- Kitamen is a digital lifestyle brand that aims to grow the e-sports and gaming ecosystem in Malaysia.
- Incorporated in 2016, Kitamen runs gaming centres known as Dojos and help organise competitive e-sports tournaments around Malaysia.
- They currently have 17 Dojos scattered around Malaysia, with plans to build their most ambitious Dojo yet through their crowdfunding campaign on Ata Plus.
Over the past five years, the e-sports industry has seen a growth that can be described as meteoric.
The scene is confidently projected to smash its target of a US$2.3 billion global valuation by the year 2022—more than double its worth in 2018 (USD$906 million). It continues to see big money being poured into it by interested parties with huge capital.
Aiming to help the Malaysian scene keep pace with that freakish growth is Kitamen, a digital lifestyle brand that runs e-sports and gaming-related initiatives around the country.
Under their banner, Kitamen operates licensed e-sports outlets known as Dojos, organises e-sports tournaments and events, as well as offer digital lifestyle solutions for corporations.
“We initially wanted to only create gaming hubs which were an upgrade on the usual cybercafés we were used to,” said 32-year-old Hazman Hassan, one of Kitamen’s co-founders.
“But after opening a few hubs and meeting the many faces of the gaming community, we realised the potential of the industry was much bigger than that.”
Leveling Up The Scene
Incorporated in 2016, Kitamen started off by building gaming centres or Dojos where gamers could come to compete, have fun, and interact with one another.
They moved on to becoming organisers for local gaming tournaments, and provide equipment rentals and consultation services in addition to all their other business verticals.
According to Hazman, Kitamen was founded with only RM10,000 and started out in a rented serviced apartment in KL.
“We bought a few gaming consoles to start off and began marketing ourselves as a ‘digital lifestyle’ company while promoting e-sports,” he said. “We started to build our IPs from there, and through [co-founder] Fahmi’s experience in event management, we managed to diversify our service offering.”
“At that point, we knew there was more to it.”
Over the years, Kitamen have managed to add to their list of accomplishments their involvement in organising high-profile local e-sports tournaments such as the Malaysia Cybergames 2018, and the MESL tournament sponsored by U-Mobile just recently.
“Our biggest achievements have always been the relationships and partnerships that we have forged with other parties within the ecosystem,” Hazman added.
“The industry is still rather young, and public perception towards this has slowly been shifting.”
On the topic of public perception, Hazman was quick to note that this was also one of the stumbling blocks when they first started out.
“Our first battle was to slowly change the mindset of the general public towards e-sports and gaming,” he explained.
“Often dubbed as an unhealthy addiction, we wanted to show people that you could actually make a living off this industry and that there are many professions linked to it.”
It seems that in this endeavour, Kitamen have been somewhat successful. In their very first year of operations, they managed to attain more than RM500,000 in revenue, and just for 2018, they are expecting to hit a revenue of more than RM1 million.
Aiming For The High Score
Currently, Kitamen runs 17 Dojos all over Malaysia, with plans to have at least one in every state by the end of 2018.
“While on the surface it might look like our Dojos are competing in a very undifferentiated market, our focus goes beyond providing the enjoyment of popular gaming titles,” Hazman said. “We want to become a hub—both online and offline—for different segments of the gaming and e-sports ecosystem to coexist, generate innovative ideas, and really create amazing things together.”
“We believe the e-sports and gaming market is taking new forms as this industry grows and it is through innovation and collaboration that we will see it succeed.”
Building upon their optimism for the industry, Kitamen recently launched an equity crowdfunding campaign on Ata Plus with the aim of raising RM2 million with the vision of expanding their presence as one of the foremost proponents of Malaysia’s e-sports scene.
Among their goals is the plan to construct the Epicenter—their most ambitious Dojo yet that will function as an e-sports events space, training centre, a production studio, and a co-working space all in one massive complex.
“We are raising start-up capital to build The Epicenter to act as an e-sports landmark in KL as well as develop a fully-functional online hub for gamers,” said Hazman.
“These will be our main goals for this year and will set the pace for our company. We will also be working closely with our strategic partners to develop grassroots initiatives as well as bigger events that will tie the entire digital lifestyle economy together.”
Getting Good At The Game
These are all plans that have come to demonstrate just how far the Kitamen team have come since their inception.
“Our next challenge comes with scaling our company,” Hazman added.
“There are so many opportunities and business models to experiment with e-sports.”
“We’ve been receiving government and corporate acknowledgement and validation and this will only increase as the e-sports trend continues.”
“And on the consumer side of things, we foresee a growth in interest within the general public as e-sports slowly becomes mainstream,” he added. “How this interest will get catered to by both community and industry players will be vital in determining how the market will expand.”
All things considered, it appears as if the team behind Kitamen understand exactly what they need to do to achieve their objectives, as well as the things they’ve done right in the first place.
On what it took to get to this point, Hazman said that it was all down to “patience and constantly believing in our shared vision”.
“The more people we approached and the more events we did, we managed to educate others and discuss the opportunities that lie within this exciting new industry.”
“It also goes without saying that we’ve always had each other’s back,” he added.
“Another crucial factor was investing and believing in our small but growing team, each with his or her part in tackling each challenge that came our way.”
- For more information on Kitamen and what they do, check out their website or their equity crowdfunding page to learn more about their plans for Malaysia’s e-sports scene.
Feature Image Credit: Kitamen