In a League of Their Own
Jay Melamed, CEO and co-founder of XP League, talks with Franchising USA about the rise of esports franchises.
Jay, tell us about yourself and how you came to start this innovative franchise.
I received my MBA from the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and live with my wife and business partner, Eva, and our four children in Raleigh, North Carolina. Prior to co-founding XP League, I sold my successful energy efficiency and insulation start-up and also served as Regional Vice President with a publicly traded business consolidator.
XP League — the first-to-market youth esports league franchise that bridges the gap between conventional youth athletics and competitive esports — was founded in June of 2020 during the height of the pandemic. We launched franchising in September and just signed our 20th territory. We currently operate in 12 states across the U.S. and announced our first territory in Canada in December. We’re looking to grow aggressively both domestically and internationally and look forward to adding additional territories in 2021.
What makes XP League so unique?
For decades, children have learned about sportsmanship, teamwork and positive behaviors from youth sports participation, while building long-lasting friendships. For those reasons and many others, parents often jump at the chance to enroll their children in a recreational or travel sports league. But, ask parents if they have such a positive association with their kids playing video games and, well, they’re likely to feel a bit differently. As the only esports franchise modeled after classic youth sports organizations, XP League is trying to change that misperception, while providing entrepreneurs an opportunity to become part of the esports industry and be in business for themselves, but not by themselves.
Additionally, the esports market is primed for explosive growth and is expected to surge to nearly $1.6 billion in revenue in 2023. We’ve tapped into that growth potential, while allowing entrepreneurs to ramp up quickly through the our “League in a Box” business model. At discovery, each franchisee is given a comprehensive kit that includes league and tournament guidance and support, team logos, branded gear, exclusive coaching and esports brand partnerships, and more.
Beyond our attractive franchise model, XP League is a rewarding experience for parents and children and teaches inclusivity, friendship, team building and competitive spirit. I also think it’s worth noting that while esports is typically viewed as a male-dominated sport, some of our best teams are led by females and we’re excited to see this trend continue.
Who is your ideal franchisee?
Ideal for entrepreneurs new to franchising, as well as veteran operators in a variety of verticals, XP League’s simplistic operations allows franchisees to open additional territories and saturate a market much quicker than other industries. Since the XP League model is so easy-to-run and nomadic, a local civic center, elementary school media center, empty office or retail space can quickly become an esports hub. There’s a vast white space available for entrepreneurs interested in monetizing a career in esports.
Why is now the ideal time to start franchising, given the current climate?
Esports has been gaining traction over the last decade and the current pandemic has only added fuel to the fire for this growing industry. XP League provides those interested in esports and youth programming an affordable start-up opportunity with its low capital expenditure and easy to scale business model. Additionally, an esports franchise can be run from anywhere. You don’t need a traditional brick and mortar location, but rather, could even utilize an existing empty building. You just need a league commissioner (franchisee), coach, teams and a space to get started.
What are your franchising goals for 2021?
We just announced the signing of our first international franchise agreement in Canada, which is a huge accomplishment for our team considering we just launched our franchising program in September. We have aggressive plans to make XP League an international juggernaut in the esports industry and will look to continue our domestic and international expansion through franchising.