Aptly named, the Atlanta startup Haste optimizes internet speeds for gamers and clients who require flawless, streamlined web connections. “Reclaim your connection,” the company says on its website.
This kind of high-stakes, customer-oriented tech venture means having someone at the front lines of the company, dialoguing with current customers and pitching to people who could become new ones. That’s where Joey Benamy comes in. Read on for Haste’s community manager discussing his two-pronged approach to his work and how he became involved in the world of esports.
Find Your Grind: Tell us a little bit about yourself, Joey. What’s your career journey?
Joey Benamy: I grew up in Johns Creek, Georgia, where I lived until attending Georgia Tech in 2010. In 2015, I received my Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering with a focus in networking. During college, I spent two semesters as a software engineering intern. I currently work for Haste, where I do a variety of things including marketing operations, customer service, and data science. I have been involved with Haste since November 2015.
Regarding esports, I’ve been a gamer since a very young age. During middle and high school, I played at least four hours of RuneScape per day. I became very involved in the RuneScape community through my membership in a large clan, where I became a leader. This is where I began developing my community management skills.
During high school and college, I broadened my horizons to other multiplayer games like the Halo and Battlefield series. I also led a multi-thousand person gaming group that played a variety of games including Team Fortress 2, which I have over 1,800 hours in. It quickly became apparent to me that gaming was not only about blowing stuff up, but the community behind it.
FYG: How would you describe your job to someone who knows nothing about what you do?
JB: I define my job as two discrete things. First, I work the frontline for customers and prospective customers, meaning marketing and customer service. Second, I analyze product data so the team can make educated business decisions. Marketing operations is a pretty general term for what I do. It includes social media posts, email blasts, managing special offers and contests, and other efforts to get new users and existing users to convert to paying customers.
Since I’m engaging with customers daily, I am naturally the liaison between our engineering team and our customers. Product issues, feedback, and more are filtered through me on their way to the engineering team. And when engineering is ready to release a new update or perform maintenance, I’m the one going out to customers and letting them know what’s going on.
On the data science front, I produce ad-hoc and ongoing reports for engineering and product teams on a variety of metrics. We look at everything from marketing data (signups, sources, conversions, etc.) to product data (usage, performance, etc.). Analyzing how customers use our product and how it improves their network performance over time teaches us a lot about our product — the good and the bad.
FYG: What kind of experience or degree would someone need to get a job like yours? How did you obtain that experience/degree?
JB: My degree was in computer engineering, which isn’t directly related to what I do on a daily basis. However, having technical context for marketing a highly technical product certainly helps. I’m able to implement marketing systems without significant help from engineering, which allows them to focus on product development.
Most of my experience comes from my days as a gamer and being a community leader. By leading various online communities, I developed the skills to manage large groups of people.
FYG: What advice would you give to kids in high school, especially kids from rural areas, who want to get into esports?
JB: To be successful in esports, I would certainly recommend exploring both the consumer side and the business side. Of course, play lots of video games. Enter tournaments, join a gaming organization, grow your relationships with other gamers. Don’t be afraid to start your own community.
On the business front, go out and discover what is going on in the esports industry. Look at the data: there’s tons of it! Look at how esports companies are evolving their products. Esports has many dimensions. Don’t be afraid to explore them all. You may discover that while you enjoy playing games and competing, you enjoy developing products for esports even more!
FYG: What kind of lifestyle does your career allow you to live? What sort of salary and work environment can people typically expect from a position or field like yours?
JB: Haste is a startup, so naturally it is very different than your standard big corporation. With startups, you often start at a relatively low salary while revenue is low in exchange for equity. As the startup grows and gets more funding, you hope to get to a next stage of revenue, and ultimately profit. Once the company begins to see profit, employees are rewarded with benefits and salary increases.
In regards to work environment, Haste is a pretty typical startup. Our office is at ATDC, an Atlanta-based startup accelerator. We have a dedicated office suite on a shared floor with dozens of other startups. At ATDC, something is always going on whether it’s a class on customer discovery or a tour of the facility with high schoolers or entrepreneurs. A typical day at Haste involves a lot of hard work and video games. (Of course, we have to test our own product.)