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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'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 Holdings (CSE:SPOR), an acquisition, investment and technology development 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 EA.
"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 Media & 3D Design 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 MMOs. 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 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” and became the company's Chief Product Officer in a partnership deal with the Nclusive Venture Studio in Los Angeles. Tolga designed Curbstand’s web & mobile payments platform which emerged as the first SaaS solution for valet & parking companies. Tolga opened the new Thunderbolt Studios Headquarters in Beverly Hills, California and Curbstand received $1.1 Million investment immediately after its launch. Later on, Thunderbolt Studios signed a new deal with California’s first legal Cannabis delivery startup “Grassp” and the company built an extensive cross-device communications, logistics & SaaS platform while Tolga was leading the product development as Grassp's Chief Product Officer. Similar to Curbstand, Grassp received $1.5 Million angel investment shortly after its MVP launch.
Thunderbolt Studios worked with dozens of startups, built several MVP applications and the company helped to raise $8.5 Million combined seed investments for various early-stage technology ventures. Thunderbolt Studios 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, Tolga started a new venture and he began working on a new digital platform called Thunderbolt CDG, which got acquired by the Toronto-based New Wave Holdings (Formerly known as New Wave Esports).
After the acquisition of Thunderbolt CDG, Tolga Onuk was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of the holdings and investment company. As one of New Wave’s founding team members, Tolga Onuk kickstarted the venture and the company made multiple investments into various startups. Under Tolga’s leadership New Wave started a reverse merger to become a public company and it started to be traded at the Canadian Stock Exchange on October 2019.
Currently, Tolga is the Vice President of Loop and Renewage Energy Solutions. He is a private investor & shareholder of several public companies including New Wave Holdings (CSE:SPOR), and he is an advisor to multiple early-stage startups in the US & Asia. As an international advisor, he also represents the Turkish Rugby Federation in the US.
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...
Attending the LATOKEN's monthly Energy & Sustainability Panel
Attending the LATOKEN's monthly Investments in the New Reality Panel
Attending LATOKEN's general panel about Investments in the new Reality
Attending the LATOKEN's monthly CleanTECH and EnvironmentalTech
Attending the LATOKEN's monthly Energy & Sustainability Panel