How to Get from Goethe to Gaming: Spend 30 Years as an IT Trailblazer!
You were born in India. How long did you live there before moving to Germany? And how did you end up in Germany?
About my Indian history, I was born in Calcutta and brought up in Delhi. In 1957, at the age of 21, I left India for Germany. I stayed in Germany and the UK for around 5 years and then went back to India, stayed there for one year and returned to Germany with a scholarship for studying German literature in Munich. I was encouraged to write a thesis on dramas written by the German poet Goethe, who was significantly influenced by the ancient Indian dramatist Kalidasa (especially his drama Shakuntala) and the Persian poet Hafiz.
You have a doctorate in German literature, yet you worked in the IT industry for over 30 years. Thatís quite the variance. What did you study before your doctorate? How did you end up in the IT industry? And what did you do in IT?
I did Bachelor of Science in India before moving to Germany. While writing my thesis in Munich, I started looking for some keyword-based information retrieval system because I had to prove that my thesis was unique and not already published somewhere in the world. Of course, I didnít find any such system in the first half of the sixties. But I found a director of a department for innovative systems in a multinational enterprise with its headquarters in Munich. He was interested in developing a natural language query system for commercial uses. And I got a job under him to develop such a system after learning to write algorithms in Assembler, COBOL and Lisp. We were quite successful and developed a query system which was definitely more sophisticated than the current Google search algorithm, but (commercially) much less successful. Those days, we did not have computers large and fast enough to do natural language searches with acceptable response time.
I worked for that company for 15 years in the field of Artificial Intelligence, concentrating on Knowledge-Based systems. Then I started my own software company specialized in software quality assurance including automated testing of software. And that brought me also to the gaming industry.
How did you learn about the online gaming industry?
My own software company got a small contract from a group of investors to test an online poker site they were developing. We found so many bugs that they decided to cancel their project. But that gave me some insight into the complexity of a gaming program and its IT environment. Several years later, I met the person who sponsors our site, Online Casino Newsroom, who was interested in developing an online gaming site. Therefore, I started visiting some gaming conferences and exhibitions.
What about the industry interests you?
To be honest, the most interesting thing about this industry for me has been initially the prospect of earning good money using my IT background, working mainly from home. A few more things have come up during the last 18 months. The most interesting of them is to be involved as a small part in a process with so many different types of actors coming from all parts of the world: gaming players, gaming operators, affiliate management systems, payment systems, regulation bodies, and the forum communities. This really fascinates me.
When and why did you decide to become an affiliate?
Although the initial plan of my sponsor was to start a gaming site, it became clear to me pretty soon, after attending a couple of gaming exhibitions, that becoming a gaming operator could be a disaster, especially if you are a total newcomer in this area. I found an alternative in becoming an affiliate. I knew that my IT background, some SEO knowledge acquired during the nineties, and my connection to software developers in India would help me to build up a reasonably good site within a relatively short period of time.
What lessons from experiences in running your own company and the IT field in general have helped you as an affiliate?
The most important lesson I learned from running my own company was not to despair when almost everything seems to go wrong. The most useful experiences from the IT field are related to software quality assurance and web design.
What were the most difficult challenges for you as a new arrival into the industry? And how did you meet them?
The most difficult challenge was my total ignorance in gambling. Without gambling experience, I found it very difficult to assess the requirements of the online gamblers. What games would they like to play? What type of information would they like on our site?
So, I started reading gaming guides, histories of card and slot games, and playing online for fun using the help texts. Finally, I decided to contact a few passionate gamblers and watch them playing. This was definitely the most important part of my learning process, which is still ongoing.
What is currently the most difficult part of your work?
Our site is growing and we know that it would be more effective if we had a few more sites interlinked. I donít have enough resources for the required content management and SEO of all that. But this is the same situation I am familiar with from my old software company. You must have patience and continue making as much progress as possible.
How has the GPWA helped you as an affiliate?
Very significantly indeed! When I introduced myself after being admitted as a private member, there were, as usual, many congratulations, and almost all of them said, without GPWA they wouldnít be where they are today. I didnít realize then that they really meant it.
The help of GPWA is to a great extent help coming from the entire community, although we are, after all, a bunch of competitors. But we all know the net revenue we get through networking. Of course the infrastructure of this network, the GPWA management, makes a significant contribution also.
For a newcomer like me, all that I have learnt about the gambling business through the GPWA is absolutely invaluable.
What do your friends and family think about your new line of business?
They are used to my doing odd things. So it is partly amusement for them and partly curiosity. Will he really earn some good money this way?
Do you gamble online? If so, what's your favourite game and why?
I have not yet gambled using real money. I do play with fun money. I prefer playing multi-player games. There you are playing in an environment where other human beings are also involved.
It is my intention to invest a certain percentage of my affiliate revenue for playing. Will I become an addict? I was a chain smoker for over 30 years. I know what it means to be an addict.
What advice can you offer people who are just starting up in the industry?
How long did it take for you to start earning money?
- First, donít let yourself be lured into starting your own casino, white label or whatever. That is a perfect non-starter for a newcomer. Better think of starting an affiliate.
- Go to conferences and exhibitions like CAP, CAC, etc., talk to affiliate managers, casino software providers, epayment providers, SEO experts.
- If you have no experience in gambling, play online casinos with fun money and read as much as you can about gambling rules, histories, etc.
- Visit as many affiliate sites as you can.
- Define your focus: what type of information you want to present on your site, for whom, in what language, for which countries.
- Make your concept and decide whether to build the site on your own or outsource it.
- In any case, learn SEO and, if you can afford it, get an SEO expert.
- Choose a suitable IT infrastructure and the right design and implementation tools.
- Build the site, start filling it up with contents, do SEO and donít go online until the site is stable.
- Do all that only if youíre prepared not to expect any revenue for 6 months, at least.
What was your favourite subject in school? And why was it your favourite subject?
Literature and Mathematics. Influenced by my father, I started reading at the age of 5 Ė newspapers, comics, detective stories. At the age of 12, I was already reading Ė apart from parts of Indian literature, plenty of English literature: Shakespeare, Dickens, Sir Walter Scott, Emily BrontŽ. . . .
In math, I loved algebra, later also calculus, but hated geometry.
If you weren't working in online gaming right now, what would you be doing?
Nothing, if I would listen to my wife. But she knows that is not going to happen, although as a retired person, I could afford that. After I started my IT career almost 40 years back, I started neglecting reading literature. I have thousands of books at home. I would start reading them again.