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Lee McNeil could have been forgiven for going crazy when his gaming-based business Tebex was bought by an Israeli tech giant for £22m ($29m).

The entrepreneur was just 16 when he founded Tebex in 2011 after spotting an opportunity in the market to create new revenue streams for gamers.

By the time is was snapped up 11 years later by Tel Aviv-based  Overwolf for £22m the monetisation platform had helped creators earn over $500m.

However, thoughts of a career break or even an early retirement couldn’t have been further from McNeil’s mind.

“I’m just a normal guy,” he said. “From a young age I’ve learnt to handle money so that side of things didn’t faze me. I think I did the deal on the Friday and I was back at my desk two days later.

“What excited me was the opportunity to grow Tebex. I didn’t know everything and Overwolf has opened us up to bigger contacts.

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“The industry has got so much potential and I’m learning all the time from Overwolf.

“Somebody once told me a quote. ‘If you ask a question you’re an idiot for 30 seconds but if you don’t ask a question you’re an idiot for a lifetime.’ The great thing is I’m learning every day.”

Even before he launched Tebex from his parents’ back bedroom, McNeil had showed his entrepreneurial talent.

“I used to sell sweets and cans of Coke at school,” he recalled. “My rucksack would be bulging with stock but I ran into problems when I started to sell to teachers!”

However it was his love of gaming that inspired him to set up Tebex.

“I was learning how to program and games like Minecraft were growing in popularity,” he said. “People were creating a Paypal link to make money but the process wasn’t automatic.

“I thought if I could create a frictionless payment platform I’d have a business I could charge for.”

The business was originally named Buycraft as a Bukkit plugin for Minecraft Servers to monetise their game servers.

Tebex is a checkout and payments platform in the gaming industry. Working with modders, publishers and studios, the company’s technology simplifies managing much of the payments process, including global payments acceptance, fraud, chargebacks, sales tax and compliance.

After struggling with his GCSEs he went to college to take his AS Levels but walked out to focus on his business.

“The next day I got a one room office in Nottingham and threw myself into Tebex,” he said. “I bought the domain name for £20 and I was away.

“One of the benefits of starting young is that a couple of grand a month feels like a lot of money.

“I had no great overheads and my parents would ask me when I was going to get a proper job!”

Fast-forward to the present day, and Tebex now manages the creation of web stores and game servers, working with high-profile games including MinecraftARK: Survival EvolvedRust and Grand Theft  Auto.

Explaining how it works he said: “Imagine you have a game. Our technology enables you to monetise it. We handle all the processes and pay the creators while they focus on making games.”

In December 2021 alone, Tebex paid out $10.5m to creative partners.

It was about this time that McNeil reached out on LinkedIn to Uri Marchand, CEO of Overwolf, after recognising that they shared the same vision.

“We had a good chat and within eight months they’d acquired us for $29m,” he said.

Overwolf is the guild for in-game creators and has raised over $150m in investment.

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With over 95,000 creators and 31 million monthly active users, Overwolf is the all-in-one platform that enables creators to build, distribute, and monetise in-game apps and mods.

“It seemed like the next natural step,” explained McNeil. “Joining Overwolf enabled Tebex to expand our offerings to more game servers, publishers, and more importantly allowed us to further grow the communities of our existing game servers.”

When Tebex was bought he jumped at the chance to continue growing the company within the wider Overwolf group.

“What excites me is what happens next,” he said.