SiGMA caught up with entrepreneurs and affiliate buddies Max Noremo & Magnus Karnéus Hall.
Tell us more about the success story of your affiliate business; how did it happen, how did it all start? Can you take us through a journey in time, shedding light on some of the most remarkable moments, challenges and achievements in history?
It hasn’t been a short journey, I can tell you that. We started out very small, creating our first website about three years ago. Back then we had no clue what we were doing, but we had the motivation to keep trying and failing until it worked. We also consulted our good friends in the industry, like Oliver Fagerdahl at Betsafe, who has been a great mentor.
One day I remember clearly was when we made our first €100. We had, before that, not made a single penny, and we were not 100% sure this would actually work out. I guess that’s the success story put succinctly; to never give up on your dreams and to keep work hard.
We tried to create something new. We wanted our website to look and feel more like a casino than a regular affiliate site. Trust, conversion and user-friendliness were our keywords during the whole site-building project, and now we can see that a lot of competitors are using our ideas in their new sites, which, to us, is like a stamp of approval.
In terms of the end user, what distinguishes your affiliate site/s from the many competitors out there? Can you name the traffic sources you currently have?
I would say the design and the user-friendliness. We’ve tried from day one to do something different and new, and I’m glad to say we succeeded with our goal. Competing affiliates, operators as well as regular people have given us great feedback on the website.
Before starting the project we used friends and family as test pilots, getting them to visit loads of different affiliate websites. This would let us know what they liked and did not like, and also how to make the experience as easy as possible for the user.
What made you move to Malta and how was your experience settling here? Most of the operators on your site are also based in Malta – is this coincidental?
We used to live here for three years and we have both missed the island since then. We started working together after we moved away and our goal since then has been to come back. Being able to work in a county filled with driven entrepreneurs really makes a big difference and, as you mentioned, being based on a walking distance from the operators we work with is definitely a plus!
What’s next for your business? Do you plan on selling or merging? How do you plan on growing this business?
Our next step is to go into new markets; in Scandinavia but also in Asia. There are a lot of exciting new markets as well as new products we are looking at. That’s a keystone in growing our business; branching out, reaching more users.
What is your main source of traffic? SEO & content writing? Email marketing? SMS marketing? White Hat, Black hat, Google algorithms keep changing constantly. How do you stay afloat?
Our main source of traffic is organic search, so SEO and content writing is a big part of it.
By constantly keeping an eye on what competitors and other websites do, but also by trying (and sometimes failing) new methods of ranking. It’s definitely not easy to work against an algorithm which is constantly changing, but it’s exiting and very rewarding when you try something new that work.
Do you work directly with the operators or did you find it easier to work with an affiliate network such as Matching Visions? What’s your relationship with these affiliate networks? How helpful have they been in helping your business take off the ground?
We used to always work directly with operators, but this last year we have also worked with a few different networks. Both ways have their pros and cons, but I would say that an affiliate network such as Matching Visions really can save you a lot of time. A good example is at the end of the month when you have to do all the invoicing to a bunch of different operators. With Matching Visions, for example, you only need to invoice them; they take care of chasing all the operators.
On an employee level, what makes employees stay with the company? How many employees do you have or plan on recruiting in the coming months?
I think you can go far with a good environment where the employees get feedback and appreciation from their employers. At the moment we do not have any full time employees, but we’re looking at hiring content.
E-sport, daily fantasy sport, binary; has any of these buzz words made it to the board room yet? Are there plans to delve into these markets?
They definitely have, particularly e-sports. We used to play games when we were younger, and we are impressed with how big the e-sports market has gotten since then. Definitely something we’re going to explore further!
We certainly hope to catch up over a pleasant dinner during SiGMA. What do you think of having a show like this in Malta? Have you ever attended SiGMA before?
That sounds like a plan. We’ve only been to iGB Berlin and London so far, but this year we’re definitely attending SiGMA. We’ve heard so much about the conference, and since all the operators are already here, it’s quite logical to host such a show in Malta, to be honest. Plus, the island lends itself quite well for wining and dining.
What are your passions outside the office environment? How do you spend leisure time outside work?
Our main goal is to find balance, so we try to do a little bit of everything. We spend a lot of time with friends and try to enjoy life, which is not that hard living in Malta. Dinners and some shenanigans does of course also take place from time to time!