Austin 2021 Challenge
Company Website: https://www.esportsfpn.com/
Company Bio: MAP Esports Network Inc. is an esports, media & content distribution company with integrated platforms, and programs for grassroots and mainstream communities. They inform, entertain, celebrate, support, & promote the esports industry while helping disadvantaged kids via STEM & STEAM initiatives, esports, robotics & coding competitions. MAP Esports provides franchise business opportunities for teams, publications and gaming centers.
This month’s Founders First Member Spotlight is with Jacob R. Miles III, the CEO of MAP Esports Network, an integrated multimedia esports and videogame network that serves at-risk kids. MAP Esports recently received a $100,000 investment after Jacob pitched at a Founders First pitch session as part of his graduation from the Austin 2021 Challenge program. Following that, the former CEO of GameStop also invested another $50,000.
So how does someone who didn’t grow up on esports become the CEO of an esports company? Well, Jacob did work in toys and video games as an engineer at Kenner. He also worked with Sega game systems and Atari. But more importantly, he was an at-risk kid himself, and his life growing up in government housing projects in Cincinnati, Ohio, helped shape his vision for the company. Those housing projects were “generational,” Jacob said, and there “wasn’t a lot to aspire to.”
Luckily for Jacob, mentors, family members, and teachers exposed him to engineering and different kinds of media. One of his teachers even helped him get into an engineering apprentice program for at-risk kids.
So, as an adult, he wanted to give back. “I wanted to find a way to have a positive impact on at-risk kids and help them understand the jobs and careers that are available behind esports, behind video games,” he said. Esports became the perfect opportunity to reach kids through the things they love. That’s how MAP Esports Network was founded, and now Jacob finds himself right in the middle of a fast-growing market.
MAP Esports focuses on three core areas: gaming centers, events, and media (including online, print, podcasts, and video). Each segment supports and builds on the other.
The company installs gaming centers at rec centers where kids can come after school. They work with Dell to set up equipment not only for esports but for robotics and coding, too. Having access to broadband at the center is essential for the kids as most of them couldn’t even do their homework at home during the COVID pandemic because they were without it. When the kids come into the rec centers to play games, they’re exposed to jobs and careers that are behind video games, esports, robotics, coding, and so forth.
The company also has standalone gaming centers that are designed as clubs, which they will be franchising soon. They have job and career fairs, invite speakers, and they also help educate parents about opportunities in esports – something that is needed since many don’t even understand what esports really is.
MAP Esports got a $100,000 investment from a tech company after Jacob invited them to his Founders First pitch session and stoked their interest. “They were very impressed by Founders First, and it really was about educating,” Jacob said. “It’s one thing to go and just pitch your idea, but you have to help people understand what’s out there? Why is this needed? Why is this important?”
Jacob credits Founders First with helping him cutback his presentation to just its key highlights. He also learned that he wasn’t just pitching for dollars; he was pitching for strategic partners, too. Partnering with a company that already had his customers was a valuable insight.
Mentorship is also a big part of the Founders program for him. With technology and the financial vehicles available to you always changing, “Founders First is the perfect solution to help aspiring entrepreneurs understand those changes and best practices,” Jacob said. “Get in the Founders First program and seek mentors, seek strategic partners. I would even say first before seeking money.” He also advocated getting different mentors for every side of your business – engineering, marketing, sales, etc.
His other bit of advice: study human behavior. Jacob said he reads more books on human behavior than technology or esports. “Human behavior 200 years ago, a thousand years ago, isn’t much different than human behavior today,” he said. We just have a lot more technology and things move way faster. “Read Aristotle,’ he advised, as well as today’s work.
Great advice, Jacob! Now we have to dust off our Greek philosophy texts! Here at Founder’s First we wish Jacob and MAP Esports Network continued success as they build their business and help underserved kids across the U.S.