How A 'Failed Rapper' Is Now Making Millions Developing Mobile Games
The Aussie-raised entrepreneur has had an incredible journey from "raps to apps".
Five years ago, Sam Ratumaitavuki was best known for having his washboard abs splashed across local nightclub flyers promoting him as their guest MC.
He was a fledgling rapper named Fortafy who aspired to a loftier calling than the security guard and factory gigs he'd previously worked.
With a natural curiosity for the tech world and a passion for social media, Sam created a Facebook profile on September 13, 2013 that changed his life.
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In an unexpected move, he decided the 'Fortafy' page would have no trace of his music, but would highlight shareable video content from others instead.
"People called me a 'failed' or 'meme' rapper because they didn't understand [the page's content]," he told 10 daily.
"Which was fine, I knew I was early."
He'd enjoyed a hint of hip-hop fame -- supporting acts like Wiz Khalifa on tour, recording with locals like 360 and Will Singe, even scoring a Top 10 hit in New Zealand -- but he began to move away from that life to immerse himself in the digital space.
Alongside his business partner Mark Martins, Sam worked around the clock to grow the Facebook page's follower count and in a handful of years, built it to a staggering 15.2 million.
For the first six months, the page made zero dollars. It began generating five to six figures per month through a Swedish-based clickbait business (as Sam described, "those annoying 'OMG, You Won't Believe Number 4!' type links").
The partners generated additional early revenue by helping newly-coined "social influencers" make money from their growing fanbases.
"Back then [influencers] didn't know how to make money, so we had them posting our links and gave them rev share. This was instrumental in getting contacts for when I eventually released mobile games, as I knew everyone in the social media space and got them to create [promotional] content."
Once his 'Fortafy' Facebook page had reached millions of likes, Sam looked closely at the analytics and identified his greatest career opportunity to date.
"In 2015, there was a big switch from desktop traffic to mobile traffic. Something like 95 percent of people were now using mobile devices for social media. After trialing different online businesses, I felt mobile games would be best," he recalled.
After spending six months researching the industry he became fixed on the "casual games" sector for non-gamers, where his social media mastery would be best placed.
"It's free to download the games, meaning no cost to the user, and the games generate money through ads [which constantly appear] when you die, skip a level, unlock characters, etc," he explained.
Sam launched Fortafy Games and Perfect Tap Games with new business partners two years ago, and has already earned millions as one of mobile gaming's most inspiring marketers.
The first game he published was the second most downloaded game of 2016 in the world and has over 220 million downloads to date.
Its success lied in its simplicity -- you tap the screen repeatedly to make a colour ball advance -- not to mention the 700 promo videos pushed by social media stars like Cardi B, King Keraun and Julius Dein to millions of followers.
Other casual games quickly followed with similarly catchy names like Thug Worm and Chicken Scream, the latter also shot to number one.
Mobile is by far the most lucrative segment in global gaming and is projected to make up more than half of the games market by 2020, according to last year's Global Games Market Report.
Mobile gaming on smartphones and tablets hit $46.1 billion, or 42 percent of all revenues, in 2017. Consumers worldwide also downloaded an astonishing 178.1 billion mobile apps to their connected devices, with this figure projected to grow to 258 billion app downloads by 2022.
Now in his early 30s, Sam's lifestyle is far removed from his time spent growing up in working class Logan, Queensland.
While he won't disclose his personal fortune, the New Zealand-born high-flyer lives in a $7 million penthouse he bought outright this year with wife Shana and their daughter Egypt, five, on Dubai's exclusive Palm Jumeirah island.
He owns a fleet of luxury cars and takes trips to exotic destinations, flaunting his success via a social media feed that would put any flashy mogul to shame ("Bring ya diamond testers if you wanna see for ya self!" he told followers in one post, presumably questioning the authenticity of his jaw-dropping jewelry collection).
Sam said he spends every waking minute nowadays "making sure our social media pages stay active and researching new viral trends, hoping to catch one early enough to be able to monetise it.
"My team and myself work around the clock, we have business partners all over the world," he shared.
"If I'm awake, I'm available and ready to work."
Featured Image: Sam Ratumaitavuki, Instagram.
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