When Hero Boosting first started in 2016, it was a “complete flop,” said 29-year-old founder Nicholas (*he refused to disclose his full name).
“The site looked like hot garbage (and) had zero functionality,” he added.
With no business or marketing experience, he barely made any money off it so it was more of a hobby to him than a business venture.
He went on to revamp the site about four times before the current iteration of his website, which was established in 2017.
“My very first website was developed for just S$200 to S$400. Over the years, I’ve blown about S$20,000 or more of my savings trying to get things to work.”
Despite the rocky start, many would definitely envy Nicholas for making a living from doing what he loves best: gaming.
When Passion Pays
On its website, Hero Boosting describes itself as a platform that aims to “give you a helping hand or just a slight push in the right direction” in the gaming world.
“(We provide) services globally to frustrated gamers who either don’t have the time or patience to achieve certain goals in the game, or those who simply want a shortcut to getting certain game rewards,” explained Nicholas.
“We also have a lot of customers who are tired of playing with bad teammates or toxic players ruining their gaming experience. Essentially, we just aim to help gamers with whatever it is they are struggling with.”
Some game titles that they offer include Apex Legends, Dota 2, League of Legends, Teamfight Tactics and Valorant.
According to the ‘O’ Level graduate, the idea to start up Hero Boosting came about eight years ago from his gaming friend.
Hero Boosting is his very first venture and he considers himself “quite lucky” to be able to make money off something he is truly passionate about.
“Maybe if it wasn’t something I was interested in, I would have given up a long time ago,” he mused.
After secondary school, Nicholas worked some odd jobs in F&B, retail and customer service. His first “serious job” was at a digital advertising agency, where he worked at for about a year before leaving to focus on the business.
He was in between jobs during his mid-twenties when he contacted one of the top global boosting sites as he wanted to score a position there and learn the ropes from them.
So What Exactly Is ‘Boosting’?
For those who are gaming noobs (like me), they might not be familiar with the term ‘boosting’.
Nicholas explained that it refers to the act of “artificially increasing your game account’s rank, either by having someone play on your account for you, or together with you in a party to carry you to easy victories.”
There is also another term called “smurfing” in the gaming world, he added.
A “smurf” is someone who is skilled at the game playing on an account that doesn’t reflect his actual rank or skills. This results in said player absolutely decimating their opponent because of the skill gap.
However, the problem with smurfing is that it’s impossible to stop since anyone can simply make a new account and play on it if they want.
“Boosting is basically us being paid to smurf. That’s it,” he said simply.
When asked about his thoughts on people who deem it as “cheating”, Nicholas plainly said that he is not keen to debate on whether it’s morally right in the gaming world.
He admits that it “might be in bad taste”, but he personally feels that if someone is skilled enough and “want to have some fun demolishing lesser-skilled players”, then that is their prerogative.
Breaking down the boosting booking process on his platform, Nicholas said that they have refined the process a lot over the years and managed to automate most of it.
Keen customers simply need to head over to their website (note: they have two domains here and here that they operate separately), select their game and purchase options, before proceeding to make payment.
Once the payment is confirmed, they will be assigned to a booster or a coach, whom you can communicate with directly from the order page to discuss and finalise the finer details.
How Lucrative Is Boosting As A Career?
Hero Boosting currently has about 160 boosters across all games, and Nicholas stressed that he only hires the “best players in the game.”
‘What are the other qualifications that you look out for?’ I asked.
“Boosters are (also) required to be polite and well-mannered players. It is important to maintain their best attitude at all times when playing on customers’ accounts and together with customers,” he said.
“We make it a top priority to protect our customer’s account integrity and privacy at all times.”
The charges for their boosting services varies — it depends on what the customer needs.
According to Nicholas, most customers spend an average of about US$50 to US$100 per order, and they get about 1,000 orders a month.
“The most we’ve made in a month would be US$88,000 — this is purely revenue, and not counting expenses like advertising et cetera.”
When asked how lucrative is it as a career, Nicholas simply said that “it depends on where you live.”
Lost Thousands Of Dollars On Marketing Efforts
Looking back at his four-year entrepreneurial journey, Nicholas cited marketing as one of his biggest business roadblocks.
He ended up learning everything himself. Within a year, he was able to scale profitable advertising campaigns and bring their search engine optimisation (SEO) to the first page of Google for most of their search terms.
The boosting industry is surprisingly competitive, said Nicholas, so it’s important for them to get their name out there.
“Eventually, I started to make use of my competition by copying the good parts of their site and processes, and improving on them,” he added.
Another key business challenge is the effective management of a fully online workforce.
According to Nicholas, they currently have a 170-strong workforce, inclusive of boosters, administrative assistants as well as live chat support staff.
“It can be hard to keep your employees in line when they’re halfway across the globe from you. I try to be as transparent as possible and focus on building working relationships based on trust.”
He also gives due credit to platforms like Discord, which have helped them make it super easy to communicate with and keep everyone organised.
People Might Not Be Willing To Pay For Boosting Anymore
When he was younger, Nicholas used to be an avid gamer.
The longest gaming ‘marathon’ for him was at least 20 hours, he recalled, but this was back during the “LAN shop days” when he was in secondary school.
Nowadays, he would game purely for leisure, and would spend only up to three hours a day on gaming.
“Some days or weeks, I don’t game at all. (It) depends on my mood.”
He added that he used to be “quite good” at the game League of Legends. In fact, there was a point of time when he even considered a career in e-sports.
He often tells others that the reason why he gave up on that ambition was because he was too old to make it in the pro scene.
“But the truth is, I probably still wouldn’t be good enough even with the reaction speeds of a younger me. It’s incredibly difficult to make it to the pro e-sports scene,” he confessed.
“I have many boosters who are doing boosting as an interim job while trying to go pro. Most will never make it or manage to be semi-pro at best. You need to be the best of the best to even consider a career in e-sports.”
Based on his responses, it’s clear to see that Nicholas is not the ambitious type, and he admits this himself.
“I’m pretty happy to be making a comfortable living: running a stable business for our customers and boosters.”
He also didn’t have much future business plans lined up. For now, they are simply looking at expanding into more games, and maybe launching more sites in the future.
“I hope we continue to grow and scale into the future, but I’m expecting non-essential consumer spending to decline in the coming years considering all the havoc that Covid-19 has been causing around the world.”
“People won’t be as willing to pay for boosting anymore especially since it’s not something you absolutely need.”
Featured Image Credit: Nicholas / Fox Business