DEREK WATFORD

CO-FOUNDER, HIGH POINT GAMER

" SET TIME ASIDE TO PURPOSELY CARE FOR YOUR OWN MENTAL HEALTH BECAUSE INNOVATION CAN BE TAXING ON YOU FINANCIALLY, PHYSICALLY, AND EMOTIONALLY."

- DEREK WATFORD, CO-FOUNDER, HPG

Pioneering Esports has been a journey filled with many lessons on the upside and downside of innovation. I have learned that innovation can be a lonely place for a visionary.

I established my presence in the Esports industry early on by co-founding High Point Gamer (HPG) to produce competitive video game tournaments for the youth in my community. The goal was to give teens something productive and economically beneficial to do with their gaming skills. At the time I did not know how innovative those goals were.

After several successful tournaments, I was presented with the opportunity to participate in the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) inaugural 2k league, thanks to pro gamer oLarry. This opportunity gave me a behind the scenes look at how a large well established organization launched their new Esports arm. The potential of Esports immediately clicked for me and I could see all the additional areas that were ripe for
innovation.

At the time, I didn’t know that innovation was a form of hallucination. I was seeing something that wasn’t there yet and I was trying to convince others to see it. I remember the countless meetings where I drove away doubting myself because I had failed to receive the support I wanted. I learned that due to the lack of my own personal resources, I had to forgo actual innovation. I had to suppress seeing 10 steps ahead and focus on getting others just to step 1 so that I could secure the resources to get to step 10.

I learned that innovation requires you to have the fire to pursue creating something that doesn’t exist and the stamina to keep that fire even when doubt and your present day responsibilities weigh on you. In the midst of innovation there will be numerous forces calling for you to quit and settle for what is already there over working through the difficult task of creating what isn’t there.

My advice for others with innovative visions would be to understand the journey will be lonely. If you start out knowing that others may not understand your vision, it will shield you from doubting yourself when they don’t. Know that you will spend a lot of time on educating others. Make time to recharge yourself. Set time aside to purposely care for your own mental health because innovation can be taxing on you financially, physically and emotionally. I have seen the road to innovation be a death sentence for others because they didn’t properly prioritize self care.

Evaluate how well your current location can support your innovation. I was lucky to start my innovative journey in a city like Tampa. Innovative opportunities in Tampa are everywhere right now. Tampa has seen an influx of real estate, technology and community investments. It is located in a prime area that provides access to several connected cities such as Orlando, Miami, and St Petersburg. It is a great place to build a business and have a life.

HIGH POINT GAMER

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