Kevin Lee-A-Ping walked onto the set of Planting Seeds bursting with excitement. Like the other 52 entrepreneurs débuted on the first season of the show, this was his first time pitching his business idea—not just to a panel of investors, but to the entire Caribbean region.
Lee-a-Ping is a videogame fanatic who turned his passion into a business by creating a company called E-Sports Caribbean League (ECSL), with the objective of developing T&T’s professional and competitive gaming sector. In April 2014, Lee-a-Ping commenced business operations with ECSL’s first event at the Woodbrook Youth Facility, and now has an annual flagship event called Gamescon, which attracts 250 gamers and 650 spectators each year.
The event, which features a series of ten gaming tournaments, is filled with action and excitement as an entire community of gamers and gaming enthusiasts (some dressed as their favourite videogame characters) gather to witness the coronation of the new Gamescon champion. As for participating gamers, they take Gamescon seriously, since they are competing in front of a live audience for bragging rights and cash prizes.
Bolstered by Gamescon’s success and the exponential growth of the e-sport industry worldwide, Lee-a-Ping came to Planting Seeds to offer a 20 per-cent equity of his company in exchange for $300,000. He explained to investors that the capital would be used to turn ECSL into the premier tournament-hosting company in the Caribbean, as he believed he was filling a gap in the market.
One by one, the investors turned him down, until one investor, Joseph Rahael, made an offer for a 45 per-cent equity stake in exchange for $300,000. Lee-a-Ping took a minute to consider the offer. The money was right there on the table—but at what cost? He would have to give up almost half of his company, a company that is already established, with a reputation for hosting the best Caribbean tournaments. He tried to bargain, but Rahael held firm on the 45 per-cent deal, as he viewed the business as high-risk, and has no interest in the industry.
Many business people, at some point in their entrepreneurial journey, will face the same decision that Lee-a-Ping had to make that day: a decision as to how much they think their business is worth. More often than not, entrepreneurs in Lee-a-Ping’s position underestimate themselves and undervalue their business, leading them to take offers from disinterested investors just because they don’t believe that they could do it on their own or find a better partner. However, Kevin Lee-a-Ping is not one of those entrepreneurs. He stood his ground, and did not accept the money, becoming the first Planting Seeds Entrepreneur to walk away from a deal.
For Lee-a-Ping, his experience on Planting Seeds reminded him of the worth of his business. As for Planting Seeds viewers, the episode provided a key business lesson: know when to turn down a deal that isn’t right for you, even if all the money you need is right there for the taking.
Want to know more about Kevin Lee-a-Ping? Follow his road to success on www.plantingseedscaribbean.com or visit him at www.esportscaribbean.com.
Planting Seeds was made possible thanks to the collaborative effort of the Planting Seeds producers, Ernst & Young, and JD Sellier, as well as sponsors JMMB, Caribbeanjobs.com, Beacon Insurance, and Blink|bmobile.
Tune in every Tuesday at 8 pm on CNC3, and watch as T&T’s very own up-and-coming entrepreneurs vie to turn their business dreams into a reality.