SiGMA Group’s success owes much to founder Eman Pulis’ keen eye for innovation. A start-up idealist, he started SiGMA, now a global marquee event in gaming, from the cosy confines of his bedroom. In 2018 he followed through on his ambitions by debuting new startup brand AIBC, launching the Maltese government’s breakthrough legislation on DLTs just as the world was waking up to blockchain fever.
Today, emerging tech is no longer a fledgling industry. Well equipped with all the lessons he picked up on his SiGMA journey, the AIBC brand has taken shape rapidly, and has now reached the global echelons of international recognition. Fresh off the Dubai scene, where it launched confidently alongside new brand Affiliate Grand Slam (AGS) in May 2021, AIBC gathered tremendous public support and endorsement from the UAE government, ultimately drawing a 4000 strong crowd.
After cracking such a tough nut many would pursue a measure of complacency, a well-earned rest on their laurels – but this has never been Eman’s style. Spurred on by a natural thirst for learning and an insatiable streak of curiosity, his success has served only to whet his appetite – onwards and upwards, as he likes to say.
Undeterred by the limitations brought on by the current health crisis, Eman sought the silver lining, taking the time to step back and reflect. It is this downtime which helped him realise that delegates were hungry for other markets, which is why this year he’s launching a 4-show-event that includes SiGMA, AGS, Med-Tech World, and AIBC as part of Malta Week in November 2021 and several international supershows in 2022.
He has spoken passionately about the potential that lies in cross-pollination – for SiGMA Group events to act as a catalyst for diverging verticals to learn from each other, and do more business with each other. The creation of the SiGMA Fund and Accelerator for example, aims to bridge emerging tech and gaming under one roof. The fund brings on a team of leading advisors and investors to give startups a jumpstart in the business world.
“If you put all of [the emerging technologies] together behind gaming, that’s the rocket fuel I believe the industry needs to become truly global.”
It’s a personal trait that’s served him well – he admittedly didn’t know anything about the gaming industry before he got into the game and credits his early partner, Dennis Dyhr-Hansen, for his role in speeding up his education.
In the process of turning a small, niche one-man show into a global media and events company, he’s not ignoring the hard-won experience he’s accrued. He’s been very vocal about the need to approach the industry holistically, and believes that if a business ecosystem is healthy everyone stands to profit. His recent success is down to fully embracing, and even relishing, his role as a facilitator. Eman actively seeks to be part of the tide that lifts all boats, almost as a point of pride.
It is this point which has led to his most recent project. Strongly believing that education can be a critical and valuable tool to empower experiences and widen opportunities, Eman launched SiGMA College through the company’s charitable arm, SiGMA Foundation, in 2021.
This commitment has led the company to take a stronger, more influential role on the gaming and tech stage.
The College will offer a full portfolio of interactive eLearning courses free of charge, and will be an accredited and licensed venture. Key topics will leverage the company’s vast network and knowledge pool to build a number of courses, boosted by interviews with founding fathers within the industry, to highlight opportunities in the gaming, blockchain, and emerging tech sector. Through this, he endeavours to bring more than just good business to the locations he operates in.
From Africa to Asia to Europe and the Americas, he’s pledged to make good on a commitment to enhance the space SiGMA Group works in.
Mr. Pulis currently resides in Malta with his wife and two young daughters, a mid-Med location that, in addition to hosting SiGMA Group’s headquarters, offers an advantageous central base to coordinate the company’s global calendar of events from.
He’s well known here – not just to the flourishing gaming hub the island has built up – but to the entertainment scene, having started out in 2003 by hosting massive parties and concerts around Malta for the music scene.
These early years were hugely significant, offering him valuable insight into the gaming demographic and a realisation that this was an industry that holds all the big spenders. It gave him the push he needed to build a network and pursue a new industry.
ThThe company currently employs 60+ employees and has offices based in Malta, Cyprus, London, Kiev, Manila, Belgrade, and Chicago – a workforce that skyrocketed as the company’s vision grew to encompass media, and more recently, affiliation.
He sometimes likes to call himself ‘just an events guy’ – but over the years he’s become much more than that. Under his watch SiGMA’s website is now available in 10 key international languages, having also developed a strong front when it comes to affiliation in the gaming sector, promoting online casino, sports betting, and emerging tech through its multi-media platforms.
In addition to a wealth of experience in event management, Eman Pulis holds a degree in Education with first-class honours, as well as a Master of Arts in Diplomatic Studies, and a Master of Fine Arts in Diplomatic Studies. In 2003 he represented Malta at the Small Nation Games, breaking the national record for the triple jump. Mr. Pulis also sits on a number of boards as a senior advisor.
Eman Pulis launches €20m fund to support the next generation of founders focused on frontier technologies
Invention and innovation is the driving force behind economic growth.
Eman Pulis has cultivated an oversized presence in the tech investment community in the past years, building up his reputation for spotting trends in frontier technologies.
Ikigai Ventures is Pulis’ new project – a Luxembourg-based, seed-stage, venture capital firm committed to supporting bright ideas worldwide.
At the moment the company is focusing its efforts on investments in verticals such as gaming (cash games and free-to-play), betting, esports, blockchain, fintech, AI and other frontier tech.The fund believes that these verticals will swallow up more VC opportunities down the road and it’s time to start betting on them now.
When asked about this VC Fund, Eman Pulis said “Thanks to our conferences, I’ve been blessed with a worldwide network of hyper-successful investors, entrepreneurs, and legal minds, most of whom are interested to join this fund in some capacity.
“Additionally, the deal flow is constant: startups have been coming to me for guidance for quite some time. I’m excited and I’m cautiously optimistic. Ikigai Ventures has a very promising future ahead.”
Over half of the funding has already been committed and the fund will start deploying its capital in Q1 2022. The limited partners are leading European tech founders and investors or collectives that have built and scaled some of Europe’s biggest companies in these verticals. A team of global experienced capitalists and industry experts with multiple exits have been assigned to the same VC Fund. All investors in the fund will be meeting once a year during Malta Week for the fund’s annual general meeting.
“As the space continues to expand, we obviously can’t hire 100 people in-house,” Pulis told us.
“And so we decided we need to take a network-driven approach, and in order to build a network that grows bigger, faster and adds more value to all stakeholders, we have built the Ikigai Collective. These are the founders and other builders in the space that act as our scouts and extended partners, and we have over 20 of them in the fund.”