How Content Creators Have Gained the Power in Esports with AFK Creators CEO Matt Woods
We are talking to them and co-founder of JFK creators Matt Woods better known as Mazzios Maddio's welcome to the show. Thanks for having me met super excited and sad but also honored to be one of the last guests. It has been quite a ride quite a ride for sure and I am so happy to have you on the show because we're going to be talking about one of the big stories in Esports, which is this transition from E Sports organizations into these hubs of digital influence the rise of the gaming influencer and really so much that's kind of central to what Esports is right now. But first you need to know about a creators as a streamer and YouTube content creator Matthew has been in and around Esports four years in 2019. He co-founded AFK creators a talent management and influencer marketing agency. They have players like Ellen energies Rogue five up the Among Us God average Jonas in addition to another 1,500 or so influencers. So it's big founded educate creators has run major campaigns from France like manscaped and nordvpn off Brands. JFK creams runs tournaments helps coordinate brand Partnerships with e Sports properties and then just campaigns for Esports players and content creators AFK takes on the role of agent finds independent brand deals and helps them build their own person. No brands on the show going to be talking about AFK, of course, but really expanding this conversation wider that ongoing push of a sports organizations into hubs of digital influence that rise to the gaming impulse or why they're unique in the world foods are marketing and how companies like JFK help navigate twitch and YouTube for their clients. So Mario's first take us behind the Inception of the AFK brand. What did you see missing as a twitch streamer and consecrated that you wanted to create for others? Yes I back in this is 2018 is when I know life League of Legends and and became somewhat good at the game, but more good at the craziest champion in the game, which is which is Ivan most popularized by by Tyler one in the last couple of years, but entering into that space the content world trying to make educational content and playing with with high low players at the time it quickly became apparent to me that there was really a lack of birth. Trust and transparency and also knowledge that X on the part of content creators or influences. If you want to call them that which ultimately with my friends. I never really had Grand Ambitions to to want to become a celebrity status at all. But why did really want to do is help my friends not get you know screwed over by by opportunity to put it bluntly. And so that's kind of how I entered into the space helping many people in League of Legends and overtime that expanded to work with content creators streamers Pro players offer a wide variety of games and not just in my my homeland of the UK, but very quickly through word-of-mouth working with creators around the world and which is something quite unique about them because since day one we've had that very much Global diverse mindset about ourselves and really what what then became a parent working with creators and helping them, you know respond to them. This inquiries and negotiate that deals and deliverables with with Brands was equally especially in the Esports startup world, but more generally for for all all opportunities is that bronze themselves wouldn't necessarily know how to approach influences and how to to structure deals and coming from this background of marketing and growth in my full-time job. I was ready able to help them and that really became a passion because I had a passion for Esports at a passion for startups and I could see great teams and great products who really wanted to grow their user base wage. I'm work with influencers which many of them followed themselves and and we're big fans of just didn't know how to do it in the best way. So that's how F came came came to be and it's been a wild to ride grown from myself working out of a a bedroom to being Thirty people today with people based around the world. We have over 150 signed X Club. It influences and pro players and it's it's been a wild ride, but it's great to be able to to help others us that's really the main the main goal from the outset. Absolutely and it's been a very interesting year for absolutely everybody and AFK was created about a month before actually launched this podcast assuming January 2019, which I believe I saw is the correct launch day for AFK. That's about a year. It's a we've had a weird spot here because we basically she said one year of the podcast or your company in Cove at times and one year outside of it. Can you compare and contrast how those two years sort of ran because it's definitely been an interesting switch up even though there's been a lot that stayed the same the conversations have changed and the way brands of approach to space have definitely changed as well. So could you contrast sort of that first year of creation and then how it changed as we get past this one year mark of covid-19 becoming a global disease which happened in March of 2020. Yeah, it's really I think it's changing in many ways like for our company. We we had an office that shot down but we were fortunate enough that we always had people working remotely. I think the bulb the day-to-day of our our role other than having to accept that every communication is limited hasn't really changed so much one of the biggest thing that has changed and I think has really changed it took bronze is the inability to do things physically. So obviously, you know, there's no twitchcon anymore. There's no other industry events. There's no way to touch and things if I was a brand to educate myself on the space how best to enter so what I have noticed is that being removed has restricted certain opportunity juice. Is especially if I was a non-endemic brand thinking how do I enter into the space certain traditional elements which they could relate to and understand have been completely removed and it also has inhibited. I think the network of smaller influences. That's better that were kind of quite Reliant upon going to these physical events and networking building Rapport relationships with Brands face-to-face. So that's one thing I've definitely noticed but we're definitely very fortunate in the privileged position to be a company that unfortunately has kind of not I don't want to say benefits it but prospered under under covid-19 H Ur of of the work we do can be done remote everything's online. The dish gaming space has exploded for obvious reasons. And so, you know, there's just been more opportunities and there's been more exciting opportunities to work with brands that want to experiment dog. That be you know, a fast food delivery company or even an energy drink company that previously wasn't in the space.