Ujogo CEO Eric Gonzales, poker player, taking a gamble on a market with "legal grayness"

Lessons learned from entrepreneur by John Shinal
October 31, 2007 last edited July 10, 2008
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Given that it's an online gambling site that has launched its beta with a poker game, Ujogo has challenges that go beyond the usual ones experienced by most startups.

As founder and CEO Eric Gonzales tells's Bambi Francisco, a lot of investors were scared off by the "legal grayness" of Ujogo's business plan in the wake of the crackdown by federal authorities on other poker and gambling sites.

That forced Gonzales, a former partner with Doll Capital Management, to structure the company in a way to try and avoid legal problems, which is why Ujogo is free to play, and rather than winning real money, poker players on the site win points that can be redeemed for prizes.

The lesson Gonzales learned: "get great legal advice."

Still, some venture capitalists he knows remain skeptical, and one told him "flat out," that he thinks Ujogo is illegal.

Even so, Gonzales is willing to gamble that it will be a positive.

Since that VC thinks we're illegal, "that means we won't have a competitor coming out of his portfolio," Gonzales says.