As part of our series of interviews with influencers and executives in the Bitcoin and cryptocurrency gambling world we recently had the pleasure to talk with Nick Garner. Nick is an entrepreneur, founder of Oshi Bitcoin Casino and investor in various businesses. He was previously SEO manager for Betfair and then head of search for Unibet, then founding 90 Digital before going on to launch Oshi casino. Nick is a well respected person in the iGaming industry and we are very honored he could free up some time in his busy agenda to speak with us. By the way, of you're looking for part 1 with Phil Nagy you can find that here.
Who is Nick Garner? Please tell us something about your background.
I originally came from Ireland and moved to London to train in kayak racing so I can get selected for the World Championships. In the end I raced in 4 World Championships and my highest global ranking was 11th.
I started getting involved with online marketing around 1999. And around 2003, I made a decision to focus on search engine optimisation which led me to being a senior manager for Betfair in 2006. I became head of search for Unibet in 2010 and in 2012, I founded 90 digital, an iGaming marketing agency, which I subsequently sold and then founded Oshi.
How and when did you come up with the idea for Oshi?
In my iGaming marketing agency, we had three different crypto casinos as clients. They all wanted to rank on organic search and that’s how we helped them. Looking at these brands and this emergent ecosystem, I just thought something very interesting was going on.
Whenever there is a new enabling technology, along with it comes opportunity. In this case money for the internet i.e. crypto currency was starting to come through and since people have an innate disposition to gamble, it just made sense they would gamble in crypto currency.
Seeing these other crypto operators as clients, having mainstream operators as other clients and having worked in large operators through the previous six years, I just thought it was worth having a go at launching a crypto casino.
What’s the story behind the name Oshi?
Satoshi Nakamoto… The pseudonym for the group of developers who apparently founded bitcoin. The ‘Oshi’ bit of the name sounded Japanese and the .IO domain was available.
I also didn’t want to use another standard crypto gambling name like ‘bitwincasino’ or whatever. I figured Oshi should be its own thing and not follow the same mould as all the other casinos out there.
How does an average working day look as Oshi founder?
I’m lucky enough to have a really good office setup. I’ve got my fancy office chair, my electric desk so I can raise it – lower it and a triple monitor setup, so if you’re a geek you might even give me kudos points . These days I typically start work at around 7 AM and finish at around 7 PM.
All the support emails get routed into my inbox, so I keep a close eye on player issues. From those issues I can identify problems that need fixing, help I can give customer services, ideas for new player incentives or whatever.
I also spend a lot of my time analysing data. I’ve learnt to be very comfortable with fairly complex Excel spreadsheets so it gives me a lot of insight into what players want, which bonuses are working, which affiliates are doing well with Oshi and so on. Generally afternoons are for meetings and projects.
Overall I’m very obsessed with structure, systems and processes so I can be productive. And I do my best to work with the whole team in this way so we can all deliver results.
How do you unwind from a busy day at the office?
I still compete in kayaking so I train between four and five times a week and I’m also the vice commodore for my canoe club which is the largest club in the UK by membership numbers. And I’m really into motorbikes. I have three of them at the moment. And I’m enough to be happily married with a wonderful wife and two children.
What is driving you? What motivates you?
I want Oshi to be one of the great crypto casinos the players universally love.
Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader? Why and how did this person impact your life?
There are a few people/sources:
Jeff Bezos: for his pragmatism, vision and application to see Amazon go this far.
The 22 immutable laws of marketing from Al Reis/Jack Trout: This book was an epiphany. I realised that marketing follows certain rules that are absolutely consistent. When you understand those rules, marketing strategy gets very easy.
Good to great from Jim Collins: on reading this book, I finally understood that success is a process and can be measured beyond the bottom line. Jim is a professor in Harvard university and did a huge study across thousands of businesses looking for consistent characteristics of the winners. I.e. disciplined people, disciplined thought and disciplined action.
