Like many serial entrepreneurs, Cortney Davis has a knack for spotting trends. Davis, who has a background in real estate investing and has done business in construction clean-up and green energy, noticed a trend early in the COVID-19 pandemic: People were gaming from home. Lots of them.
With offices locked down and sheltering-in-place the new norm, that meant not just a boom in recreational gaming, but a necessary move for competitive gaming—eSports—from in-person tournaments to remotely managed professional matches. That’s where Davis saw the opportunity, launching Hyperluxe Gaming to make it easier for gamers to participate in online eSports tournaments and for tournament organizers, or TOs, to build their own brands on his platform.
“What really brought about the opportunity to make this a business is that there’s a huge market out there for gamers who are gaming for a living,” Davis said. “Some gamers can legitimately stay at home, compete on a global stage and earn cash while doing so.”
Davis and his team launched Hyperluxe Gaming in August 2020 and raised $250,000 in the first week, he said. In total, Hyperluxe has raised $1 million in angel funds, allowing them to iterate quickly and push out a 2.0 version of their platform this spring. On the new platform, anyone who decides to become a TO can sign up, deposit some prize money (for contests that award prizes) and set up a tournament. Hyperluxe then helps the TO promote their tournament and collect entry fees. The software runs the brackets automatically as the TO’s tourney progresses toward a winner.
“If 600 people pay $5 to enter a tournament, and there’s a $200 cash prize, then the net is $2,800—a 1,400% return on investment,” Davis said. Most of that money goes directly to the TO, with the platform taking a small percentage to generate revenue.
“We’re a turnkey solution, where gamers can easily host tournaments with global reach, allowing them to make money and build their brand. Additionally, there are built-in tools to allow advertisers to sponsor tournaments, which provide additional revenue streams for TOs,” Davis said, noting that the platform already has over 100,000 users and operates in over 40 countries.
Davis says that Hyperluxe Gaming is the first and only minority-owned eSports company in the state of Mississippi and that he’s extremely motivated to promote entrepreneurship among people of color. Through Hyperluxe, he plans to offer eSports “scholarships” that help young people build an eSports brand and monetize it on the service. He says his mother and grandmother inspired him to his success—and to give back—because he saw how consistently they focused on helping other people in their families and community.
Davis says that working with Innovate Mississippi has given him valuable insight into the venture capital community in Mississippi and that he’s encouraged by the high-tech entrepreneurial ecosystem he’s been introduced to through this venture. He said he appreciated Innovate Mississippi helping him get the company listed on Crunchbase, which has resulted in a good deal of interest nationally.
While we’ve seen companies such as Hyperluxe acquired by larger corporations, Davis said that he’s never built a company just to exit. As of now, he’s completely focused on growing and nurturing the Hyperluxe Gaming community that he’s created. “We see this as just the beginning of what Hyperluxe can become, “he said. “With the continued growth of eSports, more advertisers will want to enter the space—more partnership opportunities will exist. We see ourselves as being early and well-positioned for continued growth in the entire gaming and VR space, both as a social and advertising platform.”
“It’s important to us to create a platform for all gamers and everybody. We’re open to all people, however they see themselves,” he said, noting that in Q4 of 2020, Hyperluxe became one of the few eSports companies to hold a non-binary LGBTQ eSports tournament.
“We want all people to feel comfortable and safe at Hyperluxe, in a space free of discrimination and inclusive to every race, nationality and sexual identification.”
He also credits his investors for their vision and support and his team for making that vision a reality. “We’re very fortunate as a startup in Mississippi to be nine months old and have had the success we’ve had,” Davis said. “I can’t stress enough how amazing our team is. They’re capable and intelligent… I’ve never had a team this strong before.”