Amir Obralić, Marketing Manager at NSoft, explains how the company has achieved vertical growth and why recruitment is all about finding people with ‘attitude.’
[dropcap]Y[/dropcap]ou make the distinction between concluding a business deal and nurturing a partnership – can you explain how you approach this?
I think it’s very easy to have a positive relationship with clients when everything is going well. However, when the focus moves from being just a straightforward business transaction you need to do more. From our perspective, it’s about being helpful, understanding the pressures the client is under and going the extra distance on their behalf. We encourage our people to get to know their counterparts in the business, to meet with them socially, to go out for dinner and generally interact in a social environment. You can’t forge a relationship by email or Skype, it can only be done face to face and you can’t measure a relationship just in terms of money.
You provide solutions for gaming/betting, virtual, sportsbook and lotteries. Where do you see the growth?
So far the revenue engine has been our Virtual Games, in particular Lucky 6, which is our most successful product too date. The Sportsbook, which is backed by Betradar, is also very strong and that’s both pre-match and live betting. On live betting we offer 18 different sports and 40 in pre-match. It’s a strong and growing part of the NSoft portfolio and we expect to see Sportsbook becoming the most important part of our growth on all delivery channels, especially web.
What’s the most exciting project or product that you are working on currently?
Our company structure is based on a matrix where verticals are in charge of development of the products – Games vertical, Sportsbook vertical and Platform vertical. Last summer we added a new vertical which we termed V4. Essentially, V4 refers to products which owe their inspiration to members of the NSoft team. Employees create their own internal teams and submit games ideas. If the games have merit we finance their development some of which are being shown from our stand at ICE. The team responsible receives a financial reward if the games are successful and make money. V4 is tremendously popular with the team who see the opportunity to contribute to the business and share in its success and the Company also benefits from more diverse product portfolio which is not ‘restricted by standard vertical boundaries’ and can be expanded to casino or slot games, social betting, DFS or eSports.
Where do you see the challenges and opportunities for 2017?
We see ICE as a big opportunity. If I tell you that on the basis of the business that we wrote at ICE 2016 we employed a further 100 team members you can appreciate the scale of the opportunity. We expect a lot from ICE. Otherwise, I think the opportunities are also connected with the challenges. Markets open, markets are regulated and markets can close due to the introduction of unrealistic tax regimes. It’s a very dynamic industry and unfortunately regulation cannot keep pace with technology. As such, regulation is often old fashioned and more in keeping with a retail environment and not adjusted for the digital age.
In 8 years the company has grown from 2 to 190 employees – how do you explain such meteoric growth?
I believe the most important element is the culture that we have inside the business. We employ bright minds who embrace change and defy conventional thinking. I like to describe us as being ‘positively different’ which helps enormously when you are growing a young, energetic business.
Your people are obviously pivotal to the success story. Do you actively look for what you describe as ‘attitude?’
Attitude is hard to define in a few words. It’s an intuition as much as anything else. We’ve all met people who, for whatever reason, stand out from the crowd. We will only recruit people who accept and embrace our culture. Our business is like an extended family and we look for individuals who are positive, ambitious and willing to learn. Of course they have to have the right aptitude and we invite them to spend some time getting to know their potential work colleagues, perhaps over a coffee or a beer. It’s quite an holistic process and I would say it works well.
In terms of your corporate outlook and philosophy is there a company you model yourselves on and can you explain the special perks that employees enjoy?
We do a lot of things based on trial and error and we are not afraid of making mistakes to get where we want to be. We do not have a role model because you can’t microwave a culture – you have to live and breathe it. We have a whole range of initiatives to help create that special feeling, that X-factor which makes NSoft a special environment. In terms of perks, in the New Year we selected four people at random and paid for them to have a mini break in Dubai. We have film clubs, the most recent was Reservoir of Dogs – classic Tarantino. We have what we call a ‘Take It’ shelf, which is full of technical gadgets which team members can borrow. Two years ago we formed an umbrella organisation, SPARK, business park, which includes a school at which young people can learn a vocational skill, whether it’s design or marketing or business for start-ups. NSoft is now part of SPARK together with Stark, a company producing betting terminals, Eynio which is all about smart homes, Sync – distributor of technical gadgets just to name a few, together with many startups that will hopefully grow into successful companies. Our philosophy is if you engage with people they will engage with you – simple, but effective.
Some industry observers believe the gaming industry suffers from a ‘reputational’ problem: what do you think can be done about it?
The operators in Bosnia organised a conference in January in order to demonstrate to politicians and regulators what the industry was about and how punitive taxation would simply close it down overnight. It was the first event of its type and it was a good move. I think it’s important to be prepared to open your doors as a business and as an industry to decision makers so they can see the high standards that we operate to. We set out to defy the conventional way of running a commercial organisation and if our experience can help we are always proud to showcase our outlook and philosophy.