Matthew B. Schmidt of Alpha Tech: “Don’t stray from your core focus”

Don’t stray from your core focus. We can and do work on so many exciting things, but it’s important to have it all stem out from our core focus, add value to the players, and have that same DNA across our portfolio. As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things […]

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Don’t stray from your core focus. We can and do work on so many exciting things, but it’s important to have it all stem out from our core focus, add value to the players, and have that same DNA across our portfolio.

As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Matthew B. Schmidt.

Matthew B. Schmidt is a technology entrepreneur and film producer. Now he is the CEO of Alpha Tech, an integrated eSports company with competitive gaming that has one of the biggest and most accessible online gaming community that hosts live contests for real prices.

Matthew studied design at Emily Carr University and continued his education, studying Business and Marketing at British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT). Matthew has worked within Vancouver’s film industry for over nine years, while simultaneously producing and marketing nightlife and cultural events in Vancouver BC. Matthew opened his first entertainment venue at 26-years-old. Matthew’s extensive background in producing and executing live events is reflective of his passion for working within high energy, fast-paced environments.

In 2016 Matthew produced his first feature film. During the four short years since then he has worked as an Executive Producer on over nine films, with cumulative budgets of over $60 million. Matthew co-founded Paradise City Films in 2017 and now predominantly focuses on film finance, development and “film packaging”, working closely with the industries leading agencies.

Matthew has also applied his creative energy and networking skills towards businesses in tech, cannabis and design. Through these endeavors, Matthew has maintained his dedication and deep passion for media and the art of storytelling. Matthew has advised on companies such as, Victory Square Technologies, Immersive Tech and V2 Games. Navigating the media and entertainment space has led Matthew to the fast-growing eSports phenomenon. Matthew takes both a conventional and unconventional media approach to the social competitive gaming space, focusing on the immense value of connecting people, fans and brands in an emotional and cultural way.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I grew up on film sets in Vancouver, BC. Through college, I worked in hospitality, which became an event and promotions company I founded. I opened my first nightclub venue at 26, and I started producing feature films in 2015, focusing on what we call packaging (bringing all the people and assets together) around strong IP. I have always been passionate about creative projects that bring people together and offer emotional experiences, something I strongly believe gaming provides individuals. This is also one of the many reasons I am super excited to lead Alpha Tech.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

We focus on the amateur and emerging gamer, a lower barrier to entry, and a larger market segment.

I think the eSports industry is still in its infancy. Our industry’s tech is a decade ahead, yet the branding and business development is a decade behind. We at Alpha have some strong media executives on our team and are working on bridging that gap.

We take more of a social and community approach to the macro arena itself, with our core asset GamerzArena. This is a cross-platform tournament provider allowing users to win prizes, connect, get stats, and improve. We have hosted tournaments in partnership with large scale organizations, conventional sports teams, and colleges, allowing them to engage with their audiences in unique and authentic ways.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I was working in film as an assistant, we would get the script’s newly edited pages, and it was like this mystical thing when they came in.

The gag was the hero was being chased off a bridge by the bad guys. They run her car off the bridge, and we see the car sinking in the water. We cut to inside the vehicle. She’s banging on the glass and breaks out. She swims down-shore as the bad guys watch the car bubble down and sink. They think she’s dead. They didn’t have any budget to shoot the water tank stuff and rig the car in and out of the water. Everyone was panicking in a production meeting.

So I’m just thinking through my mental Rolodex of scenes in my brain (being raised on movies and television). I said, “what if they run her off the road, the car goes up in flames. The bad guys watch it burn. She breaks out coughing from the smoke and crawls down the hill as the bad guys watch the car blow up. It’s the same beat, but it would be cheaper to burn an old car. The room went silent. I thought I was going to get fired.

Then the director says, let’s try it. That day on set, watching the car engulfed in flames, I remember thinking, that’s it, the best idea wins. Just keep coming up with good ideas. Don’t hold back and speak your truth.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who has been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

Jonathan Anastas, who is our Chairman, has been an enormous help. He has been a pioneer in the gaming industry for years, working with major players in the space, such as Atari and Activision. He has helped set a clear, concise roadmap for our company and how we will differentiate ourselves. Having a name such as Jonathan Anastas gives our young company instant credibility, and I cannot wait to learn more from him and make Alpha Tech the best company we can.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is always disrupting good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

I’ve always looked at “disruptive” tech as an evolution, building on what came before. And every now and then, we see these big jumps forward, but a lot of the time these groups and technologies have been percolating in the fringes somewhere. People have existing behaviors and deeper emotional feelings that they base decisions on. No matter how new or disruptive something is, I always try to dig down to the core feeling it offers or behavior it improves.

What was once viewed as gaming platforms are now viewed as global communities, look at Roblox (currently valued at $29.5 Billion) and what they are doing. Opening it up to developers and doing revenue shares reminds me of the early stages of Apple iOS apps. It really harnesses the compounded creativity of all these amazing people out there. Users are given the opportunity to become creators. For example, Roblox is now working on offering kids to attend virtual birthday parties and concerts with friends and teach courses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

People want to participate; they want to belong. As advanced as technology gets, human beings are emotional first.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

Listen. In a space that is moving this fast, I continue to learn so much listening to our team, colleagues, and gamer base.

Don’t stray from your core focus. We can and do work on so many exciting things, but it’s important to have it all stem out from our core focus, add value to the players, and have that same DNA across our portfolio.

Watch what younger people are using and doing. When I was in my teens and early 20’s, many adults probably didn’t understand social media. This is similar to what we see in gaming right now and the evolution of things like Twitch, Discord, Tik Tok, and trend forecasting on where these behaviors go from here.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

Esports right now is like the wild west of a new frontier. People are now taking it seriously, media companies see the value and how engaged this audience is. Many people still haven’t cracked the core business models that offer value back to gamers without annoying them. As many companies focused on the high-level pro teams, I see a lot of white space in the amateur and emerging gamers and within colleges and universities, which is currently fragmented.

Some people have done an excellent job of owning streaming or chat. All the big publishers continue to put out amazing titles and experiences.

We at Alpha will become the gold standard for scouting and ranking. I feel we can achieve this by working with larger brands and organizations, giving them the tools to engage their existing audiences and meet new younger audiences where they are.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

I haven’t had a ton of free time lately, but the latest book I bought was Saving Social by Ryan Holmes (founder of Hootsuite), a great guy and a Vancouver founder.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

One of my mentors once told me, “The best companies are where management think like shareholders, and shareholders think like management.” This has stayed with me as we scale and grow, and I always invite my team to put themselves in everyone else’s perspectives.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

The movement I would inspire is inclusivity and representation in our industries. This is long overdue in film, tech, and venture capital. In all technology, we have seen inherent bias from the people who created it, whether conscious or unconscious. I would love to continue to form great teams representing our audiences and focus on exceptional new talent and fresh perspectives. At the end of the day, a business is a discussion making machine, and we need to form the best one possible that can navigate us into the future.

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

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