How Eden Entertainment is making a difference for people of color in esports
by Robin Mosley
Eden Entertainment is an esports and content organization that has a pro diversity mission baked into the fabric of its company. While there are esports companies that recruit diverse players and certainly ones owned by people of color, this one is scrappy and grassroots with no backing other than its own as it works to get players of color the shot they deserve in the competitive esports arena. With the need for diversity and inclusion in esports, Eden is tackling this opportunity gap head on.
Nerd Street sat down with Daniel Smart, one half of Eden Entertainment, which is also known as Eden Esports, about the company and everything they’re doing to make a difference in esports for Black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC), including building a brand for themselves.
Nerd Street: Who are you and why did you start Eden Entertainment?
Smart: So my name is Daniel Smart. I actually have been working in healthcare, consulting and healthcare investment. But as it pertains to specifically gaming, this whole thing really started about four or five years ago. And for some context, Jared Cokley and I are high school friends. And we bonded over our mutual interest in gaming. One day we were going down to Virginia Beach and I was just sitting there and I said to Jared, ‘I see so many people using gaming as a way to support themselves, support their families. They've created a business around it, and some of the stigma around gaming is [dying] off.’
For context, Jared and I are both African-American. I'm specifically from a Caribbean family. And so, you know, growing up, if you're not a lawyer, doctor, engineer or something else, [people wonder] what are you doing with your life? But on the other hand, why aren't there that many faces like us in, in esports, specifically?
And I think the consensus that we came to was that in our spaces, predominantly Black spaces and Latin spaces, the concept of gaming is still stigmatized or is not readily accepted at the same rate. And so we set out to find diverse esports athletes to provide them with some support.
Nerd Street: What's been the highs and lows of running your company?
Smart: I would say the low is twofold. And I'll start with the low. First, being an entrepreneur in whatever space you're in is a volatile profession to be in, right? A lot of times you have to source things on your own, you have to finance things on your own, you have to network and find relationships on your own. And given that neither Jared or I are in esports or in gaming, adjacent professions, a lot of the lows for us has been trying to break into these spaces.
And then beyond that, [it’s the] entrepreneurial financial woes where we have to do this thing and you have to support this streamer or content creator and we're looking at our business account like ‘I don't know where this is gonna come from, but we have to figure it out kind of thing.’
But I would say the highs have been over the last three years. The high has been from the people that we've reached out to who have been ecstatic about this kind of entity being a thing. I think our Twitter engagement has really kind of reinforced for us that this is something that's needed in this space.
Seeing the actual growth that we've been able to provide for some of our content creators, whether it's been in follower account, YouTube subscribers, or whatever the metric you want to use, seeing them come back to us and be like, ‘hey, this thing that you guys told me to do or these metrics that you guys helped me figure out really helped increase my platform in some way.’
Nerd Street: What do you think makes Eden Entertainment different?
Smart: We want to make sure that the people who don't have the resources to get seen right by a Cloud9 or whoever else it is will still have a chance at being a professional gamer in some way whether that is content creation or competing. And with that, we've really kind of doubled down on making sure that we provide a space and a community for small content creators to network and to form inter-communities.
Nerd Street: But what are some of your goals? And what do you want people to know about Eden Entertainment?
Smart: So we actually just onboarded for new content creators at the top of the year. And that was really big for us because we've been steadily growing our Twitter platform, and we've been using Facebook Gaming as an ancillary. We’re really trying to get our message out there of wanting to help POC. Essentially, [we want to] do events that are catered to our content creators, expose them to the greater content creation community and then, three, snag and land sponsorships for content creators.
Nerd Street: What are you all looking for in the next Eden Entertainment class?
Smart: There's a couple things that we look for, the biggest thing is passion. And two, I'm going to wrap it up in the word, personality. Being able to be entertaining in that way is not everybody's cup of tea to be honest. But we hope that even if you're small that if you have that passion, and you have that entertainment value, you have the ability to go farther than you think.
Nerd Street: What do you want people to know about Eden Entertainment?
Smart: What I think the biggest thing is that we are here to support you. What we want to do is give you an additional set of tools to increase community and visibility to help build your brand as a BIPOC content creator.
Lead photo credit: Eden Entertainment