Throughout 2018, esports merchandising company We Are Nations steadily added to its roster of partners. Now, in early 2019, it’s producing clothing and merchandise for some of the biggest organisations in the industry.
Some of the company’s recent – and most popular – additions include Riot Games’ LCS, North American organisation OpTic Gaming, and RFRSH Entertainment’s BLAST Pro Series. It doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon either, with plans to expand in a big way this year.
How has We Are Nations managed to secure these deals and how did the business come to be? We spoke to Patrick Mahoney, Co-founder of We Are Nations to dig into the background of the company, its recent partnerships, and its future.
Esports Insider: The company’s founding partners don’t have commercial backgrounds in esports, so why have you chosen to work in this specific industry?
Patrick Mahoney: Our background is in music merchandise. As we looked at esports, we began to see many parallels between gamers and our music merchandise customers. We also knew we wanted to be a part of esports because it’s exciting, dynamic, growing and still an uncharted business territory – all things we find amazing to work in and with.
Since we have the merchandise knowledge and global scale, we wanted to apply to something new, but comparable. It’s been great as the founders, building a team full of endemic knowledge and learning from each other. We couldn’t be happier with our start in esports and we’re eager to move forward with the industry as it expands.
ESI: The section of esports apparel is occupied by quite a few different companies, what does We Are Nations offer to teams that competitors don’t (or can’t)?
PM: Because of our backgrounds in music, entertainment and sports merchandising, we had a turnkey solution. We see esports merchandising as very similar to any other sports merchandising and are excited to help build on this.
“Because of our backgrounds in music, entertainment and sports merchandising, we had a turnkey solution”
We are creating a very broad multi sales channel network and in addition to teams, tournaments and leagues, we would love to collaborate, invest and/or otherwise work with any esports brands bringing unique ideas to the table. Right now we’re exploring every opportunity and taking every meeting.
ESI: Does the partnership with Riot Games for the LCS mean there’s potential to work with its other leagues too?
PM: We think league play brings a lot of value to the table for everyone, not just merchandise. But for merchandise specifically, working with leagues helps frame and aggregate teams together to create economies of scale and common stories, which will directly help sales.
Also, live events are a great place to sell merchandise and we are doing that as much as we can.
ESI: What’s your criteria for choosing organisations that you end up partnering with to manage and produce apparel?
PM: In addition to the usual metrics, performance, reach, results, etc., we are drawn to brands with unique character and global appeal. We are also in the process of developing ways to reach amateur teams, college and high school teams seeking custom apparel merchandise.
“We are also in the process of developing ways to reach amateur teams, college and high school teams seeking custom apparel merchandise”
In addition to our main US base, we have subsidiary companies in the UK, Belgium and Australia to better service the international needs of our clients.
ESI: Are there any challenges you’ve encountered that you didn’t expect when first entering the industry?
PM: There are always business challenges but the industry specific challenges have been really enjoyable. As we’ve solved these problems, the opportunities and people we’ve met on the other side have been incredibly rewarding. Nations has been really welcomed into the esports industry and we’re excited to see what the next chapter is.
ESI: What’s your ultimate goal with We Are Nations?
PM: Timing is everything. We want to take our years of experience, our incredible endemic team and help build an industry. We’re ready for the challenges ahead as we continue to grow our client base, and become a dominant force in esports merchandise.