iGF RoundTable, Part Two: Lessons in Success

Welcome back to, Part Two, of iGaming Future’s CEO Under 40 Roundtable.

In Part One, we got an exclusive insight into the rise of seven of iGaming’s most influential young leaders – and the key factors powering their commendable success.

In this second instalment, we’re talking about shared challenges in overcoming scepticism, navigating ‘survival’ mode, team building and creating a flexible company culture – as well as the most significant moments in their careers to date and, most importantly, the lessons learned.

This, we believe, is a rare opportunity to learn from an ambitious generation of C-suite leaders who are driving the iGaming industry and offers a golden insight into what it takes to make it to the top. 


Alex Lorimer, Chief Operating Officer, Gaming Corps

Giorgi Tsutskiridze, Chief Commercial Officer, Spribe

Alina Dandörfer, Co-founder and Director, Apparat Gaming

Troy Paul, Chief Executive Officer, SGG Media

David Mann, Chief Executive Officer, Swintt

Alex Iaroshenko, Chief Executive Officer, BETBAZAR

Chris Scicluna, CEO at Livespins

What standout challenges have you encountered along the way? And how were they overcome?

Chris Scicluna: “In my leadership journey, facing scepticism was a major challenge. Persistence and demonstrating results were key to converting that feeling of doubt into support.

“Striking a work-life balance has also demanded attention. 

“Establishing boundaries and effective time management were crucial to juggling professional and personal responsibilities. 

“Prioritising mental health has also been essential. In the demanding world of leadership, mental resilience is as important as physical health. Regular self-care practices have been vital to maintain this balance.

“These challenges have not only tested me but have also strengthened my leadership, teaching me the value of resilience, balance, and mental well-being.”

David Mann: “While my background in business development and sales made progressing to Chief Commercial Officer at Swintt quite linear, the step up to CEO was a big change for me. 

“Moving from CCO to CEO requires a shift in mindset and focus, as all areas of the business need to have an equal footing, and this requires more involvement, understanding and support from the team. 

“Thankfully, I already had a great relationship with my colleagues and a deep understanding of the company from my time at Swintt. I’d already played a big part in forming the culture and defining our business strategy. And this gave me a major head start over some of the external candidates.”

Alex Iaroshenko: “I don’t want to sound like I’m repeating myself, but getting the right configuration for our team really was an important challenge that we really needed to get right straight off the bat. 

“I think 15-20 different people passed through BETBAZAR before we settled on the team we now have, as we were trying to find the proper communication model and people who all shared the same values. 

“These days, we’re all connected by these values, and I think that’s one of the biggest challenges you have to overcome initially. It’s funny, because it might be a bit of an abstract concept. I wouldn’t say that we had problems with development or anything like that, but when you understand what you’re aiming for in the long-term with your team and your clients–not just in terms of money, but in terms of building relationships and developing something that lasts–, this makes your growth faster and easier.”

Troy Paul: “Like any young person entering an industry in their 20’s, I had to first establish a level of credibility. There were plenty of occasions, and there still are, where I’m negotiating with people twice my age who are vastly more experienced. At first, this seemed overwhelming, but I quickly realised that my age wasn’t relevant — but my product was.

“My background was not in sports betting, so this presented some challenges; but in the long run, it has been a huge blessing. Remaining grounded throughout those early years, learning from those around me, but also not being afraid to take on a challenge and not letting my age be an issue, has helped me mature into the role within the company.

“Of course, as a younger CEO working in social media, my age actually comes with some major advantages. I’m a digital native and have probably spent a lot more time on social media than most of the Legacy Executives I’ve met over the years.”

Alina Dandörfer: “The primary hurdle in managing a start-up is consistently navigating survival mode. Securing funding, assembling a team, validating the product in the market, scaling operations, assessing outcomes, and adjusting strategies are universal steps for any company.

“However, start-ups, such as Apparat Gaming, face the additional challenge of proving themselves against established competitors in a highly competitive, highly dynamic and, in particular, a partially unclear regulatory environment in the market.

“You must be able to scrutinise every decision so that it can be adjusted, if necessary. The entrepreneurial practices that were successful yesterday might not be the best option today.  

“Navigating this terrain is like finding a safe path on a waterlogged field. Each step needs thoughtful consideration and fast implementation.

“This constant scrutiny can be draining, emphasising the need for a team which questions variables, embraces criticism, fosters a culture of learning, and engages in constructive debates.  

“It’s vital to introduce an incremental approach in this phase of your business. It’s also really important to identify crucial survival variables, stay vigilant in the dynamic environment, and maintain adaptability.

“A company will be fit and healthy if it’s prepared for all kinds of diverse scenarios, and if it has established a buffer to navigate unforeseen challenges.  One of the biggest challenges for me was instilling a company-wide understanding of this approach and getting all processes and decisions to align with it.”

Alex Lorimer: “The biggest challenge has been doing this with an inexperienced team led by an inexperienced Chief Operating Officer. 

“We have now added more talent that brings its own experience. But, particularly at the start, it was very much a case of learning through mistakes. Every day brings its challenges, and I’ve been lucky enough to have surrounded myself with a senior management team that is just as hungry and ambitious as myself, which has been key to bridging that gap.

“We pride ourselves as a company on having always been agile, and even where we have fallen short on some occasions, we have always had this ability to pounce on opportunities that are brought to us and make it happen when others could not. A lot of our biggest products were born out of opportunities brought to me through people I had great relationships with as an account manager in the past. 

