Brainz Magazine Exclusive
Erik Bergman, 32, is the entrepreneur who got rich on online casinos through his company Catena Media. Today Erik's big passion is Great.com which he also founded, with the idea that all profit will go to charity.
Can you tell us more about Catena Media and what you consider to be the biggest reasons for your success?
- Catena Media technically started in 2012, but what would become Catena started earlier. It was me and my childhood friend Emil Thidell who started experimenting with all sorts of ways to make money online around 2007. We stumbled upon what is known as "affiliate marketing", marketing with performance-based payment online in 2008 and began experimenting with it.
- Catena Media is mainly focused on online casinos but the first four years between 2008 and 2012 we had nothing to do with the casino industry. We started with bingo and poker, which was part of the gaming industry but we also had insurance, hotel reservations and fashion. What we were good at was really how to rank high in Google on different keywords, and in 2012 we started doing it towards the casino industry.
- I would say that the secret behind the success is luck and timing. We stumbled into the casino-world at the right time and really had no plan behind it. Of course luck and timing are two pretty boring things to talk about because it's hard to learn from it, so I'm gonna talk about other factors behind the success. I would say that the desire to create, the constant search for collaborations and the combination of me, a salesman and visionary, and Emil, who is a genius at computers, was very successful
- If we start with the desire to create, we started Catena because we thought it was very fun. We loved what we did and it was more like a hobby and passion than it was a company in its early years. It was the joy behind it that created a lot of the success, when something is fun you think about it all the time, it becomes your favorite subject to talk about which makes it easy to keep both motivation and inspiration high.
"In the long term we were the winners, because our competitors were stuck in negotiation, while we were making results."
- About the pursuit of collaborations, it was something we did a lot. We collaborated with all kinds of people and companies, which is very important if you want to rank high on Google. One thing we did differently from almost everyone else was that we almost always pulled the shortest straw in all the negotiations and terms, we almost always let the other party be “the winner” of the deal. The advantage of it was that all negotiations went very fast and everyone wanted to cooperate with us. In the long run, we were the winners, because our competitors were stuck in negotiation, while we were making results.
- The third part is, like I said, the combination of me and Emil. We are very different people and have different talents. I'm bad at everything that he's good at, which means that the division of responsibilities was always obvious. He created stuff and I made sure we made money on his system. If you have someone who complements you and you’re strength, I think it's great, but at the same time I think it's better to start something yourself rather than to sit and wait for the right person to show up.
Before you turned 30, you made an incredible $ 50 million profit which many of us can’t even dream of. Do you consider that's the most important thing, to have money and economic freedom as a goal to reach success, or are there other things that are more important?
- I would say that a prerequisite for reaching such numbers is that you do NOT have money as your goal. Money is a pretty bad driving force, it's very uninspiring because it's so abstract and difficult to understand. I think that if you're only driven by money you will give up when it gets tough. If you are driven by joy and passion, a constant curiosity and the desire to surround yourself with smart and inspiring people, then you will get far. If you do good things, keep your motivation high, surround yourself with smart people and constantly work to improve your habits and structures, then money will come automatically, whether it's your main focus or not.
Today you're also the founder of the charity project great.com. What is the vision with Great.com?
- Yes, the last few years Great.com has been my big passion. In many ways it reminds of Catena but with the big difference that we will give away all profits to stop the climate crisis. We have two primary goals, which is partly that, as I said, donate money to climate organizations, but it's also that we want to reduce the problems that the casino industry creates.
- We think the best way to combine these two things is to build one big portal with information about casinos where all information is impartial and honest, and also because today there isn't so much information and help to find due to the problems the casino-world has created.
- Systembolaget (a store that sells alcohol) in Sweden is a big role model for us. They sell a product that can create a lot of problems, but their intention is to sell it in a responsible way. The profit they make goes to the government and the advertising they make is focused on information and responsibility.
- We want to rank high on Google when people are looking for casinos so that we can advise them where to play, but also guidance and advice for those who have a gambling problem.
As for Today no one that are high-ranked on Google related to casino keywords provides the customer with good information on what to do if you have a gambling problem. The few that have information have it hidden on their website in some footer. We wanna change that and be on top of Google and provide the person with some valuable information and guidance.
You have a instagram account where you provide your followers with at least one video everyday, and today you have 127 000 followers on “smilingerik”.
What are your top 4 tips to grow fast in social media?
- The first thing is to have fun when you create your content. If you're not having fun, try to look for a way that makes it fun. Don’t pursue until you think it’s fun. If you’re not enjoying yourself with the things you do, you will eventually give up. It's better to give up immediately if you don’t enjoy it.
- When you’ve found a way that you think is fun, let the next step be about learning. Don’t think about how many likes, followers or subscribers you have. Think about what you are learning for your own sake. If you’re enjoying yourself and meanwhile learning things, the motivation will come from inside. If you have found something that you enjoy and can learn from, you don’t need much more, right?
- The third key is that when you are enjoying yourself and learning you need to start creating value for others. Find a way to make your content meaningful for others, so they also can learn something.
- In the fourth step you can think about scaling. Ask yourself the questions “How am I gonna make money out off this? How will I get more subscribers? Who can I collaborate with?” If you haven’t succeeded with the first 3 steps - go back and do it all over.
- There are way to many people that just love creating content, and if you're not one of them you have no chance of being successful. You need to find your passion to be successful.
Finally, what is your next big goal?
- Honestly, I don’t believe in goals so much. I believe in constant improvement of my habits, have a more fun life, live healthier and give more value to the people around me. I want everything to be a little bit more fun and I want to get a little bit better this year than last year. And then just have that on repeat. 2021 a little bit better than 2020 and so on…
- I believe in small and constant changes of my life. Everything is just a long process, and goals have a risk of taking focus of the thing I think most important - constant development.