How I Started an
E-Sports Business For Schools
Hi! Who are you and what business did you start?
Heya! I hope you are well! My name is Shiv Bhagnari and I am the Founder and CEO of E-Sports Schools. I’m 16 and I currently study at Dubai English Speaking College which is located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The objective of the business is to get E-Sports within schools as a competitive sport, give the professionalism within the E-Sports environment, much like you would find at major leagues and educate individuals about E-Sports and all the different aspects of E-Sports.
What is your personal story and how did you come up with the idea?
Video Games have always been a personal interest for me. Ever since my parents got me a Playstation 3 I’ve been hooked and have sunk countless hours into the rich and detailed worlds that developers have created.
I always wanted to go into gaming either being a professional gamer or being a content creator in the form of a YouTuber or a streamer. However, I was never any good at video games at the time to compete at a professional level nor did I have the proper peripherals or motivation to start a YouTube channel or take up streaming. I always kept it a casual hobby and just casually played it with friends.
Then in 2017/2018 while I was working as a student librarian in my school’s library, I spotted this individual named Yao who was proposing for an E-Sports Team in my school. I asked him more about how he would plan to execute the plans to make it happen. I was hooked immediately enlisting two of my friends to help me make an E-Sports Team within my school.
Our plan at the time was to make an E-Sports team at my school and have all the other schools follow-through, making their own teams. However, after about a year at working with DESC E-Sports I quickly realized there was no one leading it. Without waiting around, I decided to make it myself. So far it’s been pretty successful!
This was helped with my knowledge as I was studying Business GCSE at the time. I was listening to different practical aspects of business which helped me to construct the business further.
What challenges did you face when creating your product/service?
There were a lot of struggles when I first started the business. Finances were hard to put in, due to being a 15 year old at the time with limited pocket money and parents who (at the time) didn’t understand what E-Sports was.
Competition wise, there were other E-Sports organizations in Dubai which were sponsored by all the major gaming companies. The only links I had to them were email addresses provided on their social media. At the time, I didn’t know what LinkedIn was so I had no connections to schools other than my own.
I was also struggling with my mental health at the time. Being severely depressed and overworking myself to mitigate my emotions, it wasn’t until I found my amazing girlfriend that I slowly started to recover. I stopped overworking myself and realized that I needed regular breaks to take care of my mental health.
Who is your target market?
Individuals who are dedicated to gaming but can also have fun at the same time. My target market is Schools and students aged 10-21. We focus on this audience which makes us unique compared to all other E-Sports organizations elsewhere.
How do you market your business and which approaches have been the most successful?
It seems obvious but whenever I get the most response or comments about it, I realize that it’s a good success. We market our business for the students. We explain to companies that their product can be the product for the students.
Since you launched, what has worked in not only attracting but retaining customers?
This has never been done on this scale before! Retaining the students is mainly down to my close personal connection with every single member of the Discord. The motivation and the passion from myself and the game admins makes the students, teachers and everyone involved very passionate about the whole project.
Being a part of the whole movement before it starts exploding is like investing in Bitcoin before the surge. You want to be there and you know it’s going to be good!
What kind of culture exists in your company, and how did you establish it?
I’m the only main employee but I do have admins in my Discord server who help me a lot. Due to the current pandemic, admins and myself are in a pretty comfortable working environments.
I get people on the same beat by treating them like my friends. While we are working, it’s good to ask them how they are or how their day was…even play a few games! I generally update them on all the things I do and routinely ask if they have any questions for me.
We build our team via playing games together which requires communication and cooperation. We just essentially do things that we enjoy together.
What software, services or tools do you use within your business?
For general communication with all our students we use Discord and Steam because it’s a very easy chat service to use. You can create multiple channels and kep it organised.
What are the most important lessons have you learned on your business journey?
I’ve learned that you should stop once in a while and walk away if it damages you physically or mentally.
I was preparing for an event with so much ambition however, the event didn’t go through and we ultimately didn’t attend. I had worked so hard to the point of damaging my mental health and was prepared to show up just to numb the emotions.
Luckily I realized that I shouldn’t. Not wanting to lose the passion for the project, I walked away and came back refreshed. Six months later we had our first event, and that’s what kicked off all the success
I was and still am very passionate about this project and actively working to make it the best it can be.
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
My favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur is that you are the first, and that in itself means a lot because you can gain a lot of success and create the path for innovation which can ultimately improve the world.
You can be your own boss and don’t have to follow a set schedule set by a higher power in the corporate ladder. You make your own decisions, carve your own path to success.
What is your LEAST favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
At the time of writing this interview I’m 16 and still in education. My lack of experience in the ‘real world’, my age often deteriorates some individuals which often puts me down. However, I often bounce back with more success and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future!
What books, podcasts or other resources have inspired and influenced your business journey?
I remember two instances of this. I remember being on YouTube and seeing a title of a 16 year old with a $300M buy out offer being interviewed on the news, I just remember thinking that I’d like to be like that one day. Interviewed on the news, independent and majorly successful.
The second instance of this would be seeing the Emmy awards when one of the actors from Stranger Things had won an Emmy at such a young age. I remember just wanting to be that successful and have that mass amount of recognition for something I built from the ground up.
These have motivated me so that one day I can achieve the same success as they have.
Where do you see your business 2-3 years from now?
I see my business growing exponentially within 2-3 years from now. I would hope to have many employees and much larger revenue, with big sponsors and huge stadium seller tournaments!
I would like to have a dedicated E-Sports place in Dubai where we can conduct major E-Sports tournaments and hope to achieve the level of professionalism that the big leagues have and surpass them tenfold!