How a Korean Runs a Gaming Startup in India

It is hard to imagine that a Korean can run his startup in India. But it is true. Chris (Joomin) Lee who is running his own gaming company called Funizen Solutions in India, is one of the few who have left their homecountry to run a company in India. Funizen Solutions is the only multiplayer online game publisher in India.

It is hard to imagine that a Korean can run his startup in India. But it is true. Chris (Joomin) Lee who is running his own gaming company called Funizen Solutions in India, is one of the few who have left their homecountry to run a company in India. Funizen Solutions is the only multiplayer online game publisher in India.

Here are the excerpts from the interaction we’ve had with Chris:

Q. What is Funizen?

Established in 2008, Funizen is the only online game publisher in the country. Their game, Elsword India (www.elsword.in), is a multiplayer online game (MO) that attracts internet users from across the country. The genre itself is renowned for creating fascinating virtual worlds where players can chat, build teams or hunt and wage wars against one another.

Apart from publishing Elsword India, Funizen runs the largest payment site- Gamemela (www.gamemela.com), in India that provides E-Pins for Global Online games. Thus, making E-Pins easily accessible to Indian gamers and countering the issue of gamers having to pay with their Indian debit or credit cards. Funizen buys these E-Pins as a wholesaler and sells it to gaming cafés and to individual gamers. This has resulted in about 100,000 gamers in the Funizen network and has also created an alternate channel of revenue for the gaming cafés. Currently there are over 3,500 i-cafes across India and Funizen’s eco-system covers many MNC H/W companies such as Coolermaster, Gigabyte and Western Digital.

Funizen is headquartered in Chennai with sales offices in Bangalore and Mumbai. With over 70 staff comprising sales, publishing and service teams spread across 7 metros, the company aims to propel the world of online gaming in India to the next level.

Q. How do you plan to transform the gaming in India?

All of game companies in India, whether they are PC game companies or smartphone game developers, are talking about contents. But, our approach is different. In India, platform comes first and content follows. Even a great game can’t be successful if only few people know about it or can pay for play. Funizen started building platform as iCafe networks, and e-pin payment channel before starting game business. With firm position and broad networks and partnership, Funizen only has to bring more and more contents. This approach is also same to smartphone. Funizen is making an app as smartphone game platform, and with Gamemela on PC, Funizen will provide single account for integrated game experience.

Q. What is your target to reach the mass market? 

Our target group is from early teens to middle of twenties. They have high purchasing power and insensitive to the prices, if they like it. They follow trends and have peer pressure.

With easy access to Internet, they are also the source of words of mouth. Their interests and preference are global. They watch the U.S TV series, and eat at fast food restaurant. They are active and take large portion of whole population. We are sure that they will be a driving power to lead the mass market.


Q.
What makes you believe that you would be able to turn cybercafes into gaming cafes since the mobile gaming is a biggest challenge at this stage?

Think about FlipKart or SnapDeal. Are they PC e-commerce company or smartphone e-commerce company? You know this is meaningless, right? Game is same. PC game, or even Cyber café does not compete against smartphone. Image that cyber café becomes a parlour to buy smartphone game e-pins. Or think it in this way. With famous smartphone games, more old generations and parents change their thought about game. More and more young generations experience game and decide to be game developers. PC game and smartphone game may compete again when the market is saturated, but in India in nascent stage of the game business, there are higher possibilities that both help each other.

Q. Where do you like bet more on -small cities or big ones?

Each city has con and pros. Big metros have potential. They have more population and media to talk about games. They have more cyber cafes and higher purchasing power. However, they have more options to play. They can go to many shopping malls, amusement parks, and others. Meanwhile, without many alternatives, cyber café owners and students in small cities are passionate. E-pin sales in small cities are not less than big ones. For us, both of them are precious market.

Q. Are you also expanding your presence beyond the cyber cafes? 

Yes, we are planning it. Cyber café is just the first step to build our brand and position. Very soon, we will expand our networks to smartphone shops, too. Our e-pin will be sold both at Cyber café and at Smartphone shops, giving the margin to the owners. Whether it’s PC game or smartphone game, our members will enjoy it with single account and payment. We will be the unique platform for game business in India.

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