profile-slantSerial tech entrepreneur Gavin Weeks has a history of developing successful web platforms, pioneering the way in esports and tournament gaming. We caught up with him to learn more about his expansive body of work, and why he’s convinced Bath is the place to be.

TechSPARK: Gavin, tell us a little about your background.

Gavin Weeks: I’ve been a web designer and developer for 15 years, but I was initially discouraged from taking up this whole ‘internet’ thing – as my college lecturers regularly told me, “it’ll never last”. I’ve also been a gamer for as long as I can remember, owning a Spectrum 48k and learning to code and build sprites to make games from an early age.

I studied multimedia design at Huddersfield Uni, which turned out to be a total waste of time, as were most uni courses at the turn of the millennium. I was already freelancing at that point and knew far more than my lecturers. They were hellbent on teaching everyone Flash, which was not something I was interested in as I wasn’t keen on its inflexibility and lack of precision as a web platform.

“I was initially discouraged from taking up this whole ‘internet’ thing – as my college lecturers regularly told me, ‘it’ll never last’”


I made a point of focusing on content-driven platforms, and of course design and front-end development, as I felt – without really knowing it – that content was the way forward. It was always going to be about content consumption.

I spent a lot of time with gaming as a hobby and web design/development as a career, working with various small companies over the years and of course doing a stint at Future Publishing, which is standard practice for those in the Bath/Bristol area.

It’s only in the last few years that I decided to throw away the full time rat race of web development for other people and focused solely on building stuff for myself and creating a few startups as a result.



TS: What are your biggest successes to date?

GW: I would say my biggest success to date would be the acquisition of my first real product, Jowst – a platform allowing users to create and compete in tournaments on their favourite games, for fun or for prize money.

I wanted to keep the company and product based in the Bath area, but there was little interest from local venture capitalists and angels. I would imagine this was due to a lack of understanding of the gaming world, and more specifically its competitive angle. Competitive gaming is growing massively, with billions of dollars being invested in all areas, so it’s a shame we couldn’t get a slice of that in Bath.

“Competitive gaming is growing massively, with billions of dollars being invested in all areas”


Good news followed just days after one Bath-based VC felt there was no value in the industry; Jowst was acquired by Los Angeles-based Xfire, a gaming company which sold for over $100m in 2006 and incorporated a large communication tool with around 22 million users. Competitive gaming was the direction in which they wanted to move and, like myself, they felt there was a Grand Canyon-sized gap in the market for offering this service.

On a side note, Jowst was nominated for ‘Startup To Watch’ in the 2013 Sparkies, which was about two weeks before the acquisition process began, so I feel they were my lucky charm, even if we didn’t win!

I would also count my latest startup Esportsify as a success… how big of one remains to be seen, however!



TS: Tell us a bit more about Esportsify.

GW: Esportsify is a website deployment tool, similar to Squarespace in concept but aimed specifically at esports, with professional, bespoke themes and features not available on other platforms. We currently have six staff and numerous outside contributors providing these themes and features. We only launched a month ago and already have over 2000 teams based on the platform, with a network reach of 250,000 users.

Another venture I’m currently working on is Noobicon, which is an esports coaching and training tool aimed at helping gamers become more professional by offering one-on-one professional coaching, curated content and bootcamp events. This is in development and should be launched in early 2015.

I am also still working on Jowst with Xfire, at which I am CCO. Although no longer known as Jowst, it’s now a massive product used by over 26 million users.



TS: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?

GW: I think the number one thing is not to rely on money-people getting involved; a lot of time was wasted during the development of Jowst where things were put on hold due to trying to secure some form of funding. Luckily I was able to source the cash from freelance work, but I was a little naive in thinking others, mainly VCs and angels, would have the same enthusiasm as I do for the industry.

“The platforms are expanding and I am keen to employ as many people as possible from the Bath area instead of sourcing from outside”


TS: Can people get involved with any of your projects? If so, how?
GW: Anyone can get involved in my projects; we’re looking for designers and developers, back-end and front. The platforms are expanding and I’m keen to employ as many people as possible from the Bath area instead of sourcing from outside.

TS: What advantages are there to being based in Bath?

GW: It’s a beautiful place to live; I don’t need to tell you just how much less stressful it is living here compared to places like London, where I was living for five years. There is also a massive amount of talent, which is great for such a compact region. It’s almost impossible not to meet people who might be interested in your business, regardless of what it is.

The only thing I hope that will evolve is the freelance/startup mentality and that talented developers/designers/business people realise just how much more fun and rewarding it is to work on a product that’s your own, instead of just hopping from product to product for a quick buck.

The area isn’t perfect, but it is getting there – fast!

Thanks to Gavin for taking the time to talk to us. You can follow Gavin @Flikq and @Esportsify for more.