Imane “Pokimane” Anys founder of the talent management and brand consulting firm
Top Twitch streamer Imane “Pokimane” Anys has founded her own talent management and brand consulting company.
The streamer named her company RTS, a nod to the popular real-time strategy video game genre. “It perfectly represents what we want to do for clients, which is to create a real-time strategy that will be beneficial and successful for them and their brands,” said Anys. The company’s goal is to bridge the gap between brands and creators and improve the treatment of creators across the industry, in part by re-creating Anys’ well-oiled management structure on a larger scale.
Although RTS officially launched today, it has been doing business in the esports space for months. Anys first proposed the concept in November 2020, while attempting to restructure its own management team. “I was interviewing a lot of agencies and management companies because I needed some extra help,” Anys said. “Unfortunately, I was a bit dissatisfied with the meetings I took.”
Anys shared her doubts with Stuart Saw, then vice president of esports at Endeavour, she said, “and naturally those conversations slowly evolved into assumptions about how we deal with these issues.” Anys and Saw soon agreed to found RTS, bringing in Kim Phan, then senior account manager at agency Endeavor 160over90, as the third co-founder. All three currently serve in leadership roles, with Anys serving as the company’s chief creative officer, Saw as CEO, and Phan as COO. The company is founder-funded, with additional support from Endeavor and Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin.
RTS’ dual approach, which integrates both talent management and brand consulting, is the result of a long design process. In March 2021, while streamlining its objectives, the RTS acquired Evolution Championship Series (Evo), the largest annual fighting game tournament, in joint venture with Sony Interactive Entertainment. The acquisition of Evo will act as something of a case study for the brand consulting side of RTS, showing how its considerable gaming and esports confidence can help rejuvenate a somewhat stagnant brand. “We already have and will continue to have many other smaller projects with different companies,” said Anys. Current RTS customers include Facebook, Ballantine’s and Learfield.
Another goal of the brand consultancy side of RTS is to create revenue streams that do not rely directly on creators to generate profits. “When you focus too much on talent management or make your whole business structure just take advantage of creators, I feel like it can prioritize profits over well-being. of a creator,” said Anys.
“I think they go hand in hand,” said Justin Miclat, CEO of digital-native talent management firm The Kinetic Group. “When managing individual talent, their activities and campaigns, we keep long-term brand development and strategy in mind. So it makes sense – it would only be natural for these two branches of the business to be under the same umbrella.
In addition to protecting the well-being of creators by diversifying RTS’s revenue streams, Anys hopes to use her business to create more opportunities for women and other marginalized creators. Although Anys is the highest paid Twitch streamer, she is one of only three women in the streaming platform’s top 100 earners, a number she hopes to increase due to RTS’s involvement in the industry. “Like any industry that gets bigger over time, the bigger you are, the more responsibility there is, but also more sophistication,” said Ann Hand, CEO of esports entertainment company Super League. “So I think Pokimane is more proof – but we need dozens, we need hundreds.”
Pokimane’s decision to found a brand consultancy isn’t just a win for diversity: it also has the potential to introduce new, non-endemic brands to the space, according to Hand. “A lot of brands that focus more on women, I think are slower to play,” she said. “And knowing that 45% of players in the United States are women, all the data is there. But for a brand that’s been a little cautious about dipping its toes into the playing space, I think there’s something entirely believable about seeing a very different face on the other side of the table.
Anys is not the first popular streamer to leverage its expertise to manage or mentor emerging talent: in November 2020, for example, Ali “SypherPK” Hassan, one of Miclat’s clients, created a talent incubator , Oni Studiosafter signing a big revival with Twitch. Although the floodgates haven’t opened yet, experts in the field predict that more creators will follow Anys and Hassan on this path. “Streaming every day is a job where you get a lot of burnout,” said Ryan Morrison, CEO of Evolved, an esports talent agency. “So the idea that they’re going to discover other business ventures and revenue streams in space, while helping people with everything they’ve learned over so many years, makes a lot of sense. .”
As this type of career change becomes more mainstream, Morrison said, “unfortunately, you’re going to see a lot more snake oil than success in this area.” Still, he continued, that caveat certainly doesn’t apply to a streamer with Anys’ proven track record. “With someone like Poki, who’s been so successful, I think they’re going to do some really cool stuff.”