The biggest challenge for Min-Liang Tan and his co-founder was figuring out how to get people to spend money on this niche product, which had no key features, nor a lasting advantage. For example, what would make people shell out $30 for a virtual, phone-based, do-it-yourself board game? “At that time, there was no iPhone,” Tan says. “There was no Google. People still thought Microsoft Windows was a big deal, and companies like Apple had to make a lot of money.” In the late ’90s, gaming wasn’t widely recognized as a worthy category that would be lucrative in the long run, Tan said. Instead, it was seen as an easily accessible, self-gratifying hobby where people would easily spend a few dollars on a goofy, outdated, usually impossible-to-master arcade game.

The idea for a gaming-based company was a risky one. Tan gave up his former job, cashed out his retirement funds, and devoted everything he had to Razer’s rapid growth. The gambit has paid off. Razer has become one of the largest and fastest-growing gaming companies in the world, with more than $800 million in annual sales and a market cap of nearly $5 billion. Razer is one of more than 150 unicorns in Asia, the term for private companies with more than a billion-dollar valuation. Tan now ranks ninth on Forbes’ list of Asian billionaires, with an estimated net worth of $3 billion. In addition to his successful business, Tan has also been an active investor in startups such as Razer-branded sunglasses, the company said in a statement.

We all grew up playing video games, which is one of the greatest joys in our lives and careers, but once you realize that you have this skill and this passion, you don’t want to waste the opportunity to monetize it. That’s what spurred me into getting into this — to essentially monetize the passion for gaming by building a new marketplace. The secret also involves raising money from the right partners who are obsessed with the customer. Min-Liang Tan attributes his success to “selling yourself.” The ex-lawyer took on board just four employees from the start in 2005 to now, with more than 14,000 employees. According to Tan, his startup’s global success, largely down to its core focus on games and the industry’s dominance in gaming, was in large part down to a single decision he made early on: to keep the focus on gamers, rather than try to become another consumer electronics company. Read More.