One of the best motivations for growth is achieving those goals previously considered to be ‘impossible’ according to Ivan Montk, Founder of SoftSwiss, who gave his reasons for why the gambling software developer follows a ‘think big’ philosophy.
Speaking to SBC News, Montik shared why SoftSwiss decided to make its foray into the crypto gaming space before outlining his predictions for the next five years.
SBC: Firstly, can you give us some insight into why you decided to set up SoftSwiss?
IM: SoftSwiss started with a small but strong team of people who had the technical expertise, shared the basic life values and were ready to take the risk of making business together. By 2009, I had gathered experience in management and finance and I met several people who were extremely good at programming. I knew it should be an information technology business because there’s so much place for innovation there.
So we started with projects which involved development of custom software, web sites and flash banners – small things which clients ordered. That was a good start, but our main purpose was development of our own products, and the opportunity came in 2010. That’s when our online auction software came to market and paved the way for further product development.
Then we started working on SoftSwiss online casino platform. It was a pure gamble, because all we had was our technical expertise which we thought would be enough. We really underestimated the complexity of gaming business and everything that hides behind a beautiful online casino website.
It’s not just about designing quality software, but about communication with finance institutions, dealing with the regulators and licensing institutions, and a lot of investigation on the jurisdiction. We’ve faced many challenges but I’m glad we’ve taken the risk.
SBC: Since it was founded back in 2009, SoftSwiss has grown exponentially in terms of employee numbers and international presence – having recently entered Nigeria, India, Japan and South Korea. What’s been the biggest change in the last few years?
IM: The constantly growing number of people is requiring changes in company management and all company processes. We’ve been working on creating a flat company structure according to the agile methodology and establishing clear and straightforward procedures. However, the most critical thing has been finding the right people and learning to delegate responsibilities.
With over 600 employees, you can’t communicate your corporate values to each of them individually, so you need your core team to spread those values among other employees and make sure that communication and knowledge sharing is running smoothly.
SBC: And are you considering further expansion into any new markets?
IM: For sure we are. Conquering new markets is a never-ending story and there are new countries and continents to come. It’s a matter of research and settling regulation issues, and marketing and finding clients, of course. We are constantly working on it and plan to have a presence in literally every country of the world.
My key philosophy for strategic planning is “think big”. I usually set bigger goals than we seem to be able to achieve, have more projects in the pipeline than we could theoretically implement and sign up with more clients than we could probably serve. It’s important to leave some space for growth because when you achieve one of the “impossible” goals, it’s the best motivation.
SBC: What role has agile methodology played in SoftSwiss’ decision-making?
IM: Agile thinking is our corporate policy and my main business philosophy. It goes beyond development methodology and covers all corporate functions, from human resources and marketing to finance and legal management. I found out that having a network of autonomous teams, each making their own decisions and taking their own responsibility, is much more effective than building a hierarchy.
The key principle of agile corporate culture is putting people at the center and empowering everyone in the organisation. Flexibility and ability to adapt to the rapidly changing environment is another perk of the agile methodology. We see it in our day-to-day business because we need to make quick decisions and react to the market challenges quickly, otherwise it’s hard to stay competitive. And of course, open communication helps to resolve any issue.
SBC: You recently launched your new sportsbook solution which is quickly becoming very popular with betting companies across the industry. What was the thought process behind this product launch? And how has it demonstrated your ability to innovate and ‘look ahead of the game’?
IM: Sports betting has always been a popular part of the online entertainment industry. Many clients using our casino platform also wanted to have a sportsbook, so we looked for reliable solutions from other providers and partnered with them to extend our offering and become a one stop shop.
However, none of the integrated solutions was a perfect match and could satisfy our customers’ high demands. Then we realised that we had enough resources and expertise to build our own sports betting platform, and in January 2019 a team of professionals with prior experience in sport betting started working on the solution.
After 2 years, the software was ready. It is perfect timing as we have several months before the UEFA European Championship to try it out and make sure that the first clients running their betting sites on SoftSwiss Sportsbook Platform enjoy smooth operation.
SBC: SoftSwiss was the first in the world to initiate crypto casinos. Why did you first decide to make that step into the crypto space? And what would be your biggest piece of advice to those looking to enter the crypto casino sector in 2021?
IM: I decided to step into the crypto space as soon as I learnt the meaning of the word Bitcoin. I was fascinated by the smart technology and the possibilities it brings to individuals and the world economy as a whole. I knew crypto currency would be a complete game changer and the sooner we’d learn how to use its advantages in our business, the stronger our position would be. Also, we were a new player in the igaming sector and had to offer some unique advantages.
With Bitcoin payment processing technology, we could offer shorter time to market, less hassle with the banks and payment system providers, instant cash outs, and even better transparency as the “provably fair” idea emerged. No other casino platform provider had anything similar to offer. That really helped SoftSwiss stand out among competition and win our first clients.
I’m still convinced that crypto currencies are the future of online gaming and 2021 is the perfect time to enter the sector. The drastic growth of Bitcoin we’ve been witnessing in the last couple of months confirms my predictions. During the crypto winter when the value of cryptocurrencies dropped by 75%, many businesses stepped out and crypto start ups found it hard to survive. But those who’ve stayed alive and haven’t lost faith in Bitcoin are now being rewarded.
SBC: The betting and gaming industry is going through some drastic changes, both in terms of regulations and new markets opening up. Where do you see the industry heading in the next five years? What are your top predictions?
IM: I see the next five years as a breakthrough period for cryptocurrency gaming. We can observe more and more large businesses jumping into crypto and this is changing the whole picture of the current world economic structure.
Governments will no longer be able to ignore the advantages of blockchain technologies and will inevitably start implementing them in the financial sectors. Gaming regulators will have to follow the trend and make their jurisdictions work in favour of online gaming which has crypto among its payment options.
In terms of the new markets, I expect to see significant growth of the igaming sector in the countries of Africa, Asia, Latin America and India. In Africa, the rise of mobile technologies has facilitated the growth of the online casino industry and local authorities started looking at igaming as an industry which is worth regulating. Companies running business in this sphere can become the main contributors to the national budget, so why not.
Indian online gaming industry has grown to 1B USD by 2021 due to the rise of the digital payment users. The trend is also present on the Asian marketplace. The local regulators can’t ignore the global changes already taking place in the online and mobile segments and will try to keep up with current market demands.
SBC: And, just finally, where does SoftSwiss fit into this rapidly changing market?
IM: Rapid changes are part of our corporate culture, so we are changing as fast as the market demands. We are constantly researching the new markets opening up for online gaming and trying to get in touch with the local authorities to discuss the licensing options.
We adapt our software to fit the requirements of each country and make sure we meet their regulation principles. And of course, we are keeping up with the clients’ expectations to provide top-notch technology: crypto payment processing, mobile gaming, artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms are our top priorities in terms of the platform development for the next couple of years.