Please introduce yourself and your company.
My name is Tyler Schrodt and I’m the CEO of the Electronic Gaming Federation (EGF). I started EGF running tournaments out of my dorm room while I was still a student at Rochester Institute of Technology. Today we run a college and high school esports league, work with colleges and high schools across North America to build esports teams, and produce esports media including live broadcasts of our matches and other original content.
How are you disrupting your industry?
The esports industry is still incredibly young, and chaotic, despite the money pouring in from brands, traditional sports teams, and venture capitalists. If you compare esports to traditional sports, most of its critical infrastructure is still missing.
Our focus on the collegiate and high school environments is based on the belief that in order to have a sustainable ecosystem, you need a strong foundation. Our role is to develop that foundation through collaborations with college administrators to build not just a strong competitive environment, but educational opportunities for the newest generations of students. When we succeed, we’ll have integrated all the lessons traditional sports have learned to create an amateur system that’s unique to esports.
What’s been your biggest challenge and how have you overcome it?
Our biggest challenge has been the knowledge gap that exists around esports – even with sold out stadiums all over the world, hundreds of millions of viewers and increasing attention from non-endemics, for a lot of people esports are still a foreign concept so we spend a lot of our time as esports evangelists, showing how esports parallels the structures and benefits of traditional sports.
What’s your most and least favorite part of your job?
My favorite part is the colossal challenge of designing our system that bridges two cultures that have traditionally been at odds with one another, and that respects the potential impact it could have on someone’s life.
My least favorite part is having to say no to projects that I personally think are important to our industry but are outside of our scope.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone starting a new business?
Become an expert on your industry, not just your product, and to the point of obsession. Spend the first part of your company’s life talking to who you think your customers will be before you start building anything.
What’s the most beneficial part of being within the Grand Central Tech ecosystem?
It’s impossible to deny the benefit of being around insanely smart people building cool shit. I love taking inspiration from people that are doing something completely unrelated to anything we’re building, to help us approach a problem in a different way. Being around the level of energy that comes with the program is invaluable.
What’s next for you and your company?
Over the next six months we’ll be expanding some of our programs to many new cities and colleges, and continuing to improve our ground game working with college students, who are catalyzing change on their campus.