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Above: “There are millions of different permutations of the controller you can create because of all the different colours, design and functionalities.“

even the company didn’t quite expect the explosion in eSports that came next. ESPORTS EXPANSION “Scuf has been a critical part of the growth of eSports,” Ironmonger says, and with good reason. “We’ve enabled gamers to have an enhanced experience gaming on console. And it actually means you can display more dexterity, which I’d argue is better for the game, and adds more skill.” The company also saw the benefits of investing back into the sport early on: “We helped grow that eSports scene. A lot of the money we made through selling products, we threw it back into the pro scene so they could travel, to sponsor teams, we really helped them get to the places they wanted to go in order to compete. “It’s authentic, we call ourselves a community company, we’re building products to improve the user experience, we’re sharing revenue with people through our affiliate code, which then gives consumers 5 per cent off. But then we also share revenue through sponsorships and affiliate commission. It works really well in today’s world of social media and that’s how we’ve evolved.” That community is also key to the evolution of the products themselves, Ironmonger explains: “Because we have so many people using the controller now, we naturally get a lot of feedback, which allows us to understand the areas that do and don’t work. Obviously products do occasionally break, we’ve got people playing eight hours a day on it, but we now know why it breaks. The robustness and the improvements we can make based on the feedback is essential to the evolution of our product and our company.”

MAKING IT REAL The company is evolving quickly, too, despite sticking to the same model that made it successful in the first place. “We handcraft all controllers in the US in our Atlanta office, about 150 people, and then in the UK, with around 50 people. You’ll put an order in as a customer, you’ll choose exactly how you want it to look, from colour to functionality, to design, everything. And then we’ll custom build that to your specification and then we’ll ship it out a week later from our facility.” We’re surprised that production hasn’t yet been offshored to China or Taiwan. “[This] business model works well doing on-shore production, because it’s customised, and so naturally one size doesn’t fit all.” But where do all the parts come from? Surely they’re made elsewhere? “Correct,” Ironmonger says. “We’ve got thousands of different pieces of inventory that we create. We manufacture some parts in the US, Taiwan, other parts of Asia, even in England. It’s a mix and match, depending on where’s the best place to do it.” BREXIT BLUES The US remains the key market for competitive gaming on console, but the company was still hit by Brexit. “[The exchange rate] definitely caused us some issues,” Ironmonger says. “You’re talking about a 15 per cent change, and most of our business is in the US and UK. I’m out in the US, and a lot of what we do from the corporate structure and the decisions we make come out of the US, because corporate and the board are all over here. With that being the case, the dominant part of the business is dollar-based, in terms of the American market being far bigger than the European market. So when the pound depreciated so aggressively after

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03/05/2017 16:36

Profile for Future PLC

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