SILVER SPRING, Md. - Esports is a booming business with celebrity investors and expected revenues of more than $1 billion, which Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School graduates Mason Mariani and Alex Martinage saw as an opportunity.
The duo, now college sophomores, created Team Cryptik nearly two years ago, running the esports team from their respective dorm rooms.
With an initial investment of just a few thousand dollars, the college CEOs say they have brought in nearly $60,000 in revenue. The video game enthusiasts recruit and pay gamers to attempt to win tournaments for games such as Halo, Call of Duty and others.
"We saw the success of other organizations ... and we thought, you know, we have background in the scene," said Martinage. "We know what these organizations offer players, so why not try ourselves."
According to Deloitte, esports is projected to bring in $1.5 billion in revenue by 2020.
Mariani and Martinage say balancing running a business, college life and academics is difficult.
"We go to a lecture for about 45 minutes, an hour, and then right after that, we have to take a call with a player or sponsor," said Mariani.
But they have already been recognized for their hustle. Forbes named them finalists for a nomination to its 30 Under 30 list in the gaming category.
Mariani says the next step for Team Cryptik is to partner with investors to become an even bigger brand.
The college entrepreneurs also have advice for other young people looking to start a business.
"It’s kind of cliche, but it’s really just to never quit," Martinage said. "You’re going to fail a lot and I think the key about that is to not look at it as a failure, but look at it as a learning opportunity."