“It will be difficult to remain as flexible as we grow, but we build all our products and tech in a way that if a customer brings an opportunity, or wants branding or a reskin, it’s a minimal amount of work to create a premium product that they will push.”

Giorgi Tsutskiridze: “The greatest challenge has been the dynamic nature of the online gambling industry and the magnitude and speed at which the landscape changes. This requires individuals and companies to be agile and flexible and to keep pace with the latest trends. Of course, the best companies set the trends that others follow, and that is what SPRIBE has achieved with Aviator.

“For me, it all comes down to fostering a culture of adaptability within the team and within myself, as this ensures we are always ready to navigate and leverage unexpected changes. This includes regularly updating our strategies, embracing new technologies, and proactively seeking opportunities when there is even the slightest shift. 

“The ability to swiftly pivot and adjust our approach has proven to be essential in overcoming hurdles and ensuring sustained success in a fast-evolving environment, and the C-suite is ultimately what fosters this environment and ability within the organisation.”

What has been the most significant moment in your career to date? What did you learn from this moment?

Alex Iaroshenko: “I think the defining moment in BETBAZAR’s history was how we dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic. This was a challenging period for us, but one in which we grew immensely. I know there are a couple of companies who also experienced similar success during this time, but many more of them had a lot of losses. 

“I think the main thing I learned from the experience was the importance of being prepared for the unknown and doing your work beforehand. We already had a popular product, but we had to ensure it was delivered to each client on time at the moment that they needed it the most, and this was only possible because we were already having negotiations and conversations beforehand. It was an interesting experience and one that I come back to a lot. 

“Another thing I learnt during this period was the importance of not putting your work onto a potential partner’s shoulders. People in our industry are very busy at the best of times, so when there’s other stuff going on in the world, it’s vital that you do your research, understand exactly what products of yours should be interesting to them and come prepared with a ready-made decision, rather than asking them to figure it out for themselves.”

Giorgi Tsutskiridze: “There are many projects that I am incredibly proud of since joining SPRIBE, including our recent partnership with the UFC and champion fighter, Alex Pereira. We’ve also got a new product set to leave our production line in the coming weeks that I believe will be an absolute game-changer for the industry. 

“Outside of landing the Chief Commercial Officer role at SPRIBE, the most significant moment in my career has undoubtedly been launching my businesses, as nothing quite beats the thrill of entrepreneurship.”

David Mann: “I find it hard to pinpoint one single significant moment, but I do like to reflect and take learnings from what I’ve done, or been involved with. Of course, I could say joining Swintt was a significant moment as it ultimately led to me being where I am today, but it’s a vast point encompassing so many important events. 

“One big moment for Swintt as a company has been setting up a new platform and migrating – a task that’s universally known to be a major project. Going through the development, testing and upgrading of platform elements is packed with lessons, and it taught me to focus on the bigger picture during challenges and ensure the team’s vision stays aligned.”

Alex Lorimer: “The day an operator, for whom I was previously an account manager, came to me in early 2021 and asked if we could build them a crash game. In reality, Gaming Corps did not have a desirable product at that point; we had six very average slot games built by a very inexperienced team which were available in only a couple of markets. 

“But we were still able to turn a complex product around in a matter of months from scratch, and despite the lack of experience, this showed several key operators that if they wanted something a bit different, we had a team which could deliver quality in a very short space of time. 

“It was a bit of a domino effect from there, with opportunity after opportunity falling into line as we established our games with several market leaders, taking unique content into markets that hadn’t seen it before and, subsequently, many of the rest of the herd followed. 

“The biggest lesson I drew from this story is that, both in a personal and professional capacity, you should treat everyone as best you can and help people as much as possible because opportunities can sometimes present themselves if you are good to people.” 

Alina Dandörfer: “Adversity is inevitable, with each stumble and fall, especially the first, leaving its mark. Encountering various firsts–be it failed presentations, missed KPIs, or redundancy interviews– is part of the journey. Ultimately, the goal is to emerge from these experiences stronger, knowing that every effort was given to the best of one’s knowledge and belief and that every challenge is an opportunity to grow.”

Chris Scicluna: “There have been a number of pivotal moments in my career. But if I had to choose just one, then launching the real-time tournaments and developing the Livespins brand stand out the most. These initiatives marked significant milestones in the industry and were both exceptionally well-received.

“The key takeaway from these experiences was the importance of putting the player first. Understanding what players truly want, even beyond what they explicitly say, is crucial. It’s about feeling the pulse of the market and reading between the lines to grasp their needs and preferences. Then, you need to take that understanding and move forward with conviction to create something that resonates with them.

“These moments taught me that success in this industry isn’t just about innovative ideas or technical prowess; it’s deeply rooted in empathy and insight into the player’s experience. This player-centric approach has become a guiding principle in my career and has heavily influenced how I lead and make decisions.”

Troy Paul: “We’ve had many significant moments at SGG Media over the last few years, but the most memorable for me was securing our first client, FanDuel. As an entrepreneur, you must have a blind belief in yourself in the early days, and securing a deal with such a major client was a huge moment for us. And it was one that reaffirmed the belief we had in ourselves from the start.

“This deal gave us the confidence to move forward, paving the way for all of the other memorable moments that followed. On an entrepreneurial level and a personal one, that will always be a special moment for me.”

* In Part Three, coming next week, we’ll be looking to the future; what our C-suite experts see as the most critical factors shaping the industry, and how they are influencing the state of play. For executives, iGaming professionals and future leaders, this is an unmissable chance to find out what it takes to succeed in an ever-changing industry.

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