This Is the Sport of the Future, Says Alexander Kokhanovskyy
The esports industry is blowing up--and he's helping gamers cash in.
In this series called Member Showcase, we publish interviews with members of The Oracles. This interview is with Alexander Kokhanovskyy, CEO and co-founder of DreamTeam, which helps esports gamers find teammates, earn money, and more. It was condensed by The Oracles.
Who are you?
Alexander Kokhanovskyy: I’m a former professional esports player who turned his passion into a business. I realized that esports had a bright future when I competed in the 2001 World Cyber Games in South Korea.
In 2010, I built Na’Vi, a popular esports team. In 2015 my partner and I created ESforce, a vertically-integrated esports holding company, because we predicted that selling media rights and sponsorships would be lucrative. In early 2018, we sold the business to Mail.ru for $100 million.
Now I’m building DreamTeam, the first esports and gaming platform that solves problems for hundreds of millions of gamers who want to find teammates, improve their skills, manage teams, and earn money.
What are you more skilled at than most people in the world?
Alexander Kokhanovskyy: I’m an esports insider with unique expertise because I have been part of the industry as it has grown. I know it inside out from multiple angles: as an amateur player and later a successful professional player, coach, team manager, and CEO of a professional team.
I understand the industry’s challenges and can see where it is going — as well as future trends. That knowledge helped me create a platform that solves the industry’s problems.
What excites you the most about your business right now?
Alexander Kokhanovskyy: We can help millions of gamers by providing a clear path from novice to amateur to professional. By lowering the barrier to entry from years and millions of dollars to minutes and a few dollars a month, we are facilitating the mass adoption of esports and competitive gaming.
What book changed your mindset or life?
Alexander Kokhanovskyy: There are two books that changed my life. The first is Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich,” which details how to develop a formula to become rich financially and also spiritually. It taught me to think positively and become more results-oriented.
The second book is “Pitch Anything” by Oren Klaff, which is about how to become a great salesman. One way or another, this skill can help everyone in life.
What was your biggest challenge starting in business? How did you overcome it?
Alexander Kokhanovskyy: The biggest challenge starting in business is to believe in what you do and your success. If you start doubting yourself or what you are trying to achieve, it becomes obvious to everyone and nothing will work. So push through the difficulties.
Personal doubt is inevitable. To overcome it, you must think positively. I learned this skill from friends and business partners, reading the right books, and surrounding myself with the right people. This has helped mold me into who I am today.
How do you define great leadership?
Alexander Kokhanovskyy: Leadership is about truly listening, guiding others instead of telling them what to do, showing respect to those around you, and being brave enough to hire people who are better than you in certain areas.
A great leader doesn’t just teach — they’re also able to learn. It’s particularly important to learn to accept your mistakes.
How do you hire top talent?
Alexander Kokhanovskyy: We’re really picky about hiring. We are looking for the most qualified specialists who aren’t just able to build the product, but also add to it with their insight and expertise.
It’s difficult to find high-level product specialists in Ukraine, and even more difficult to hire them. We always get recommendations from former employers and have several rounds of interviews. In addition to professional skills, we also consider whether the person is able to grow. Personal skills are very important because we want people who share the same vision, values, and mission.
Which single habit gives you 80 percent of your results?
Alexander Kokhanovskyy: Self-control and organization. I am always aware of what is going on in the business. Everything is planned out and written down. I know what I need to do, when, and whether we need a new solution or strategy to achieve our goals.
This helps those around me stay organized as well. Never forget to treat others as you want them to treat you.
What would you like to be doing in three years?
Alexander Kokhanovskyy: My professional and personal goal is to make DreamTeam the biggest one-stop shop for the sport of the future: esports. I want to serve as the one and only point of entry for the entire industry, so every single gamer has the opportunity to reach their goals and fulfill their dreams.
What do you want to be known for, or what do you want your legacy to be?
Alexander Kokhanovskyy: I want to change the entire gaming ecosystem. That’s a challenging task, but I'm 100 percent sure we can achieve it.