From humble beginnings, where esports was a fringe idea on the periphery of the gaming world, it now has the potential to rival traditional sports both in terms of scale and value. 

Established in 2014 by Robel Efrem, CEO, and Philip Skogsberg, CPO/ CMO, Swedish technology company, Challengermode, aims to make esports accessible for professional and non-professional gamers alike. Recognising that huge amounts of investment is being ploughed into major tournament organizers, high profile teams and game developers with almost none trickling down to the grassroots level became a clear call for this innovative Stockholm based company to create an infrastructure where anyone  can participate in esports. As such, working closely with game developers, brands and tournament organisers, Challengermode has built a platform which enables all gamers to play in competitions, tournaments and leagues across any device or console regardless of skill, level or experience. 

A leader in the ‘passion economy,’ Challengermode successfully combines the two sides of the gaming industry coin – providing opportunities for new games, brands and organisations to grow and monetise their business, whilst equipping the gaming world of professionals, amateurs and enthusiastic aficionados with a competitive gaming platform to engage, socialise, build their skills, host, play and monetise esports competitions. 

Since its launch, this fast-growing business has achieved a number of significant milestones. It now employs more than 30 staff, has recently raised over $18 million in investment, with notable investors being eWTP Innovation Fund (Alibaba’s investment arm), GP Bullhound, Telia Ventures and Swedish soccer legend, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and is continuing to build a strong partnerships ecosystem, securing an impressive array of brand partners, including FIFA, digital festival DreamHack and esports team, Fnatic. 

Founder of two companies within the last decade, three times nominee for ‘Young Entrepreneur of the Year,’ Robel Efrem, joint co-founder and CEO of Challengermode tells us about the inspirational foundation upon which he and fellow co-founder Philip Skogsberg created Challengermode, the passion economy and its future, together with detailed insight into this revolutionary start-up, its unique features and how it differs from its traditional gaming competitors. 

The combination of Philip’s expertise in product management, your personal mission to deliver the best gaming experience to all players via a platform which encourages thriving communities, as well as a shared passion for gaming, resulted in the formation of Challengermode.  Can you give us a brief overview of the background to your online gaming platform and your objectives for Challengermode? 

Challengermode was borne out of two important factors – firstly, the rise in digital technology has paved the way for individuals to connect and build relationships around their own passions, and secondly, the ability to bypass traditional barriers such as time zones or physical geographical locations. These have resulted in a thriving new economy – the passion economy – which ultimately has enabled us to fulfil our core mission. Through Challengermode we aim to deliver the best competitive gaming experience and provide an accessible platform for everyone to participate in esports. Challengermode bridges the gap between amateurs and professionals via an online infrastructure where gamers can not only compete in the national, international games and tournaments they love, but also be part of a fun and inclusive online community. 

You mentioned the term ‘passion economy,’ as being both thriving and new. Could you explain what the passion economy is and how it works?

The passion economy centres around groups of individuals who form niche communities to create and share content. Lockdown has increased the appetite for interactively engaging with others, and this model provides a method of starting a brand, business or community around a shared passion. It revolves around three main elements working collaboratively – a creator building a business around a specific passion, a digital platform which supports and grows that creator’s service and a market or community of passionate buyers who ultimately monetise the service.

This monetisation can take many forms depending on the organizer or game developer and how they choose to work with Challengermode. Most often it involves leveraging competition entry fees, subscriptions and game sales themselves to generate revenue. Currently the esports industry’s financial model is built around sponsorship and advertising revenue. Challengermode offers organizers and developers a way to monetise consumer revenue and participation by providing an all-in-one solution to organize, grow and monetize gaming communities and esports competitions

Challengermode is a platform offering structured esports action with real prize pools. How does it differentiate itself from others in a similar gaming market? 

We built our platform from the ground-up with the primary objective of delivering an infrastructure that services all sides of the esports community. Leveraging our experience in the gaming space, combined with actively soliciting actionable feedback from that community, we have been able to connect the fractured esports industry from top to bottom, enabling organisers of any size to easily and rapidly scale-up and monetize esports competitions around their games.  Couple this with player support and progression, where we have created a legitimate path for players to progress and build their skills, enabling them to transition from amateur to pro, we are both establishing a sustainable business model for the industry and a space for it to flourish.  

Congratulations on your recent funding award.  Will we see Challengermode moving into new territories and expanding its range?

Absolutely. We have huge growth ambitions and are very excited about the opportunities now available to us. In addition to global expansion, which will be focused on North America in the short term, we’re also planning to invest further in product development, creating new ways for developers to access the technology and our ecosystem of third-party organisers as well as new tools for players to engage. This kind of thriving ecosystem is what we are building through the Challengermode platform and we believe that we have the right attitude, the right vision and the right support to achieve this.Challengermode’s website really is the home of competitive gaming.