request is. It may be connecting them to a collegiate partner, it may just be connecting them to educational resources that we share online outside of the club for free, or it may just be inviting them to connect with us to support our community.

Speaker 4:

When it comes to larger influencers, guys that do have gain traction but you know are still too late for programs like this. They may not even need programs like this. We actually look to engage those partners. We found a really positive response from you know younger players who are learning about and discovering programs like eSports Tower and they're like hey, i heard about this through my favorite youtuber who knows about this program and who you know actually engages with us. You know they'll come and they'll do special speaker nights right, or they'll engage in special events. Players will have the chance to play with this, their favorite famous streamer in an eSports Tower event produced live, reported and streamed online. And those are the kind of opportunities that when you put in front of a younger, you know, aspiring eSports player, i mean they just can't believe it.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, it's like playing basketball with like LeBron.

Speaker 4:

James.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, man, that's awesome man.

Speaker 4:

It's funny enough. those guys have a ton of interest in eSports too. We have, i would say, our most interested, you know, celebrities or investors. They come from the traditional sports space. I can't tell you how many kinds of partnerships we've done with NFL players, nba players, etc. Etc.

Speaker 2:

Nice. Well, that's good that the big money guys are in there and the other sports people and they were they're respecting this as a sport. They're not just thinking, oh, if I, you know, you got to run faster, jump, in order to be in a sport. No, that's not the case like. This is a sport. This is more inclusionary than almost every sport out there and it's it's evolving and it's going to be, it's going to be huge. I mean, i believe in it.

Speaker 2:

Everybody I've talked to that's in the industry, or any of the young people that I talked to, are 100% into this. I mean, i think I heard a stat the other day that one third of all Gen Z people or one quarter maybe want to be influencers, online influencers, and I think the bar is actually higher for that. I think it's a lot harder because most platforms are already established and it's you know. To try to be a YouTube star now, when YouTube's algorithm prioritizes aged channels, is going to be really difficult.

Speaker 2:

But if you are, you know, every kid grew up playing video games if you just focus your attention on that, possibly you could join something like what you have here and be trained to be a better gamer, and that's a skill that you can constantly evolve. Like your knees go bad, you can still play video games, you know, i mean I was playing God of War and I was trying to kill that Valkyrie at the end the new one and I got a. I got pretty bad cows on my thumb so I had to like I was like this thumb just doesn't look like the other thumb so I'm gonna stop playing for a while. So those kind of injuries happen. But it's not like you're blowing out your knee and you ruin your career. I mean, this is something where you can continue to evolve as a gamer and get better and better over time.

Speaker 3:

Well, the thing the difference between the difference between this and social media influencers are is that this is the rubber meets the road here.

Speaker 3:

You're either good at the game or you're not. You're not like making up some bullshit thing, dance or whatever on TikTok or doing whatever Like you may be somewhat interesting and people will follow you, but you do like you say, if the algorithms hold you down and this, you actually are winning the tournament or you're losing the tournament or your failure. You're getting a bunch of top 10 finishes and people are going to start following you because you actually have shown that you know what you're doing and you're very good. It's just going to be just like anything else in life where people have been successful and there's proof and there's been tested, it's been shown, it's been proven worthy, people will follow it. I think it'll be much easier to be not that it's easy, but I think it's much easier to be an influencer when you're good at something that's been tested, as opposed to competing with a bunch of people that just look pretty and have no skills whatsoever.

Speaker 4:

I think you bring up an interesting point on the influencer. Part of this, and it really the basis of the foundation for me, is communication. If you look at who the most successful influencers are and we look at the most successful platforms. Adam, you were completely correct, it's age directed channels and that's not by coincidence, because usually my mindset is going to be very much in the same mindset of somebody else my age, i'm going to be looking for a lot of the same information. We all come from different experiences and backgrounds and at different times. We do need different things, but the rise of influencers is really the rise of the best communicators in society. Those people are able to synthesize information and serve it back to masses of people where those people find it useful and interesting.

Speaker 4:

I think you see a lot of younger people see influencer as an opportunity to get famous, get popular, do what they love, but they're not realizing that the core functionality of being an influencer is synthesizing and communicating to people what they're searching for, what they want to see, what they're interested in. A lot of people just think if I get on there and play video games, they'll get a following and that's it. I'm ninja. That is not. It.

Speaker 4:

The reason those people get popular is because they're sharing information, they're educating people, they're teaching them and showing them how to do things. They're covering things that they're interested in, and that's what eSports Tower seeks to do. It seeks to create a community that's interesting for people and provides them the things that they're looking for. We want to produce content that is interesting to people, that grows a community that helps to educate parents on what their students and kids are doing and why they might want to be interested in how they could support these kinds of things. All across the board. We see the influencer market as a driving factor for our success, because we want to be an influencing organization.

Speaker 2:

It totally makes sense. Plus, you could tap into the influencers that are out there in other areas. You know Twitch influencers, people like that that you can kind of get with and pay them to push your message out there if they wanted to. You're in a very tight niche right now and it is at the beginning stages. There's going to be winners. there's going to be losers, based on what I see here and the awesomeness of your website. like whoever did this website, they did a pretty good job on this thing. Yeah, man, i appreciate you being on the show. It's freaking awesome. How do people reach out to you? They can go to esportstowercom, obviously check that out, possibly sign up. It looks like you've got a Discord there. How else do people connect with you? Is there LinkedIn or how would you like people to reach out?

Speaker 4:

Yeah, i would say anybody who's interested in finding me online LinkedIn, slash Mcentala on Instagram as Matt underscore Centala all A's, and please feel free to email me, matthew at esportstowercom, and you know I'll get back to you as soon as I can. I love connecting with people on any front of what they're interested in. Any of the things that I'm doing are. If you want to connect with me on the capital side of things and in the private markets, you can reach me at Matt Mcentala at driftwoodcapitalcom as well.

Speaker 2:

Awesome man.

Speaker 4:

Awesome, i look forward to it.

Speaker 2:

All right. Well, thanks for being on the show. So much for having me on the show.

Speaker 4:

All right, thank you so much. It was a pleasure, kyle Adam, have a great weekend.

Speaker 2:

Thanks for joining us on this week's episode of Side Hustle City. Well, you've heard from our guests, now let's hear from you. Join our community on Facebook, side Hustle City. It's a group where people share ideas, share their inspirational stories and motivate each other to be successful and turn their side hustle into their main hustle. We'll see you there and we'll see you next week on the show. Thank you.

(Cont.) S4 - Ep25 - Mastering the Game: Exploring the World of eSports with Matthew Santalla and eSports Tower
(Cont.) S4 - Ep25 - Mastering the Game: Exploring the World of eSports with Matthew Santalla and eSports Tower