By Jamie Abbey
Kindred Group’s newly appointed Chief Product Officer, Fredrik Kjell, has worked at Kindred for two years. He was previously based in Wimbledon before moving to his native Stockholm last autumn. Fredrik has worked in the online gambling industry for 10 years, starting out as a management trainee at Bwin before focusing on B2B products for Ongame, Amaya, and NYX.
We caught up with Fredrik for a quick Q&A.
Can you tell us about your previous experience, and what attracted you to join Kindred in 2016?
Joining the Bwin Stockholm office and the Ongame poker network in 2008 was a dream come true for me. I have always had a passion for sport, gambling, and technology and combining that with an online based business model was a match made in heaven. I spent my first 8 years in the industry in that office but under different owners.
My assignments varied a bit over the years, but I worked primarily with product development and commercial management. Highlights from these years were when Ongame was sold to Amaya, when Amaya entered the regulated New Jersey market and the sale of the Intercasino.com brand, on a platform my team had built.
During my time in B2B, I got a chance to meet a lot of operators and Kindred (then Unibet Group) always stood out as best in class. The approach to me on the B2B side was always respectful, there was a lot of competence in the organisation and the group continuously demonstrated financial success. The opportunity to join came about when Daniel Eskola needed a replacement for the role of “Head of Gaming” and besides the allure of joining a great company, I was also intrigued to expand my career with B2C. I applied, went through the process, got the job and packed up my family and moved to Wimbledon.
What achievement are you most proud of during your time at Kindred?
I am happy about having helped a few colleagues move into new roles and challenges and see them progress their careers. On a more tangible side, starting up our own game development in the Casino vertical is something that comes to mind. My teams and I have also worked hard on securing good commercial agreements for the wider Group, which supports our long-term profitability targets.
What makes Kindred a great place to work for you?
For me it is a mix of several things; the chance to make an impact, amazingly flexible working conditions, a warm atmosphere amongst colleagues, the open-door policy from Henrik and the executive management team, opportunity to stay in the company despite changing location, offering great products and brands to our customers and working alongside devoted and talented people.
When you look at the product trends in the gambling industry, what excites you the most?
There is a lot. The overarching technological trends will fundamentally affect our industry and our customers. Adapting to that change is a real challenge and opportunity. Take voice, for instance, we have just started to scrape the surface of how that will influence our daily lives and I am sure we will see a very wide adaptation rate by consumers. In order to cement our market-leading position, we need to embrace all the new tech that is made available and change accordingly.
Very exciting. I am also very interested in the change of power balance between operators and suppliers, where a big trend is that operators take more control which pushes suppliers to adapt. That change is fuelled by continued consolidation which is driven by regulation. With everything happening, more pressure on true skill and experience will come and hopefully, that leads to better products and more value for money for our customers.
Another important trend for us in this industry is the localisation of the offerings. We are seeing much more appetite for local adaptation and several niche operators and suppliers popping up. For us as a Group, this means we can be more relevant and again, provide a better product to our customers. My view on 'product' is that product is what the customer experiences. It is not the individual games or channels – it is the whole life cycle. We are already good today but I am hoping to contribute so that we are consistently seen as the best.
Before rounding off I want to mention “intelligence” in the sense that the products we offer are fitted on an individual level. This is of course not something new and we are already working in that direction but as a product trend, it is massive. I see a lot of suppliers opening up their real-time data streams but also a lot of new companies popping up with interesting solutions. All this enables us to build really cool products and being part of that, is truly exciting.