How do you differentiate Oshi.io from your competitors?
We avoid referencing ourselves against competitors, because when you go down that road you become like your competitors. Of course, whatever happens we're still an online casino with slots games, but within that narrow band of differentiation we’ve got:
- a unique game search engine, for navigating through our 2500+ games
- instant preview of games
- random daily reload bonuses
- an unusually good mobile platform
Unique features are all good, but what I learnt in earlier days was that out and out innovation is difficult to get right and generally a failure. So in the last year we’ve really focused on making the essentials much better than ever before:
- fully mobile compatible
- easy depositing
- constantly improving customer service
- reducing the number of player issues to a minimum
- speeding up cash outs, so generally we can do them within 10 minutes
Looking back, what has been the highlight of last year?
The major highlight has been launching Oshi 2.0 where we completely rebuilt the website. We spend a lot of time building this new website and I’m happy to say players seem to really like Oshi 2.0. Nearly every metric on customer behaviour has improved since the relaunch. I finally feel that we have a solid platform from which we can develop Oshi and help more casino players enjoy a better experience.
What are your future plans for Oshi.io?
More players, more useful features on Oshi, faster cash outs, more creative bonuses… Just stuff that we hope players will love. (sorry if I sound player obsessed, but that’s because I am)
What and how was your first experience with cryptocurrency?
You may remember earlier I talked about my old marketing agency? It was around 2013 when we picked up our first crypto gambling client and that’s when I realised something big was going on with crypto i.e. money for the Internet. Even though it was only five years ago, it’s remarkable how crypto currency has evolved so quickly. Amazing times to be in.
And yes you’re probably wondering whether I accumulated a big stash of Bitcoin from the early days? I did accumulate some Bitcoin, but I’m not a Bitcoin millionaire.
What is your opinion about the current state of cryptocurrency?
You may remember I talk about ‘Internet money’, because to me that’s what crypto currency is. It’s a means of exchange. After the December 2017 spike/apocalypse with Bitcoin prices, it’s been great that crypto volatility has settled down and crypto can return to being a means of value exchange rather than some kind of speculative investment vehicle.
The whole Bitcoin bubble and crash feels very like 2000 with the .com bubble and crash. In that aftermath, the smart money stuck around, the Internet reformed itself and became fundamental to our society today. I believe crypto currency is going through the same cycle.
What is your favorite cryptocurrency? Can you explain why?
That’s a big question, but broadly it’s Etherium because it’s such a malleable means of value exchange. From that we’ve had a plethora of ICO’s (probably not such a good thing) and from this, we’ve now got thousands of currencies. By law of averages some of these are going to shape our future.
One token I find very interesting are OPskins WAX tokens which enable game skin trading. I.e. if you play CS:GO you might ‘skin’ a gun and make it red. These skins have a tradable value and underpinning them is essentially crypto currency. In other words it’s crypto money, yet skins owners don’t even think about these items being a currency. They just think: “I’ve got a red gun, purple shield”or whatever.
How do you see cryptocurrency in 5 years?
It’s very hard to predict, but:
- I do think Bitcoin will be around as well the other major currencies we see today.
- I don’t think crypto currency will have the mainstream adoption many advocates hope for. However crypto will become ‘Internet money’ and very valuable for people in countries where the existing banking system is inefficient and expensive. I.e. Venezuela
- On a broader view, the Internet enables disintermediation (getting rid of middle people) and block chain creates efficiency and trustless exchange of value. When you combine these factors, it will probably mean much more liquidity for things that are hard to sell today because intermediaries have to be involved i.e. real estate, big-ticket items and so on.
and people will still gamble… So I expect Oshi will still be there.
Is there anything else you would love to share with us?
Yes…dear reader, I just want to say thank you for getting this far in the Q&A. It’s been an interesting journey down memory lane. Hopefully you’ll check out Oshi and maybe even register.
Many thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer our questions. We only have one last question left. Where can we find Oshi?