SINGAPORE-BASED startup EVOS Esports has raised US$4.4 million in Series A funds as it looks to seize the untapped market of gaming influencer management in South-east Asia.
The initial close of US$3 million at the start of the year was funded by Insignia Ventures Partners, while an additional US$1.4 million came from a group of angel investors from leading conglomerates in Indonesia, as well as from the top-level management of a leading e-commerce player in China.
EVOS, which was founded in 2017, houses competitive e-sports teams across six major games. It operates in five countries, where it trains and supports 13 teams comprising 62 players. Three teams from EVOS are set to represent Singapore and Indonesia in the upcoming South-east Asian Games.
The fresh funding will be used to grow the startup's e-sports entertainment arm, which currently manages 50 gaming influencers exclusively and partners with 250 e-sports talents. EVOS' chief strategic officer Ang Teng Jen told The Business Times that e-sports influencers form the pillar of live-streaming and content platforms.
In August, top gaming influencer Tyler "Ninja" Blevins announced that he was leaving live-streaming platform Twitch for an exclusive contract with Microsoft's streaming platform Mixer, in a deal estimated to be around US$20-30 million, said Mr Ang.
"We see the same trend happening in South-east Asia, where our top e-sports influencers earn around US$30,000 to US$60,000 a month – a hundred times higher than a typical fresh graduate's salary."
EVOS provides streaming contracts, brand endorsement deals and offline event gigs to influencers, as well as managing their social media channels and creating content for them. Its influencers have a total of over two million followers on their social media platforms and more than 34 million subscribers to their channels.
Co-founder and CEO Ivan Yeo said e-sports is one of the fastest-growing industries globally but remains largely untapped across South-east Asia. But more brands are looking to get into e-sports – sponsorship money per sponsor has grown to over US$500,000 currently, from US$10,000 when EVOS started.
The startup has worked with more than 40 brands, including Lazada, Gareno and Lenovo. It is partnering e-commerce brands to create e-sports content on the brands' platforms, such as e-sports game shows and online user tournaments with professional players.
EVOS has about 120 employees, including about 100 in Indonesia.
Tan Yinglan, founding managing partner at Insignia Ventures Partners, said: "Most importantly, Ivan and his team have a clear roadmap to become the dominant player in South-east Asia, securing key partnerships with leading platforms and publishers across the region."