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Nitish Mittersain on building Nazara Technologies and its journey to becoming a Rs 5,000 Cr gaming company

Gaming and sports media platform Nazara Technologies went public in March this year. Nitish Mittersain, Founder and Managing Director of Nazara Technologies, says that one of the biggest advantages it has as the only listed online gaming company in India is that it allows them to offer listed equity to its partners enabling a big opportunity.

“One big advantage we have is that we are the only listed gaming company today in the market, which allows us to offer our listed equity to partners, and that is a big opportunity, because it gives us further leverage. It also allows us to get our incoming partners, founders, and management teams to hold Nazara stocks, which kind of aligns them to the overall growth story,” Nitish says.

Nitish Mittersain, Founder and Managing Director of Nazara Technologies [Image Credit: 100X Entrepreneur Podcast]

The founder explains that Nazara came into existence owing to his love for gaming from a young age. While it started as an online casual games portal back in 1999-2000s, now Nazara’s offerings range from across interactive gaming, eSports, and gamified early learning ecosystems.

“I came from a textile family background and since my grandfather’s time, my family has been running our textile cotton mill. But I got into gaming at a young age after my dad bought me a ZX Spectrum when I was six, and I was completely hooked to it. By the time I was seven, I was coding basic games. When I was in school I was fascinated by what the internet had to offer. So I think I just took a different turn in my life. And then, when I was studying in college in Mumbai, I was planning to go abroad for an MBA, and then Nazara happened,” he adds.

Nazara’s journey to success

With its IPO, Nazara gave over 80 percent as listing gains to its IPO applicants. According to Nitish, the company is today valued at around Rs 5,000 crore.

While Nazara is now one of the leading gaming companies in the country, it also overcame its fair share of challenges in the early days. In the initial years, when Nazara was launched, the online gaming industry had not yet gained popularity in India.

“From the Indian gaming perspective, maybe we were a decade too early. You didn’t have proper internet then and you didn’t have the devices. Those were the challenges, which over the years have improved significantly,” Nitish says.

He adds that the company also faced struggles in the first three to four years, but it was a learning experience for the team.

“From 2004, we kind of jumped back into gaming in a proper way. We focused on mobile phone gaming instead of the online gaming. We started working with many telcos in India and expanded that business globally, and over the years, by 2007-08, we were running a fairly profitable, tight and lean…Westbridge Capital invested in 2005 and 2007 small amounts of money of around $1.5 million each. We raised a total of $3 million, and by then the company had become profitable,” he says.

Post 2015, Nazara expanded into different gaming verticals and also focused on an acquisition-driven strategy, which is called as “Friends of Nazara”. To date, Nazara has acquired brands such as NODWIN Gaming, Nextwave Multimedia, SportsKeeda, and Paper Boat Apps.

“In the recent times, we acquired a company in Turkey, which is a game marketing agency called PublishMe. So I think that the model of ‘friends of Nazara’ has now been set over the last three to four years and is working well for us. We find it as a fantastic way to partner and align with passionate founders and management teams, with whom we can approach our common dream and that sense of doing something big in the gaming space,” Nitish says.

In this episode of 100X Entrepreneur Podcast, Nitish Mittersain, Founder and Managing Director of Nazara Technologies, talks about the company’s initial journey, challenges, and road to success

To know more, listen to the podcast here

Notes –

01:14 – Textile business and family background; coding games in BASIC

02:33 – Started Nazara in 1999 when he was 1st year in college

04:27 – 2000 Dot-Com Bubble – “I often say, I did an expensive but enriching MBA, sitting here in Bombay.”

06:54 – Focus on cash flows; not chasing vanity metrics

07:13 – Raising funds & friends of Nazara

07:59 – Acquisition since 2015 – NODWIN Gaming & Nextwave Multimedia among others

08:44 – Synergy between the acquirer & the acquiree company

10:14 – “Over a 20+ years journey in gaming always looked like a mirage in the desert.”

13:10 – “Just trying to run a profitable business today may not be good enough.”

14:56 – Advantage of being the only listed gaming company

20:09 – Source of revenue: In-app purchases vs advertising

20:51 – What convinced Rakesh Jhunjhunwala to invest?

24:53 – Getting listed in Indian markets being a startup

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