SBC business correspondent Mark McGuinness caught up with businessman and industry entrepreneur Chris North to chat about his latest venture, GamCrowd which looks to disrupt the traditional way start-ups and existing companies seek funding and investment in the gambling sector.
GamCrowd is a specialist igaming crowd funding platform, GamCrowd aims to bring better funding, industry knowledge, to entrepreneurs and investors using crowd sourcing techniques
SBC: Chris great to meet-up with you. Can you tell us why you decided to launch GamCrowd and how the current funding / investment models are broken in your opinion?
Chris: After I sold the Fox Poker Club I spent some time looking at start-ups and innovation and I came to a couple of conclusions. Banks and VCs just aren’t lending to start ups in the Gambling industry and crowdfunding and crowdsourcing are taking off in a big way. The situation with funding is dire. Banks are loathed to even open an account for a gambling business let alone lend it money, and as the costs of starting a business have fallen and lean start up principles take hold VCs are moving to much later stage deals. They want businesses with a trading history and the deal has to be a certain size to justify their costs. This has left a big gap which I felt crowd funding could fill.
SBC: GamCrowd due to its business offerings has had to seek FCA authorization. Was that a particularly difficult process given the business is the first of its kind in the gambling crowdsourcing and funding vertical?
Chris: In our industry we are used to being regulated so I haven’t found it too difficult, probably the biggest change is getting used to having compliance checked with Resolution Compliance Ltd, of which GamCrowd is an appointed representative. Every communication that goes out to ensure it complies with the financial promotion regulations. Regarding other similar businesses, I think we have made a number of firsts; Hybrid crowd sourcing and crowd funding business, gambling industry specific crowd funding and also gambling specific crowd sourcing.
SBCnews: What sort of deal flow, companies, particular regions or product verticals are you hoping shall be attracted to join and engage with the GamCrowd platform? How are you going to target those existing entrants or new start-ups?
Chris: We want to be global. Our crowdsourcing will be global from launch but our crowdfunding will take time to get regulated in countries like the US. We are keen to see any type of gambling business and the level of creativity of entrepreneurs is such that I think we will see a lot of ideas we have never considered or categorised. I think we will get established companies using the crowd sourcing and we have already had interest from some of the multinationals, whilst the crowd sourcing is aimed at start-ups and early stage businesses.
SBC: As a successful businessman and industry entrepreneur, who else shall be helping you in the management team as the GamCrowd Business?
Chris: I am hoping to announce a Finance Director and a Chairman soon; we are also busy recruiting the GamCrowd committee who will help us assess the start-ups. We already have seven people signed up for our GamCrowd committee and I hope to announce the names when we start trading in the spring.
Chris North CEO & Founder – GamCrowd