In a recent extensive interview with AffPapa, Joonas Karhu, Chief Business Officer of affiliate website Bojoko, explains his debut in the world of affiliates, provides tips for success in the iGaming industry, mentions the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on his line of work and discusses his favorite hobbies that he enjoys practicing in his free time.
Yeva: How did you first start in the affiliate industry? What were the initial challenges?
Joonas: My career in the gambling industry stretches back to 2006 when I was an online poker player. After five years of competing at an amateur level, I swapped digital chips for real chips when I went to university and began working as a croupier for the Finnish monopoly operator, Veikkaus (then Ray) to earn money while I studied.
I have been working in the gambling sector ever since. Over the years, I have held senior management positions at a number of large international casino companies. Then, in 2017, I was approached by Toni Halonen, CEO of Bojoko, who explained the concept behind the site and his vision for how it would change the industry for the better.
I knew I wanted to be a part of the Bojoko journey right there and then, so I accepted his offer for a job and have been working as Bojoko’s Chief business officer ever since.
Yeva: Do you think that affiliates are superior to operators? If so, what makes affiliates superior to operators and why?
Joonas: Not at all. Operators and affiliates are equal in the relationship that exists between the two parties. I would argue that currently the relationship can and often does favour operators – especially when it comes to terms and conditions and contractual security – but this is something I am looking to address through the Professional Gambling Affiliates Association.
Yeva: What is the key to a successful affiliate business?
Joonas: Putting the user before anything else. This includes responsible gambling and ensuring that as an affiliate, you are doing everything you can to make sure players are properly protected when playing at the online casinos you partner with. As such, affiliates should only work with licensed operators that are meeting the highest possible standards when it comes to safe gaming.
Successful affiliates also understand that this is a long-term game and that the decisions and actions they take should not be for short-term gains but rather to ensure they build a sustainable business that will stand the test of time.
Yeva: What approach would you suggest to operators in the beginning stages of a partnership?
Joonas: They need to see affiliates as equal partners, and offer them a fair deal and contractual security. In addition to that, they should also consider what they offer players and how the affiliate can help promote their brand to players.
We recently analyzed data from more than 300 casinos listed on Bojoko over the past three years to see what factors drive the greatest conversions in a bid to help operators increase conversions and FTDs. The full article can be found here with a couple of headline stats below:
- By offering low minimum deposits, operators could see 3-10 more FTDs per month on Bojoko
- By offering a no deposit bonus, operators could see 5-15 more FTDs per month on Bojoko
- By offering a no wagering bonus, operators could see up to 40 more FTDs per month on Bojoko
Yeva: Has Covid19 had any impact/effect on your business?
Joonas: Not really. We closed the office in March 2020 in line with lockdown restrictions in Malta and have allowed employees to work from home ever since. Other than adapting to new ways of working and in my case, leading the organization remotely, nothing has really changed at Bojoko.
Yeva: What are the main differentiating aspects of your affiliate business?
Joonas: We allow online casinos to create a listing and to tell their story through their own words, images and videos. Listed casinos are then rated and reviewed by our members based on the experience they receive. We do not push one casino over another and ultimately allow players to decide where they want to play.
We believe this is the most transparent and honest approach to listing casinos, allowing Bojoko to be truly independent and impartial.
Yeva: Which are your strongest markets? Are you planning on expanding your scope?
Joonas: The UK is our core market, but we also have a Finnish language version of Bojoko and a version aimed at players in Canada. We see huge potential for Bojoko and our concept in the US market and are currently going through the licensing process in states such as New Jersey and hope to be live in the market in the next few months.
Yeva: Are you planning on integrating more technological solutions in the future?
Joonas: Absolutely. We are always looking into new technologies to ensure that we deliver the best possible product to our members and visitors. To do this, we often look to what others are doing outside of the industry and go to great lengths to be the first to introduce them to the sector.
Yeva: Do you have any advice for people who are just starting out in the iGaming industry?
Joonas: I would start by getting a job with one of the best companies in the sector, whether an operator, supplier, regulator or affiliate. This is absolutely the best way to learn about the industry and how it works. Those that are quick to learn and keen to add to their skill set can then rise up through the ranks or look to start a venture of their own.
Yeva: Tell us about your biggest lesson learned throughout your journey.
Joonas: When taking a company or project from start-up to success, it takes a great deal of effort and hard work. As the company and/or project grows, so does the workload, which is why it is important to build a good team – whether in-house, outsourced or a combination of the two – so you can delegate when you need to.
Yeva: What are your main priorities regarding business in the upcoming year?
Joonas: We are very much focused on entering the US market and plan to be live in all regulated states by the end of next year. This is an ambitious plan, but we have the product and the team to make it work.
Yeva: Tell us a bit about yourself as a person. What are your hobbies? How much time do you spend on your project in average?
Joonas: Outside of work, I’m an avid golfer and a bookworm. I also like to exercise and stay healthy. I’m an enthusiastic traveler; my favourite countries I’ve visited include the United States, Turkey and Italy. When not playing golf or travelling, I like to unwind by watching Netflix and in particular: Chuck, House and How I Met Your Mother.
Website link: https://bojoko.com/
Interviewee: Joonas Karhu, Chief Business Officer at Bojoko