In an interview with FE’s Sarthak Kathayat, Ankush Gera, CEO of Junglee Games says it is a company for gamers by gamers and explains what the idea behind the venture was and what makes it different from other gaming companies.
1. How did you get the idea for the concept of Junglee Games?
I played a lot of poker in high school and college and always wanted to build a product business. I had a huge affinity for games – India is still at a very nascent stage in terms of gaming companies.
2. As an Angel Investor, what qualities do you seek in a startup? Are these qualities present in Junglee Games as well?
Team. Are the founders ready to let their egos go and bring in people whothey can listen to and learn from? Do they have true leadership qualities tobuild and nurture a team? Then comes the ‘idea’. I don’t like investing incompanies with ideas that are cloned or have limited potential in terms of market size. These qualities are present in Junglee Games as well which is why we have built the team that we have.
3. How did Junglee Games manage to stay afloat in 2010, a time when Zynga had launched ‘Farmville’ that had a 10 million daily active users within 6 weeks of launch?
That wasn’t difficult for us. It was rather inspirational to see what Zynga had done and I wanted to create that disruption for the Indian market. Back then, there were companies like Ibibo that were building low quality games at a high scale. Zynga and many others were an inspiration to bringing a world class quality of gaming content to the Indian market where nobody was really building high quality games. Zynga was never the competitor because we weren’t looking at the US market.
4. What is unique about Junglee Games that makes it different from other online games?
There are lots of different things. One would be the team. We’re a company of gamers, building games. People in leadership positions are either veterans in gaming industry, previous founders or are gamers/players. We are a company built for gamers by gamers. The second difference is culture; the culture we’ve built within the company within the team. We’re a team of 80 people and maybe we’ve lost people in the single digit percentages over 3-4 years. The reason for the team’s loyalty is that we invest a lot in culture and the people. I try to do 1-1 meetings with most everyone and we try to maintain a work-hard, play-hard culture. We try to groom people to understand that there is no beating around the bush. Our fundamental goal is that wherever the business goes, everyone every year should grow and become an upgraded version of themselves. Customer support is usually the weakest area in a gaming company that doesn’t get any attention but we have really built a high quality customer service and loyalty engine. So the culture that we’ve built has retains our employees has carried through our customers which helps us retain more users and grow faster.
5. On what basis do you claim to be India’s largest gaming company? Who are your immediate rivals?
There is no survey for that. There might be companies hitting the same user base but we’ve crossed 10 million users very quickly in a matter of couple of years. Our revenues are growing aggressively year on year. We have two arms; the social gaming arm and the skill games arm. When it comes to the skill games, the closest rival is Ace2Three and when it comes to social games, the closest rival would be MoonFrog.