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  • Kris Chng

Battle Mode On: Singapore’s First Esports Arena Aims To Empower Gamers

Updated: Nov 1, 2023

The Bountie Team (from left) - Kelvin Ong, Desmond Tan and Check Ho.

Esports, also known as electronic sports, describes an organised sport in the form of video games. No longer just a hobby, the world of competitive video gaming is an explosive and lucrative international phenomenon with fans worldwide. By taking part in tournaments, casual gamers can not only turn into superstars but also monetise their gaming abilities.

If you are still doubtful of it being a professional sport,well esports made its debut as a medal sport at the recent 2019 SEA Games. Enough said.

Riding on this exponential growth in the epsorts industry, Bountie Arena, Singapore’s largest and only esports arena, was founded by a team of 4 passionate and brilliant minds who are in their early 30s. Started in September 2019, this gaming technology company's mission is to change the indolent perception of gaming and to empower gamers to make a living out of their skills.

I head to their impressive 6,600 sqf premises located at Fusionopolis and had an insightful chat with Desmond Tan, Chief Business Development Officer, and Kelvin Ong, Business Development Manager.


So, how does your business model stay competitive?

We have three core businesses - Bountie Platform, an online platform for gamers to take part in or organise tournaments, Bountie Tokens, our cryptocurrency element, and Bountie Esports Arena.

Bountie Esports Arena has a total of 110 high specifications computers, 5 soft tip darts machine, console games with 1400 selection, a multi-purpose stage and an arena to fit about 150pax. Being in the heart of the ‘Silicon Valley’ of Singapore, we offer a unique value proposition to the corporate and gaming communities. Other than handling the day to day walk in customers who will be engaged in our varies gaming options, we list ourselves as a space for corporate and social event bookings on several venue booking platform. This diversity gives us a balance of having gaming and events revenue.

Throughout our 5 months of operations we have worked with many corporate brands such as Oracle, P&G, GSK, Asus, Starhub, Prudential, YahooTV and Nutonomy!

What do you think convinced investors to invest in your business?

Right from the get-go, our concept is unique and new to the region. There are many LAN cafes and online platforms that exist independently, but we envision ours to connect gamers through our online platform to our offline gaming arena.

We believe this unique O2O ( Online-To-Offline) concept is what sets us apart and convinced our investors to back us.

Apart from that, the team is another important reason. Throughout this period we have managed to assembled what I believe to be an all-star team - which makes up of Lex Na, Check Ho, Kliff Chan and myself. All of us brings different skill sets to the table that complement well with each other.

Many businesses underestimate the importance of a cohesive team. With 4 founders, did Bountie face any leadership challenges?

That’s a great question! Although we are not a unicorn yet, but similar to some of the notable start-ups out there, Bountie growth was not a bed of roses. Within the core team right now, only Lex was part of the original founding team. The others have moved on to their own personal endeavours.

Despite that, through the outstanding leadership and perseverance of Lex I’m glad that we have held up and remain steadfast to the company’s vision of building an ecosystem to benefit the global gamers community.

What is the biggest lesson learned on this entrepreneur journey?

Corporate bureaucracy and governance within a company must be airtight. Everything should be recorded in black and white, from emails to contract to even WhatsApp messages. When the business grows and there are bigger interests at stake, there will bound to be conflicts of interest and disputes if T&Cs are not documented properly.

What is your vision for the esports industry?

Gaming is akin to music; it is a tool for cross cultural and cross borders interaction. It does not discriminate race, language or religion. Gamers might come from different walks of life but as long as they speak the language of games. It connects them immediately.

I would like to see the esports industry continue its current growth trajectory and transform into a globally accepted sport. One that is accepted by all age, gender and cultural. And I wish for Bountie to be a huge contributor towards this trend. On a side note, I am glad to see the embracement of gaming and esports happening in Singapore as well. Over the last 3 years we have witnessed increasing recognition and support from the government and big corporations. 2020 will be an important year for Singapore in terms of esports and gaming. I am very hopeful for this year!  

What is your advice to those who want to pursue a career in the esports industry?

Get your hands dirty and start doing something about it. Be it as a professional player, a team manager, an event organiser, a coach; identity which sector you want to pursue and go for it.


As we came to the end of the interview, Desmond imparted some life advice that has guided him in his entrepreneurial journey.

“Back in my Secondary school days, this tuckshop auntie once told me ‘满招损 谦受益’. It means arrogance begets trouble and humility begets benefits. This had stuck with me since."

He continues, "When I was in my twenties, a mentor taught me the meaning of  ‘先做人, 后做事’. Gain trust before you gain success. In my late twenties, I learned ‘得人心者得天下’ from the Romance of the Three Kingdom, which translates to ‘the first step to conquering the world starts from conquering the peoples' hearts".

Such wisdom and humility from this young man!

If you want to support the local esports industry, gather your friends and hang out at Bountie Esports Arena !


Stay tuned for more inspirational stories on local entrepreneurs and businesses!

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