Interview with young entrepreneur David Merry
Cristian: Hi David and welcome. You’re a young entrepreneur that started an online business. What is it about?
David: Hi Christian, thanks for giving me the interview opportunity! CastleCasino.com is an online live casino which provides over 60 games, both for free and real-money. The mission behind the business was to create an online experience which is as close to the real life thing as possible, it has been an arduous task but we are definitely getting there!
Cristian: What makes yours different? Are there any special ingredients?
David: Yes, we have plenty of special ingredients! Our table games (roulette, blackjack and baccarat) are all streamed live with real dealers, 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, from a television studio. Players can do anything from tip the dealers, to talk with them about how their days were. It makes the experience a lot more real for the player and brings in a new dimension.
We’re also using the only live casino provider offering which broadcasts roulette from both a studio and a real casino (The Sporting Emporium, Dublin) – which gives us another different angle for players.
Cristian: Who is your typical customer?
David: Our typical customer is generally a male between the ages of 25-35 with a small disposable income. I think that being a young company definitely helps us identify and relate to our the needs and wants of our players.
Cristian: And what are the most appreciated games?
David: Roulette is by a long way the most appreciated game at CastleCasino.com, following that I’d say blackjack and then the video poker and slot machines. It is not too dissimilar from my experiences in real casinos.
Cristian: Previously you have worked for a SEO company? How did you decide to take life in your own hands and start your own business?
David: It definitely wasn’t an overnight decision, founding a successful business and making money is something which I’ve strived to do ever since I can remember. I still remember the days of buying a little Cadbury’s chocolate dispenser with my paper round money then charging my brothers and sisters and making a profit. Even when I finishing school I was buying and selling domains to get extra cash to go out with while working as a carpenters apprentice – crazy times!
I think the turning point for me was when I realised that the income I was getting in wasn’t just luck, it was constant and higher than my full-time salary. I was also waking up at 5AM and going to bed at 2AM just to fit in enough time to work on my projects, which wasn’t healthy. I came into the office one day after considering it the night before and then just decided to hand in my notice and go for it full throttle, all or nothing. I love working on my own projects and with the greatest respect to my old SEO Company, who helped me out a lot and I still regularly meet with, I wasn’t happy there because I wanted more.
Cristian: How old were you when you started the biz?
David: I was 20 when I started buying casino related domains and the plans for both businesses were realised and written, although by the time it was all complete and officially launched I was mid-way through being 21.
In fact, one of my strongest memories was on my 21st birthday; I got an email from my investor while I was celebrating with my friends in a bar saying that the funds for the purchase of the CastleCasino.com domain had been released. I remember it hitting me at that moment that this was actually going ahead and I couldn’t turn back!
Cristian: What does it take to start an online business nowadays? An innovative idea? Long work hours? Specialized know-how?
David: I’d say a combination of all three! The thing I love about being involved online is that a marketing budget can only get you so far, with enough work the small guys can challenge the mammoths. I’d say one of the biggest factors in our success has simply been predictions on how the market is going to go and the flexibility we have in developing in that direction. We can get 5 sites live by the time some of the larger companies have scheduled a meeting to discuss starting a future project.
Cristian: How did you get legal advice? Legal advice is expensive for start-ups that’s why I ask.
David: I’ve been quite fortunate in this area, not only do I have a number of people within the legal area in my family, but I’ve got a great company in the form of Visionary iGaming, who power the main software, standing beside me and always helping with when potential legal issues arise.
Cristian: A little after starting your first business, you started a second one. What is that about?
David: Right Casino Media is in short a company which provides online advertising solutions for online casinos, which is why it ties in great with CastleCasino.com.
It all started in the live industry with liveroulette.co.uk, and nowadays has around 10 large sites, 50 small sites and 100’s of domains. The wheels which set Right Casino Media going actually started before CastleCasino.com and ultimately generated the entire idea behind it. Although I didn’t consider it a full-time business operation until I looked into advertising solutions for CastleCasino.com and realised the costs and efforts of others could be replicated, at which point I got my brother and good friend Michael Charalambous in too help it grow into its own entity. Neither company would be around today if it weren’t for each other and I’m glad it panned out that way.
Cristian: You’re also work with affiliates. What exactly are affiliates?
David: Yes I am both an affiliate, with Right Casino Media, and work directly with affiliates with CastleCasino.com. An affiliate is someone who promotes a product or service to potential customers, in exchange for a commission on the sale when one occurs.
The simplest example in the casino world would be if you built a website and then put one of the CastleCasino.com adverts on it, anyone who came to your site and then clicked through to CastleCasino.com from the advert would be tracked and marked in our system as your player. We would either pay you a one-off fee for that player or you could take the option of making 35% of what that player lost at the casino. It is a lucrative market in the casino world, especially when players lose 1000’s in one night!
Cristian: Could they work for any type of business?
David: Yes the affiliate world can work for nearly any type of online business; the beauty of the affiliate industry is that it only works when both partners deliver results, so neither can end up out of pocket. There are affiliate programs for electrical; dating sites, kitchen appliances, cups, food, hair dye… you get the picture! Nearly anything which can be sold has an affiliate program.
Cristian: What is most important when working with affiliates?
David: I think the most important thing when working with affiliates definitely understanding that it has to be a partnership to work at 100% capacity. A lot of merchants (the side which sells the product) treat affiliates simply as casual advertisers; simply because if they don’t sell they don’t pay.
A true merchant provides them with the right materials to market their products, will always pay affiliates on time and fairly and will always work on improving their site to convert customers further. Helping an affiliate help you is crucial in my opinion.
Cristian: Any big mistakes you did and could advice other young entrepreneurs how to avoid?
David: As a young entrepreneur my advice would be don’t get carried away with your previous successes and keep your feet on the ground. After one success I felt like a maverick which could take the world with my eyes closed, but you quickly realise after losing money that it is not the case.
I became involved with the formation of a building company, a fireworks company and also a leisure company which specialised in physical slot machines. These ate months out of my schedule and in the end I overstretched myself trying to juggle everything and literally couldn’t sleep at night for a period. I had to let a lot of people down and leave the opportunities which I’d created on the table, something I’d never done previously. This enabled me to focus on what I have now and continue growing Right Casino Media and CastleCasino.com – something I am very glad I did in the end!
Cristian: Any plans for the future?
David: I’m enjoying working at expanding the companies at the moment and don’t really see myself anywhere different in the next 5 years. I’d love to be retired from full-time business by the time I’m 30 and purely be an investor of some sorts living in the Cayman Islands, as always, I’m thinking big!