A Winning Culture Across All Levels

A Winning Culture Across All Levels

johan-konigslehnerWelcomed by the cheerful staff and great energy on the premises of Vera&John, our very own Eman Pulis met up with CEO Johan Königslehner to find out more about the company and where it all began.

“Complementing the pure gambling experience, we have tried to add extra features to enhance the experience,” Johan said, “and this includes our winning guarantee, which means telling everyone that big money is being won on our site every day.”

The company started out when founders Dan Andersson and Jörgen Nordlund identified an opportunity to set up a focused casino brand targeting Europe. The concept was created back in 2010 following thorough background studies, and the site was officially launched on the 23rd of February 2011.

Vera&John is a pure online casino, Johan explained, meaning that it is not a one-stop-shop with more gambling products. Apart from offering a wide range of payment options and a great overall service and experience, it also offers other fundamentals including professional support, being customer centric, and of course, the content itself.

“Complementing the pure gambling experience, we have tried to add extra features to enhance the experience,” Johan said, “and this includes our winning guarantee, which means telling everyone that big money is being won on our site every day.”

 The casino’s loyalty program allows players to play games whilst simultaneously engaging in the site and contributing to it, which Johan stated is “one thing that we’re really proud of, and of course, looking to expand.”

The Vera&John casino also offers non-provider-specific tournaments, meaning that they can mix games from different providers without relying on outside providers and promotion tools. These are merely a few of the great characteristics of the casino.

The aim for every casino is to stand out from the rest, and this is no different for Vera&John. Johan emphasised that the key is to be a bit different and stringent in what one sets out to do: “One of our goals was to integrate as many suppliers as possible where customers could find the most games available in one place. Back in 2011, a few other operators were already adding more suppliers, but there was still definitely no one offering the widest range of games. That was something we worked really hard on – to integrate as many good providers as possible, which was then complemented with great content.”

Johan compared this situation with a striking example: “Compare it to clothing stores, for instance, like a denim store: we all have our Levi’s, Lee, and so on. That’s the reality we’re facing, so by working with the brand and differentiating it, the product itself helps us to distinguish ourselves from our competitors.”

In fact, this is how the casino’s name came about. Back in the day, many casinos focused solely on the product, and therefore gave less importance to their own brand. With the urge to build a solid brand in addition to a great casino website, and also show customers that they catered for both genders, the team spent a long time brainstorming different name ideas until they reached the name that they were happy with.

The appealing colour scheme of cyan and magenta was also part of the marketing plan, which is something that they wanted from the beginning. At the time of conception, the combination of the two colours really stood out in advertising and it also complemented the site.

The Vera&John team has worked very hard in trying to make different offers available, which is why they focused so much on building their bonus engine in an attempt to come up with promotions that did not focus on percentage deposit bonuses and free spins.

“There’s still plenty to do, and I think that everyone in the industry would agree that a kind of constant evolvement is necessary. It is no good to do today what you did 5 years ago – you have to keep up with the times, which is a challenge.”

For loyal customers to feel valued, the brand promises to treat existing or active customers in the best way possible without flirting with new players with better offers. Components such as loyalty programmes, tournaments, bonuses and the winning guarantee allow Vera&John to stand out from their competitors. Johan noted: “In this competitive environment, it pays off to focus on these areas and, more importantly, the players that are investing in the packaging of the product to create a unique selling point.”

The Vera&John team is forever growing, which means that structure and processes are crucial. Johan said: “It is challenging to grow, and it does take a lot of effort to evolve the company’s organisation whilst at the same time stimulating a high level of growth and innovation. Red tape needs to be removed to minimise frustration.”

“One of our goals was to integrate as many suppliers as possible where customers could find the most games available in one place. Back in 2011, a few other operators were already adding more suppliers, but there was still definitely no one offering the widest range of games. That was something we worked really hard on – to integrate as many good providers as possible, which was then complemented with great content.”

He added that employees are the most valuable asset in any company – a growing organisation in itself is a great opportunity for people with ambition. Equally, having an inspirational working atmosphere is important. “Creating a sense of belonging and delegating responsibilities strengthen the bond within the company,” Johan added. “Our internal core values are sharing, caring and rewarding – and we try our best to live up to those with our employees as well as our customers.”

Not only is the Vera&John team expanding, but the brand itself is working to increase the strength of its product and develop it. The brand currently holds an MGA license as well as a UKGC license, and is in the process of acquiring a Danish license also. “We had a limited Danish license, but now we’re going on to the full one,” Johan explained. “The more compliant we are, the faster and easier it will be for us to pick up any new requirements on additional regulations, so we’re looking to see what other regulated markets we are currently not in, and other markets that we could potentially enter.”

More and more EU states have been introducing their regulatory frameworks and asking for specific licenses to operate in that particular jurisdiction. Johan said that it’s always important to evaluate and assess the current situation, but added that Malta and the MGA have so far done an excellent job at keeping up with the changes in the industry. “That’s why the island continues to serve as an attractive place to base a gaming company,” he explained.

Basic principals in the EU support companies within the Union, allowing them to target the whole market on equal terms. The established and emerging regulatory frameworks are put in place on a member state level in order to safeguard both national interests as well as an open market within the Union.

In order to continue enjoying the favourable position currently held amongst gaming companies today, Malta and the MGA have a number of different focus areas which they are tackling. “Measures that were taken in the past have been very successful, ranging from the initiatives to recruit highly qualified professionals for Maltese companies, to bridging different regulatory frameworks,” Johan pointed out. “Malta’s favourable corporate tax structure for companies mainly doing business outside Malta is definitely a main component at the moment.”

Leading such a successful company comes hand in hand with its fair share of stress, and according to Johan, when it comes to coping mechanisms, there are mainly two things that help: “The first is to have really good staff and excellent people working in the company,” he said with a smile, adding that this helps to take off a lot of the burden. “We work a lot with company culture and internal branding to give the much-appreciated people an inspiring environment to work in.”

The other key, he continued, is trying to stay one step ahead. “You need to try to monitor what’s going on and have an idea of where things are going. If you’re always trying to catch up, that adds a lot of stress. With all the re-regulations going on, it’s quite a challenging feat. Combine this with fierce competition, and you can easily let the stress get the better of you.”

Originally, Johan got into the iGaming area by complete coincidence. He discovered Poker in early 2000 and realised that it was great fun. At the time, he used to work with business intendants and software replication development, which is an entirely different industry. When he was on parental leave, he did the very conventional thing of answering an ad and attending an interview and became highly interested in the field.

“Eventually I joined a Bingo company in 2007, and from then on, I was hooked,” he continued. “Being a numbers’ junkie, I became addicted a couple of hours into my first day, and since then I’ve been working in the online gaming industry. The rest is history!”

Speaking of his love for Malta, Johan said: “I think Malta is a great place to live. People are genuinely friendly and open to new acquaintances. Coming from the north, the fantastic climate here gives a constant sensation of being on vacation, and offers us so much opportunity to spend time outdoors.” He mentioned how his family loves to spend time by and in the sea, and how in spite of being a small island, there are many things to discover – and being so small, all those undiscovered things are conveniently close.

Vera&John participated as gold exhibitors at SiGMA16 in November, which was their first exhibition yet. “We’ve chosen SiGMA to be our very first appearance and we’re absolutely thrilled about it – especially as it covers so many aspects of our business. We are looking forward to engaging with new fantastic people to join our team.”

 

This article was published first on SiGMA Magazine. The magazine was launched at SiGMA show last November. For SiGMA17 sponsorship opportunities click here.

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