From newspapers to air purifiers, from Switzerland to the Netherlands...Funworld’s international key account manager took a circuitous route to amusements, but now that he’s in the industry he plans to stay.
How did you first get involved with the amusements industry?
I always liked international business and I was living in Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands from 1989 to 2003 in a completely different kind of industry: industrial yellow pages.
When I came back to Austria it was very difficult to find jobs where I could earn as much money as abroad. I was busy installing a dealer network in Austria and France for air purifiers for cafes, pubs and so on.
One day I met a boss of a slot machine manufacturing and operating company at a gas station where I had a coffee break. We started talking and he liked my international background and my way of negotiating, and so he made me an offer. This is how I started selling casino machines and looking for new places for operation, and became familiar with sports betting shops and their organisation.
Why? What attracted you to this sector?
To be honest, I was not attracted by the sector; I was attracted by earning good money and having a good boss. However, I learned a lot about gaming, gambling, casinos, sports betting and so on. I was selling slot machines in Vienna and Graz, and then there came an election year and nobody bought those machines any more, because the operators were afraid of new laws from a new government. I did not sell much for months.
So I quit my job and applied for a job at Funworld as an international key account manager. Skill and amusement games are totally different from casino gaming, but much more interesting. This is a real challenge: from game development to marketing and sales strategy and the creation of new business models.
Do you think it has changed much since then?
This industry is changing greatly. Every day. This is my third year now at Funworld. In my first year, France was making regulations for online poker, online horse betting and online sports betting. Great, we thought. But there was a problem: no terminals in bistros and so on…and no clear rules for skill and amusement games.
We do not only fight against sometimes incomprehensible regulatory ideas of certain states, we are in the middle of a technological revolution: no more terminals, much more gaming on Internet and even more on smartphones. I am not talking about the future, I am talking about now.
What are the biggest positive factors for the sector right now – the drivers of growth and development?
In our business, new technologies and online media are our biggest growth factors. The Funwin.com gaming platform on the Internet is our most important driver. However, Touch Toy, a children’s terminal with learning software, and our small jukebox, Touch DJ, are becoming stronger and stronger too. Why? Smart, simple and legal in every country. Additionally, we are developing apps for the iPhone. Take a look at the iTunes store and download Amore Mio from Quanmax for free and tell me if you like it!
And what are the negative ones – the obstacles to growth?
I do hate the word “crisis” but I am lacking in vocabulary alternatives. People are earning the same money as years ago while the cost of living has grown considerably. So there is less money for amusement and gaming. Interesting exception: when the economy becomes harder, casino gaming and sports betting grow.
The next big issue is the fact that more and more countries are introducing new laws and regulations which do not really make things easier for the sector. I do not want to name a certain country, but when I mention 30 percent of the gross hold of sports betting and ten percent of the player’s winnings we all know where I am talking about. This is the result of taking quick decisions when you are standing with your back to the wall. This has nothing to do with an enduring and profitable solution for a market.
Looking at your whole career, what do you reckon was your smartest move (large or small)?
Leaving my home town and going abroad when I was young. I have learned much more than I could have learned at home: business, languages, cultures, friendships, international relations, international networking.
And your dumbest one?
Hmmm, if there was one, I am sure I have learned something positive for the future...
Where do you hope you’ll be, professionally, in ten years’ time?
I like my job very much, and my intent is that my international business will continue to grow in the next years so that I will be able to support a big team of partners and dealers even outside Europe, around the globe. I am dreaming of markets like Japan and South America, Brazil for example. Economies are still booming there.
And finally – if you’d never embarked on this career, what other line(s) of work would you have liked to pursue?
A dozen years ago, when I was still living in Belgium, I became a dog instructor in my spare time. We were three trainers and we opened our own dog training camp on weekends, where we trained the dogs of people including handicapped persons. Especially for them, those dogs are not just pets. They are an aid in everyday life, and provide friendship without conditions.
31 March 1967, Linz, Austria
1973-77 Elementary school
1977-81 Grammar school
1981-86 Upper school
1986-89 trainee then local journalist for Austrian newspaper Neue Kronen Zeitung
1989-98 international editorial supervisor for Wer Liefert Was? (“Who Sells What?”), an industrial guide. Based in Hamburg 1989-91, Zug (Switzerland) 1991-2, Brussels and Amsterdam 1993-98.
1999-2003 sales and editorial manager at Deutsche Telekom Medien for Business Deutschland – Gelbe Seiten, Germany’s most important industrial guide, based in Darmstadt
2003-06 international key account manager for Airbutler air purifiers, Linz, Austria
2006-09 sales manager at A.-P. & E. (Assembling, Production & Evolution), handling gambling and gaming devices, sports betting installations and software, Brunn am Gebirge, Austria
2009-present international key account manager for Quanmax’s Funworld division, Lenzing, Austria
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