INTERVIEW: Toni Hannott, snakebyte

by Stuart Wilson, Tuesday 7 February 2017

Toni Hannott is CEO of snakebyte and has worked for the company since 2014. Established in 1997, with offices in Germany, Shenzhen, the US and Hong Kong, Snakebyte develops and distributes a wide selection of gaming hardware as well as well as branded consumer electronics. snakebyte is a Gold Sponsor at channel event DISTREE EMEA 2017 in Monaco this month. Channel EMEA caught up with Hannott to get the inside track on the company’s plans.

Channel EMEA (CE): What do you want to achieve at DISTREE EMEA 2017? What are your key goals for the event?

Toni Hannott (TH): 2017 will be an exciting year of growth for snakebyte as we embark on the most ambitious expansion plan in our company’s history. We believe there is huge potential for us to move into new sales territories and we’re excited at what we believe will prove a landmark year for the business. The British, French and Scandinavian markets are of paramount importance to us and we hope to grow these regions rapidly. At the show we would like to explore new sales opportunities, meet and greet old and new contacts and showcase the exciting new technologies which we believe will propel our company forward in 2017.

Racing drones

CE: What products and solutions will you be showcasing at DISTREE EMEA 2017? What do you want distributors to know about your portfolio?

TH: In terms of product offerings, snakebyte is transforming the business, launching new brands and entering categories which are new to us. This, we believe will allow us to rapidly grow market share. We’re launching a new brand named Honeycomb Aeronautical, specialising in professional grade flight simulation products. PC based flight sim is a niche market but an impressively loyal audience which remains lucrative and is crying out for innovation.

Zoopa is another new brand for us here at snakebyte, concentrating on drones and RC vehicles. Consumer drones continue to enjoy explosive growth and drones were the number one gift on many peoples Christmas list over the holidays. Our Zoopa products are developed in Germany for exceptional build quality, yet we’re able to launch at impressive prices with some superb innovations and features unheard of at our price points. We’re particularly concentrating on the racing drone sector of the market, a hobby which is rapidly gaining traction and has millions of loyal followers.

Through our snakebyte range of gaming accessories, we have a full and extensive range of products which will be launching alongside the highly-anticipated Nintendo Switch console which we are enormously excited by. Lastly, we have a new range of state-of-the-art media streaming TV boxes and kids tablets. We’re hoping to secure a license to the world’s most powerful name in family entertainment and hope to share more details at the show.

CE: Describe how snakebyte’s channel business has developed in the past 12 months? What trends have you seen and what have been the highlights for your business?

TH: Console sales have been stronger than many anticipated over the last eighteen months, with PlayStation 4 performing particularly well across Europe. Thanks to strong hardware sales, our snakebyte range of gaming accessories has helped the business grow and provided us with the opportunity to expand into adjacent categories. Our retail partners and customers have done a tremendous job working with us to promote the brand and we’d like to take this opportunity to thank them for their hard work. The quality of our range has transformed beyond recognition in the last eighteen months and the new packaging and line-looks have also been instrumental in us achieving a strong 2016.

Understanding Europe

CE: Which geographic areas and channels represent the greatest opportunity for growth for snakebyte in EMEA?

TH: The British, the French and the Scandinavian market will be in our focus for 2017.

CE: Why should distributors focus on your products? What makes your channel proposition better than competitors in the market?

TH: It’s a good question and we strongly believe there are a wealth of excellent reasons which make snakebyte the obvious choice over and above our competitors. First and foremost are our products, which we believe speak for themselves. We’re extremely focused on being first to market with products and ranges that we know the public are receptive to. We were the first third party to officially announce a full range of peripherals for Nintendo Switch. Quality is also paramount and our own internal development teams means that we are able to distinguish our offering from countless ‘me too’ products that are so typical in our sector.

The new products we have detailed above will I believe prove highly enticing to retail and consumer alike and we look forward to more announcements forthcoming through the year. Unlike many of our rivals, we are based in the centre of Europe. This holds many advantages. Communicating with us is simple as we are in the same time zones and of course we understand innately how Europe conducts business, what the needs of retail are and what key tenants make retail tick. Being in Europe allows us to facilitate quickly, cutting down on transportation time, logistics costs and the risk of non-returnable FOB shipments from Chinese factories for our customers.

Being based in Europe of course, does not preclude a truly global footprint. We serve the world’s biggest retailers such as Wal-Mart, Staples, GameStop, Media-Saturn, Electronics Boutique, GAME. Lastly, we have an excellent price-performance ratio – our customers have the choice between DDP, EXW and FOB shipments.

Highly flexible

CE: What sort of support do you offer distributors in terms of marketing, promotions and channel development activities?

TH: We are highly flexible in terms of participating in marketing and channel promotion activities which make a real difference to the territory in question. Traditionally, rivals push standard programmes to all regions which nine times out of ten fall flat and are ill-fitting to the market in question. We are happy to support our partners on a case-by-case basis, offering truly personal service which has already yielded impressive results.

CE: How quickly is your business growing in the EMEA region? What market trends have you identified that are impacting your business segment?

TH: We have experienced impressive growth over the last 24 months, growing our business by more than 50%. Once again, buoyant sales of current generation console hardware has allowed us to generate impressive revenue via our snakebyte brand of gaming accessories.

CE: How would you describe your overall go-to-market approach in the EMEA market? What are your overall channel goals and aims for 2017 in EMEA?

TH: Our channel goal for 2017 is to start business with the top-tier retailers on our snakebyte, media streaming and Zoopa products direct or indirect in the regions to which we are focusing - UK, France and Scandinavia.