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In a nutshell, Tolga Onuk is an athlete, a designer, and a serial entrepreneur with a myriad of experience in digital technologies and gaming. Driven by a passion to transform industries, he's built multiple companies and is currently acting as a mentor & advisor to early-stage startups in the US and Asia. Most recently, he served as the Managing Partner & CEO of New Wave eSports (CSE:NWES), an acquisition, investment and technology development company that is focused on competitive gaming. Prior to this he founded and served as CEO of Beverly Hills-based Thunderbolt Studios, which (among other things) created Curbstand to help solve valet & parking issues in major cities, and Grassp to provide a convenient way to discover premium-quality cannabis for delivery through licensed dispensaries. All after starting his career in design and technology leadership roles at leading companies like EA and Spin Master.
"Let the beauty of what you love be what you do."
- Mevlâna Rumi
After graduating from TED Ankara College Foundation Private High-School, Tolga studied Statistics and Computer Science at Baskent University, where he competed as the team captain of “Baskent KNIGHTS” – one of the first Turkish National Football League teams. Tolga was the team representative and co-founding member of the Turkish American Football Federation which was adopted by the Ministry of Youth and Sports of the Turkish Republic. After graduating with double majors on science, Tolga worked at CE Technology in Ankara and started his professional career in digital technologies. In 2005, Tolga moved to San Diego to receive his post-graduate education on Interactive Design & 3D Animation and to continue playing football in California.
Tolga worked for Spin Master in Los Angeles for 4 years where he co-designed “Tech Deck Live”, one of the first 3D web-based MMO games. After his Spin Master experience, Tolga designed digital applications, games, and marketing campaigns for brands like Ford, Google, Spotify, MTV™, Cinemax, Warner Records, Disney, and Marriott Hotels while leading development teams at the Los Angeles-based Interactive Agencies, Sabertooth and HYFN. Later on, Tolga Onuk led the global user acquisitions initiative at Electronic Arts Mobile where he designed and directed the promotional campaigns of the majority of the EA Mobile game titles including Battlefield™, Sims™, NBA Live™, Need For Speed™, Real Racing™, Fifa Soccer™, Madden NFL™, Tetris™ and Simpson’s Tapped Out™. Tolga Onuk also designed the EA™ Mobile consumer-facing brand in 2012.
In 2013, Tolga co-founded “Curbstand” in a partnership with the Nclusive Venture Studio in Hollywood, Los Angeles. Tolga designed Curbstand’s web & mobile payment platform which became the first SaaS solution specifically built for valet & parking companies. Curbstand received $1.1M private foreign investment after its MVP launch. Immediately afterwards, Tolga opened Thunderbolt Studios in Beverly Hills. In 2014, Thunderbolt acquired another partnership with California’s first legal Cannabis delivery startup “Grassp”. Thunderbolt built Grassp’s web & mobile communications platform while Tolga was leading Grassp’s product and marketing initiatives. Similar to Curbstand, Grassp received $1.5M angel investment shortly after its MVP launch.
Thunderbolt worked with 40+ startups, built 12 MVP applications and the company helped to raise $8.5M combined seed investments for various early-stage technology ventures. Thunderbolt also built web & mobile applications for global brands like Beats By Dre, Verizon Wireless, and Alaska Airlines. As a leading digital product development company, Thunderbolt hosted several technology events in the Greater Los Angeles area.
In 2018, Thunderbolt reincorporated as Thunderbolt Creative Digital Gaming Inc. and the company got acquired by the Toronto-based New Wave Esports Corporation (Formerly Known as New Wave Holdings). After the acquisition of Thunderbolt, Tolga Onuk appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of New Wave Holdings. As one of New Wave’s founding team members, Tolga Onuk kickstarted the venture and the company made multiple investments into various early-stage startups. Under Tolga’s leadership New Wave started the reverse merger process in order to become the world’s first publicly traded eSports investment company - listed on the Canadian Stock Exchange (CSE: NWES).
Currently, Tolga is a private investor of New Wave Esports Corp. and he is an advisor to early-stage startups in the US and Asia.
Tolga Onuk resides in West Hollywood, California.
According to Goldman Sachs’ esports investment 2018 report, we saw $1.4 billion ($1.07bn) invested into the industry last year – a 90% year-on-year increase. In fact, since 2013, there has been over $3.3bn of venture capital investment within esports-related startups. One of those investing in the esports landscape has been New Wave Holdings Corp. Founded in 2018 with New Wave Chief-Executive Officer, Tolga Onuk, New Wave hopes to become the first publically traded esports investment company.
ESTNN: Being already experienced in both the technology and gaming industries, what would you say gives you an edge in terms of making New Wave a prominent mark on the map?
"It's not that we are, right now, in a position that we can say we are the big fish, but at the same time, we've made it a great beginning in our venture. All the investments that we're making are in alignment with our goals, our vision."
Tolga Onuk, CEO and Founder of Thunderbolt, seeks to take on the challenge of finding Angels and celebrities in LA that are interested in investing in tech, and privately matchmaking them with curated opportunities, who have been mentored and have a higher success probability. He developed Thunderbolt Capital, a private platform that connects investors and influencers to emerging new technologies and digital startups.
Mobile Trends 2015: Looking For A Bottom Line?
Consider the following takeaway, as given by Tolga Onuk, CEO of Thunderbolt Studios: "2015 is, more than anything else, the year the smartphones and mobile tablets will be used more than all other devices in the market," Onuk said. And the way we will use them? It will lead us to expect more, to get what we expect from our mobile devices sooner...
Attending networking events is cool, speaking at a technology panel is awesome, hearing from innovative entrepreneurs is inspiring. Please feel free to drop a note to say Hello. Your time and consideration are greatly appreciated.
7950 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 90046, United States