Juan Rodriguez, Founder & CEO, of Lodgz Financial, talks about his company and passion for esports.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Juan Rodriguez, and I am originally from Gainesville, FL. I moved to Huntsville, Alabama at the age of 10 and lived there for 13 years. I attended Auburn University, where I received my undergraduate degree in Accounting in December of 2018.
After graduation, I moved down to Tampa, FL in January to begin an internship with Ernst and Young (EY). Right after my internship ended, I received a full-time offer, to start with EY in July of 2020! I am currently working for a different CPA firm in Tampa while I finish completing additional school credits to become a CPA (Certified Public Accountant).
Growing up, I was a passionate basketball player, playing since the age of 5 through my senior year in high school. My 10th grade AAU team won the national championship in Orlando against teams from all over the United States, including Puerto Rico. It was always my goal to play college hoops, but life sent me a different direction.
Along with my basketball upbringing, I was always into video games and technology. As a child, I remember our first video game console was a Sega Genesis. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is when I first got introduced to online competitive gameplay and thought it was fun. I remember the summer of my 8th-grade year included nothing but travel basketball and playing Call of Duty online.
During the rest of high school, I mainly played the NBA 2K series with friends and teammates. During college, Fortnite was my main focus, and I won about $500 during tournaments at a local bar in Auburn.
What motivated you to start Lodgz Financial?
My motivation behind Lodgz was my passion for being in eSports and interest in video games. During my Fortnite endeavors, I was introduced to Twitch and began to see the scene of eSports unfold. During college, I was able to spend more time playing/streaming because I had free time.
However, once I moved to Tampa, my schedule got tighter, and other things took priority. I was starting a new career and life in Tampa, but I did not want to leave the eSports scene behind, which led me to think about staying involved in eSports. Obviously, with my background in accounting, Lodgz felt like my best option. After weeks of researching, I noticed the niche for financial services within eSports and more specifically, in business management firms.
While some firms have an eSports “service,” it is an addition to their traditional clients. In my opinion, it is a traditional firm’s way of trying to get a piece of the eSports pie. Lodgz was built to be a boutique eSports business management firm, meaning it only focuses on clients within eSports and video-game streaming specifically. My motivation each day is to continue to build Lodgz to provide the best support and services to eSport players.
I currently do that right now through my social media. Every day I drop an informative video on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter for all of the streamers and players who follow me. This activity keeps me motivated and focused on trying and helping the next person in line.
What is the vision for Lodgz Financial and how it can make an impact in the esports space?
The vision for Lodgz is to become the premier eSports business management firm in the world. I envision Lodgz making personal finances and business “cool” for players. When anyone hears financial services or personal finances, they immediately do not want to think about it. Many times because they have not been educated, maybe they find it boring, or people make it fancier than it is. The goal for Lodgz is to inform players on the importance of their finances.
I think Lodgz can make an impact in the eSports space by putting the player and streamer back in control of their money. In my opinion, the player seems “in the dark” or at a disadvantage when it comes to their money. They have different voices telling them to do different things – whether that is their parents, friends, organizations, or influencers. They might not even know what to do with their money because they are so young and do not have a grasp of what it all means.
Our goal is to bring clarity and organization to this area of their profession that can be hard to navigate so that they can make the best decision for themselves. I think this is where Lodgz will make a significant impact and empower players.
Where do you see esports in the next five years?
In the next five years, I see eSports as a top three sport or the number one sport. It is already breaking the prize earnings of traditional, well respected sports. Kids entering their teenage years are many times referencing their favorite eSports player or Twitch streamer, over the traditional athlete. In the next five years, this will only continue to be the case, and kids under the age of 10 growing up watching this will do the same.
Platforms such as Twitch and Mixer will only support that movement because of the way that the youth can consume it. Major brands move into the eSports space every day because they see the attention that it has on the youth. This engagement will only lead to more money in the system and more significant prize pools and events. It is inevitable for it to be a top three sport in five years and possibly the number one sport in years after.