Exclusive: Damian Xuereb talks Strive Gaming; Max Meltzer to become company CEO

By Tim Poole

Strive Gaming President Damian Xuereb has given his first interview since leaving sports betting supplier Kambi, speaking exclusively to Gambling Insider about the new brand on the block. 

Strive is a player account management system that will target the North American market, having already received investment from operator Betsson AB

Max Meltzer, who also last week announced he will be leaving Kambi, will take over as Strive Gaming CEO later this year once his Kambi tenure ends.

See below for Xuereb’s insight into what Strive Gaming aims to achieve, the early milestones it is targeting and the ethos behind the organisation.   

Tell us about Strive Gaming. 

Strive is an iGaming technology provider that’s got a really exciting future ahead of itself. We’re about to launch it in the US market; we are an iGaming platform purely built around North American requirements. We are a full enterprise proprietary player account management system. We are the first in the market that has been purely built to satisfy the modern, multi-state requirements of North American operators. We deliver technical performance at scale, through our modern future-proof solution. 

How did the name of the company materialise? 

Having a lot of experience working with leading operators in the US and really trying to understand the challenges they face, operators are always striving to give the best-quality service to their customers. Operators are always striving to maintain a profitable P&L and capture market share. We very much see the solution of Strive and the technology we’re bringing to market as exactly the right medium and right channel to enable that. 

We understand at Strive the challenges operators have, and we have a technology set and the right type of platform to enable the operator to meet these challenges. Striving to be the best is also a corporate philosophy we try to bring in when we hire, and striving to be the best form of yourself. That’s what we’re aiming for, for our employees and our end customers as well. 

How will you be splitting the duties between your leadership team? 

Currently, I’m President and Chief Commercial Officer of Strive. Max Meltzer will be CEO after he leaves Kambi this summer. Between us, we’ll build out the business, take US offices and have a 24/7 client success-facing team that’s going to be within North American markets. Our business philosophy, and really the strategy here, is about being agile. Really understanding what customers need from us and building the business around their requirements. 

With such stiff competition within the US, how does Strive Gaming aim to stand out – will you be leveraging your industry contacts as a particular strength? 

Strive is coming to the market with something unique. Strive has no ambitions to be a B2C brand or have other verticals. We want to be and continue to be the leading player account management system purely built to solve challenges in the North American market. What makes us different? We bring modern, modular technology. Our technology has been purely built around challenges operators face in the market. We bring a real value driver to the market and innovation that has been missing from the player account management space for a number of years. 

We bring our Strive Infinity engine, which is the tool that will enable operators to manage customers better, meet state-by-state requirements and deliver speed to market. It also enables us to drive operator efficiency, automation of workflows, KYC, as well as integrating into third parties. So we feel we have a real value driver, something that’s not in the market at the moment and something that’ll be really disruptive in this space. If you were to go out into the marketplace and speak to operators working with our competitors in this space – for player platforms – you won’t see that much positive response as to how they’re feeling about working with those platforms.  

It’s our experience, more than our contacts, which define what we’ve been able to do with Strive and what we think we can achieve. We understand from our experience why those operators have those issues and those player platforms don’t work. They don’t work, in particular, for reasons such as huge technology debt. They haven’t got the ability to be flexible; they’re also based on legacy technology that’s focused on social casino and then had to be adapted. Some of these platforms cannot deal with the server-based regulations of the US very well. We’ve come into the market mainly with the strength of our product. 

On the B2C point, do you have any thoughts on operators that have recently opened up their own game studios? 

Our strategy here is about being the specialist; the specialist player account management system, the specialist solution to solve problems. We work on our business model as a revenue share. So we want to make sure our operators are making money – we don’t want to dilute our focus or look at other revenue potentials that aren’t in our sweet spot. Our sweet spot is all around player account management in the US market. This is where we’ll add value and be the clear differentiator for operators. In some ways, all operators need to find something that makes them stand out on a unique basis. Every operator is looking for some sort of ability to communicate that to their shareholders. 

Even with this emergence of game studios, that’s not going to be an automatic replacement for any other B2B game studios; it’s to supplement, I imagine. And this foray into people controlling elements of their own stack is a good thing. But what they probably don’t want to be doing is bringing everything in-house. That’s where identifying the right partners and a best-of-breed approach, and identifying what elements you need to take in-house, is important. There are some outsourced partners who you’d sign up with and you wouldn’t get any support on the roadmap, and very limited control of your own destiny. That’s where there is definitely room for owning part of your stack and choosing the right outsourced partners, which is where Strive fits in. 

What are the initial hurdles you have to overcome to make your name in the market? 

I would phrase it more as what is our first milestone. And that is launching with our first operator later this year, which we look forward to sharing details on at a later date. Also really scaling the team up; we are an American-centric business; we will have our customer client team serving our US partners, in the US. It’s really around milestones; we’ve done a lot of preparation, the technology’s been built over the last couple of years, so it’s a very considered approach. It’s around proving our presence, proving ourselves to the market and scaling up from there. 

Other milestones are expanding the leadership team and setting up development and operational offices in locations in the US and Canada, so that we can provide a 24/7 service. We expect to have one of the most talented development teams within the space. We want the market to understand that our approach to sportsbooks and content is about being agnostic. It’s about what the operators want and when they want it. Being independent is key to ensuring you meet requirements. This platform will be integrated with Kambi and other sportsbooks, so it’s very clear you can pick and choose your content within our platform.

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