In conversation with: John Gordon

Welcome to our Q and A series, where we bring together entrepreneurs and leaders in the business community. Each interviewee brings their unique perspective and hands-on experience of the challenges faced when starting and scaling a company.

4 October 2023

John Gordon

John Gordon, Founder of Incentive Games, talks Changing Direction

So where did it all begin?

Like all good business stories, ours began in the Caribbean – almost exactly ten years ago.  I was a Lead Chemical Engineer working for an oil and gas company. It wasn’t what I dreamed of growing up – when it came to choosing a career, I simply Googled ‘best-paid jobs’ and picked one. The novelty of that, and being stranded on a mega-hot island, soon wore off, though.

Likewise, the constant barrage of North American fantasy sports betting ads. But, being a fantasy football geek and a keen mathlete, I got sucked in – and thought there was a gap in the market back home. Alongside three university mates, we founded a company, hired software developers, secured investment… and realised that the biggest ‘fantasy’ in this game was profit. So we decided to pivot. 

Was it an easy decision to pivot the business?

The long and short of it is no. It was a huge decision, but you should never shy away from being bold as a founder.

We’d made viral apps, which had reached the top of the UK download charts, so we knew we could make engaging products. We turned our pay-to-play fantasy game into a free-to-play engagement game, creating a suite of complimentary products like score predictors. This took us from B2C to B2B and allowed us to focus on what we were best at – the product and technology, rather than driving traffic.  

We started selling our products to Tier 3 gambling operators. I blinked and, now, I’m proud to say that we are the number one supplier in the industry, with clients including Bet365, Fan Duel, Betway, Dafabet, Live Score and Virgin Bet. 

What more could the ecosystem be doing to support businesses like Incentive Games?

We are fortunate in that we found good advisors. Having a trusted advisor in Shepherd and Wedderburn has been key to our success. They have supported us for several years. One of their partners mentored us, giving us stellar advice and even the use of their meeting spaces (with a great view) in London. It may seem like something small, but the use of meeting rooms allowed us to have a presence in London at the time we needed it most. We need more of the business community to open up their doors, and time, to early-stage businesses in order to really move from a start-up to a scale-up nation.

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