Meet Startup @TW

In Taiwan, level up for popular but embattled e-gaming

Competitive video gaming has gone from a barely understood niche industry to a sector that vies for attention with regular professional sports.

Taiwanese entrepreneur Santiago Huang saw that trend in 2013 when he founded 4Gamers after observing the rise of Twitch, a streaming platform for matches.

Huang took a shine to electronic sports while growing up in Argentina. In 2004, he moved back to Taiwan, where he kept playing.

He eventually joined FHM Magazine's digital marketing department. There he learned about marketing and branding, for online as well as offline.

The shift to entrepreneurship started in 2012 when Huang founded 4i Digital Publishing System with support from the magazine.

In 2014 he left 4i looking for another challenge. He had realized that in Taiwan, eSport players are seldom treated as well traditional athletes. They face a stereotype that getting good at their game cannot build a career, just provide entertainment.

An e-sport is any game played by computer or video devices, often with multiple players. A classic example is Heroes of Warcraft.

Huang had found his passion to help other players build careers in e-sports and work as media broadcasters of live eSport games.

4Gamers' initial funding came from the founder himself as well as an angel investor who had worked in entertainment industry for a long time.

Today revenue comes from advertising and event organization.

4Gamers seeks to fill a void in content, Huang said. Services such as 5-year-old, San Francisco-based Twitch already specialize in streaming. Twitch gets 10 million visitors and 2 million streamers per day.

"What we are lacking is not online stream platforms but qualified and decent eSport content," Huang has been quoted saying.

His website posts game content, strategy and links to competitions in addition to information about players and team. The service includes organization of events.

Huang’s business took off smoothly as he had worked before in the e-gaming field and understood the ins and outs.

However, at the start it was hard to find an editor able to produce decent content and to retain employees.

He tackled the employee retention problem by teaching young employees more about the market.

Plus there's the element of thrill.

From 2014, 4Gamers has held an annual event, the WIRFORCE Lan Party. It's a non-stop party and tournament for gamers.

Last year the event attracted 20,000 players from around Asia. The 2016 event set for mid-November in Taipei expects another regional crowd as well as participation from 20 game publishing companies.