This week’s iGaming Talks welcomes Endorphina’s CEO, Jan Urbanec. He talks about his time at Endorphina, the challenges the company has faced over the years, and how they kept expanding across various markets to get to their leading position in the industry.
TheGamblest: Jan, you’ve been with Endorphina from the early stages, what challenges have you faced during the development of the company since it launched in 2012?
Jan: When I joined the company, we were in the early stages of first customer acquisition. The product was there. The games represented the applied knowledge and experience available to the team of developers and designers. But no players to play the games, yet.
As a young game provider, we had to gain the trust of the players by first gaining the trust of our B2B partners. It was a challenge, because at that time a different slot studio was in the middle of a money laundering scandal and operator willingness to take new content was close to zero.
Now when I look back, this was a serious challenge. But thanks to the enthusiasm of the team and the positive vibes of fresh beginnings, we did not notice what a hard obstacle we managed to overcome.
TG: How do you keep your brand image and stay relevant in a market that is continuously changing with new members entering the field?
Jan: Consistency. We behave consistently in the business dealings, negotiations, game delivery, tech solutions. When we deal with our partners and players – we deal with money. There is no room to be extravagant and take stupid risks.
However we behave very unexpectedly when promoting our company on the expos. Here our only jeopardy is that it may affect our company image. But after several years of this aggressive B2B marketing strategy, we found a balance.
We know how to be entertaining to the industry during the events. We understand these are social gatherings and nobody wants to walk around grey stands with employees that do not smile.
So at the end of the day, we are consistently surprising our partners.
TG: What is your strategy when it comes to iGaming industry trends? Do you jump on the bandwagon of “innovative solutions” as soon as they are introduced?
Jan: As mentioned before, we value consistency. This goes hand in hand with predictability. Our customers know what to expect from us and so do our players.
We do not decide lightly to change the course of our product.
With that being said, we always carefully analyze new trends the moment they appear.
Since the players are the ones that vote with their wallet.
Our branding and top performing games reflect this knowledge.
At the same time we have a responsibility to the casino operators.
Lets say there is a new trend – create games with the highest possible multiplier 100 000x.
Who want these games? Probably players do. Do the operators want them? Probably they do not. Now you have a dilemma.
Each provider needs to choose what is their identity. We made our choice some time ago and we stick with it.
TG: What are your current best-selling games/products?
Jan: The answer varies from market to market. But thankfully there are some titles that are consistent ( ) across the whole world.
Our annual series of “Hit Slot” is really now a guaranteed performance booster. Operators now impatiently await February and ask for the new release.
One of our first series “Lucky Streak” was an industry first of graphically revamping the classic slot. The players rewarded us by shooting the game to the top of the operators charts.
“Joker Stoker” is also one of the fun one classics, that shines in different markets.
Also there is a big group of games that perform on the top, only on specific markets. There we use the players national or ethnic identity as a theme. We have to be very careful and respectful when researching and executing these, so we display tastefully each culture.
TG: You’ve been actively extending into new markets; most recently entering Spain and Argentina. Do players’ preferences vary across GEOs? How do you get ready to ensure that everything is tailored to the particular audience?
Jan: The good and at the same time the bad news are, that for each market there are technical regulations that dictate the way the games need to be set up.
The actual way how the games are played is impacted by the regulation. Because of that we must change existing games and release new versions of the games.
Also there is a balance regarding the brand recognition. We cannot go and change the top performing games from the ground up, just to please a local audience.
We must stand behind our design choices and show the players the magic of our games.
Instead of going to a market and blindly making copies of the best performing themes in a specific market.
TG: What makes a successful partnership? What are some important factors you consider when choosing your partners?
Jan: We are very tolerant and indiscriminatory when talking to new partners. I am a strong believer that everyone deserves a chance to make a good first impression, and perhaps to remedy a mediocre one with a second chance.
With that being said, we cannot afford to close deals with bad actors or completely inexperienced companies. We are not here to hold the customer hand.
They need to know what they want and how to run their business.
At this stage of Endorphina, we are very capable of identifying the level of partners during the initial stages of the negotiations and the first talks.
The best partnerships are the ones, where both partners are at a similar level when signing a deal, and then they grow together and achieve success on a similar timeline.
This is a foundation of a great partnership.
TG: As a CEO, maintaining the same pace and drive might become challenging sometimes. Where do you get the motivation to keep developing yourself and be a driving force for your team?
Jan: The best motivation is recognizing your failures and be very critical of yourself. Punish yourself in some small or big way depending on the level of the failure.
You don’t have to communicate this openly to the people around you, they will notice.
Also, a good approach to life is, when an issue or a problem arrives – attack it.
Do not give the issue power. Make the issue your prey.
TG: Does managing such a big company leave time for your personal life and hobbies? How do you manage the work/life balance?
Jan: Here in Czechia, there is a long tradition of businessman pushing for strong results, no life, maximum work hours – only to realize later in life that they need to switch their priorities.
So you will see a lot of young managers having 18-hour workdays running around like crazy.
And then a group of guys in their 40s, that understand they want to add value to their family, relationships, and friends. And the only way to do that is to devote time to them.
I believe in mental hygiene and in individual choice. If a person feels that this is the time to go full workaholic mode – so be it.
If they feel it’s time to wind down and pay attention to other parts of their life, then that is the right choice for them.
Stay tuned for our upcoming interviews to keep learning from top industry professionals!