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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 marketing. Driven by a passion to transform industries, he built multiple companies in the past, and now he is on a mission to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy as the Vice President of Loop EV Charging Network. Previously, he served as the Managing Partner & CEO of New Wave Holdings (CNSX:SPOR), an acquisition and investment company. 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 Spin Master and Electronic Arts.
"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. During his college years, Tolga was the team captain of “Baskent KNIGHTS” – one of the first Turkish National Football League teams. Tolga was also a co-founding member of the Turkish Amateur American Football Federation which got adopted by the Ministry of Sports of the Turkish Government.
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 study Interactive Media and 3D Design and he continued to play football in California while receiving his post-graduate education.
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 product 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 where he created the promotional campaigns of all 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's consumer-facing brand in 2012.
In 2013, Tolga co-founded Curbstand and he became the company's Chief Product Officer in a partnership deal with the Nclusive Venture Studio. Tolga designed Curbstand’s brand and the cross-device payments platform which emerged as the first SaaS solution for the valet & parking companies. Curbstand received $1.1 Million investment immediately after the AppStore launch. While building Curbstand, Tolga established Thunderbolt Studios headquarters in Beverly Hills in the beginning of 2014. Later on, Curbstand expanded into the 8 most populated cities in the United States, parked 1 million cars, and the company raised $6.9 Million total investments from angel investors & VC firms.
In 2014, Tolga Onuk signed a new partnership with California’s first legally approved Cannabis On-Demand Delivery platform “Grassp” and Thunderbolt built an extensive cross-device SaaS platform for the company. Similar to Curbstand, Grassp also received $1.5 Million investment shortly after the Beta release.
Thunderbolt worked with dozens of startups, built several MVP applications and the company helped to raise $8.5 Million combined seed investments for multiple startups. 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 Studios hosted several technology events in the Greater Los Angeles area. In 2015, Thunderbolt and Tolga Onuk received 3 Best of Industry awards from IAC for the digital campaigns created for FOX Sports, and the company was featured as an industry leader by Clutch.
In 2018, Tolga started a new venture and he began working on a platform called Thunderbolt CDG, which got acquired by the Toronto-based New Wave Holdings (Formerly known as New Wave Esports). After the acquisition of his company, Tolga Onuk was appointed as the Managing Partner & 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 technology, and competitive gaming companies. Under Tolga’s leadership New Wave started a reverse merger and became a publicly traded company at the Canadian Stock Exchange in October 2019.
Currently, Tolga Onuk is the Vice President of both Loop EV Charging Network & Renewage Energy Solutions and he is on mission to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy. He is an investor of several companies including New Wave Holdings (CNSX:SPOR), and he is an advisor to multiple early-stage startups in the US & Asia. As a senior international advisor, he also represents the Turkish National American Football League in North America.
Tolga Onuk resides in Westwood, Los Angeles.
New Wave: The first publically traded esports investment company?
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.
Taking Competitive Gaming & Esports Investment To The Next Level
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."
There’s a Tech Thunder Roaring Through Los Angeles
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: 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...