ESports Startup Gamer Sensei Tracks Down $4M for Video Game Coaching

Xconomy Boston — 

[Updated 8/30/17, 8:07 am, with comments from co-founder.] The popularity of eSports is surging around the world, and elite video game competitors are getting rich winning tournaments in front of sold-out arenas. Investors think that spells opportunity for Gamer Sensei, a Boston-based startup that connects eSports players with professional gamers who provide one-on-one online lessons.

The young company today announced it received a $4 million investment led by Accomplice and Advancit Capital, with contributions from other new and previous Gamer Sensei backers. Last year, the company announced a $2.3 million seed funding round led by Accomplice and Boston Seed Capital.

Gamer Sensei was founded by Rohan Gopaldas, William Collis, and Jiapeng Ji. The company’s software matches gamers of all skill levels with coaches who are experienced in competitive eSports games like Dota 2 and League of Legends.

Gamer Sensei is trying to take advantage of the sharp growth in the eSports industry, which involves professional, organized, multiplayer video game competitions. There are more than 191 million eSports “enthusiasts” worldwide, according to Newzoo, a market research firm that tracks the sector. The company projects the eSports industry will generate $696 million in global revenue this year, up from about $493 million last year. Most of that is from brands spending money on advertising, sponsorships, and media rights. Newzoo predicts the industry will reach $1.5 billion by 2020.

The best gamers can win serious cash. Sports Illustrated reported that the total payout for The International Dota 2 Championship last year was nearly $21 million. Each member of the winning team—a Chinese squad dubbed Wings Gaming—raked in $1.87 million. By comparison, the golfer who won last year’s Masters tournament, Danny Willett, collected $1.8 million, Sports Illustrated pointed out.

Gamer Sensei will invest its new funding in marketing and product development, according to a company statement e-mailed to Xconomy and attributed to Collis. The company is also hiring, although Collis wouldn’t say how many employees it has and how many people it plans to add.

Collis said Gamer Sensei is generating revenue, but he declined to share specific figures since the company is privately held. Gamer Sensei’s coaches charge fees for their lessons—usually around $15 to $20 an hour, but some command above $60—and the company takes a 20 percent cut, Collis said in the prepared statement.

The company has “tens of thousands” of users and “many hundreds” of coaches on its platform, Collis said.

“We’re very selective with the coaches on our platform,” Collis said. “They not only have to be great at the games they’re coaching, but they have to be great at teaching as well.”

[The top photo was taken at The International Dota 2 tournament held at Seattle’s KeyArena in 2014. Photo by Flickr user Dota 2 The International, republished under a Creative Commons By 2.0 license.]