The History and the Team Behind FiPME: Interview with Founders, Part 1
Lately, we’ve been writing a lot about the gaming industry and its prospects as well as about our own exchange and its role in the space. But what we haven’t done so far is tell you who we are! And since our supporters are from different parts of the world and we can’t meet each of them in person, we believe we need to make up for the lack of human connection and bring in more personal touch in our publications.
That’s why today, we will lead you behind the scenes of what’s happening at FiPME and share with you the first part of an interview with our Founders, Boris and Stefan. In this part, they’ll tell you how FiPME was conceived and who stands behind it as well as why they believe in its success. Enjoy reading and let us know if you have more questions: we can answer them in the next part of the interview!
1) First, let’s start with some background information about our Founders:
FiPME was founded in 2017 by Boris Obodda and Stefan Kaemper who both devoted their lives to commodity trading and gaming and lately decided to put all their effort into merging the best of these two worlds at the FiPME exchange.
Boris Obodda, Co-Founder & Managing Partner at FiPME:
Boris has been a broker for foreign exchange and government bonds for many years in Germany, England, and the Czech Republic. In particular, he was a bookrunner at Germany’s 3rd biggest utility exchange while also spending a lion’s share of his time playing video games — WoW in particular — as one of his lifetime passions. In fact, he lived both exchange trading and gaming since its pre-online and pre-electronic times. He’s seen it all develop and now, together with Stefan and the rest of the team, he’s poised to use this extensive experience to steer the gaming industry in a direction of higher efficiency — and more fun for all!
Stefan Kaemper, Co-Founder & Managing Partner at FiPME:
Throughout his life, Stefan has been an Investment Manager in Hedge Funds and the Investment industry across Germany, Switzerland, and Ireland. He developed various trading system from scratch and was a Head of Technical Trading for an investment boutique responsible for the largest turnover at one of the biggest European exchanges, EUREX, which talks volume about his expertise in the space. He was also keen of video games back in his younger years and as his kids grew older, he started playing games with them and this passion took over again.
2) How did you guys meet and decide to start the project together?
Stefan: Boris and I met at Oktoberfest in the late 90s and then worked together for an investment boutique in Zug and Gibraltar. At some point, we left the company, founded our own startup in electricity trading and sold it to an Asset Management Company. Later, Boris’ idea of an in-game item Exchange became the basis for FiPME. And as it lies on the intersection of what we’re both passionate about — trading and gaming — building FiPME is our next big goal in life!
3) How did you come up with the concept of FiPME?
Boris: This story is actually pretty funny and traces back to the peak of my gaming experience.
Back in 2006 there was a period when all I did was playing MMORPGs so I obtained a lot of ingame currency in one of the games. At some point, one of my friends told me I could actually sell those coins for real money — an idea which looked doubtful but attractive to me given that I was spending all my time playing yet it brought me zero income. I checked eBay and indeed my coins were trading there for 79 EUR per item. I thought this must have been a joke and put one on sale for 39 EUR — which seemed more like a “real” value for a coin to me. It was bought immediately. „Okay, I just got lucky..“ — I thought and tried it once again. And yet again it was bought in an instant. That’s when I realized: “the virtual stuff“ actually has a tangible value and people are willing to pay real money for it!
Later on, another idea stroke me when I was running a bigger raiding community in another game. Every day, our raid would start at 19:00 but one of our team members would always run late and ask me: “Boris, could you share some potions and scrolls with me as I couldn’t allow time to get them on my own?“. Of course, I had some of those items and could share them, but…I actually did not like that while I was investing all my time in preparing for those raids and collecting ingame items, he was working at a “real job” where he got paid and then was piggybacking on my ingame efforts and asking for my hard-earned items. If I’m giving him a piece of the time I invested in gaming, why doesn’t he give me back a piece of was he invested his time in? Eventually, we both spend time to provide value to other people, so why is he paid and I am not? That’s how I came to the idea of ingame services trading — e.g. going on a quest together or teaching others to play for money — which has really risen in demand since then and is now a lucrative industry with higher growth rates than those in the ingame items market!
As both of those ideas seem fair to me and thousands of other gamers who spend the vast majority of their time playing, FiPME’s aim is to support both of these trading schemes on a single two-way exchange — something, no other platform currently allows.
4) What makes you more capable of building this project than your potential competitors?
Boris: Each of us has an outstanding track record and a network of useful contacts in both gaming and exchange trading worlds. And what’s important to note — we also have a successful experience of building a startup together and it’s taught us what one can’t learn from books.
Before selling it to an Asset Management Company, we went through all sorts of challenges — like when one of our key partner went bankrupt and defaulted on his liabilities, prompting us to work out the situation on our own under a tight budget and time pressure. Eventually, this startup was viable, but what’s most important — we learned a lot from our mistakes and acquired the knowledge of potential pitfalls along the way of not only building a commodity exchange but also creating a flexible organizational structure that would endure and deliver results.
Stefan: Furthermore, each of us spent 15 years in trading — and failing lies at the very core of it. Say, you had a bad losing day or position and lost lots of money, yet you need to stay mentally healthy, reflect on what you did wrong, and have the courage to come back stronger the next day — but this time, do it right. This teaches you to make pivots fast and never despair whatever comes your way — the qualities which are both indispensable when building a startup.
So overall, we believe we have a great mix of skills that make us stand out from the crowd of our potential competitors, who mostly have a one-sided view of the topic and often possess no previous experience of building startups. This is a substantial base for FiPME to rise high and we’re sure it’ll be key to our success.
5) Why do you think now it’s the best moment to launch the project?
Stefan: Online gaming has become a mature market these days and it contains all the crucial components for our product to be successful in a long-run: it is lively and volatile and there’s an ever-growing number of participants all of whom need to interact with each other in a more efficient way than currently possible:
1) Gamers, publishers, and eSport Teams are all looking to benefit from trading but lack infrastructure for that;
2) Gamers want to reach a better gaming experience and need easy access to trading ingame items and services which is, again, lacking;
3) Game producers are looking for better markets where they can fund and promote their games and ingame content. FiPME offers them a mighty tool to find out the best price for offering an ingame item and reach positive results for all: more happy gamers (customers) and more turnover.
4) ESport Teams want to sell rare items and training but need a professional market and better tools to do that.
Now we have a chance to be the first to answer their growing demand with our unique product and solve all these problems.
Boris: What’s more, lately we’ve seen a paradigm shift in the gaming community: 5–10 years ago everyone separated the ingame world and the real money, but these walls are torn down now. Today, the majority of the gaming community — as well as the world beyond it — has acknowledged that gamers’ efforts in the virtual worlds have a real value — and thus a real monetary cost. And it’s time to give them the tools to claim this cost through a two-way exchange crafted specifically for the gaming industry: FiPME.
… To be continued with more insights into FiPME’s current stage of development and our future plans soon. Stay tuned!
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by the author.