Exclusive: Hitmarker to raise £200k from fans to expand into new markets
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Hitmarker aim to raise £200,000 from fans to expand into new markets

Published: 27/Nov/2020 12:59

by Adam Fitch

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Gaming and esports jobs platform Hitmarker are planning to launch their second crowdfunding campaign to expand into new locations.

Aiming to raise at least £200,000 in exchange for 4% equity, the UK-based company will use the money raised to set up localized platforms for markets in Asia, Europe, and Latin America.

Specifically, they will hire 10 more staff members over the next two years to accommodate jobs in esports hot spots such as Brazil, China, Japan, and Spain. They’re also looking to create the “first truly global professional network for gamers.”

This upcoming funding values Hitmarker at £4.8m, well over double the £1.9m figure they were valued at just a year ago. In November 2019 they raised £200,000 in their first crowdfunding initiative, achieving 250% of their £80,000 target.

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Hitmarker staff expansion
Hitmarker
They doubled their workforce following their first crowdfunding initiative.

Raising the stakes

“Our previous campaign enabled us to almost immediately double our headcount from five full-time staff to 10, which in turn allowed us to transition from just covering esports to covering the entire video game industry as well in March,” Hitmarker’s managing director Rich Huggan told Dexerto. “We’ve since been able to increase the volume of live opportunities on Hitmarker by over 1,000%, from around 1,200 esports jobs last November to over 12,000 esports and video game jobs now.”

After drastically increasing the number of jobs they compile — which, usefully, further consolidates the gaming and esports jobs market — they’re seeking additional capital to keep their growth going. There are plenty of localized markets that could be better served and Hitmarker are looking to tap into those going into 2021 and beyond.

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“This next raise is intended to help us broaden our coverage even further by beginning to create the first truly global professional network for the esports and video game industry,” he said. “In the coming weeks and months, we’re going to hire at least a further five full-time staff so that we can roll out fully localized hiring platforms for Brazil, Spain, Japan, and China. The feature set of our platform is going to increase dramatically in 2021, too.”

While their new goal of £200,000 is on par with the amount they raised this time last year, there’s a potential to raise over twice the amount of the baseline figure once again. With more users than ever and a growing valuation, Hitmarker are feeling bullish about their chances with this next round of investment.

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“Having hit our £200,000 upper limit last November, we felt it was a fair minimum target for this raise,” said Huggan. “In reality, we’ll be disappointed if we don’t raise at least twice that amount this time around. Crowdcube always told us that the first raise is the most difficult, and we don’t think last year could have gone much better than it did. We’ve now got an existing network of 380 engaged investors to lean on, and we learned a lot from last year’s campaign.”

Forgoing esports tradition

In esports, it’s become the norm to raise investment from venture capitalists with numbers in the millions becoming commonplace. With Hitmarker’s crowdfunding efforts, as well as Fnatic’s current ongoing fan-funded efforts, smaller companies are being shown that there are other paths to go down when seeking funding. Not only that but, as Huggan explained, he’s consciously avoiding venture capital.

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“I’ve yet to meet a VC that I’d want anywhere near Hitmarker and I’ve heard too many horror stories from companies both inside and outside of esports who’ve gone down that road and regretted it later,” he said. “Maybe I’ve just met the wrong ones, but we’ve never regretted our decision to crowdfund for a minute and we’ve gained some tremendous investors in the process. A number of them have been invaluable to the business this year.”

In theory, when esports and gaming grow so do Hitmarker. With more companies spawning as too do career opportunities, especially with more investment flooding into these industries. Hitmarker have a clear path in mind to capitalize on such growth, though they’re cognizant of the fact that they’re not yet serving every geographical market as well as they could be doing. This crowdfunding effort will help them to remedy that.

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Vaggas BR Hitmarker
Hitmarker
Hitmarker partnered with Brazilian esports jobs platform in March 2020 to compile Portuguese and Spanish language jobs.

“The future is Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese versions of the Hitmarker platform, all complete with dedicated customer service and the same noise-free, hand-curated feed our English-speaking users benefit from,” said Huggan. “The future is the first truly global professional network dedicated to the esports and video game industry. Hopefully, the future is also a very decent return for ourselves and all of our investors.”

As with many startups, monetization is on the mind. It’s all fine and dandy being able to continuously raise money when the well starts to dry, but actual revenue streams are needed to be a sustainable company.

“We’re on track for 100% annual growth in revenue in 2020,” he said. “We’ve seen a significant uptick in the number of companies hiring directly through Hitmarker and promoting their listings on the platform, while we’ve also added data sales to our income streams this year too. Our partnerships with recruitment specialists RGF Executive Search, New Level Recruiting, and the Executives in Sport Group should start bearing fruit in early 2021.”

Hitmarker are the de facto platform when it comes to finding a new job in gaming and esports, and it doesn’t seem like they’re resting on their laurels. While the jury is out as to whether their second round of raising money from gamers and esports fans will once again eclipse their expectations, they’ve helped thousands of people find opportunities and they may just fancy repaying the favor.