Jude Ower is Founder and CEO of Playmob, a business that encourages people to give to a cause with every transaction they make online (when the player buys a new life in a game, it could trigger a donation to a particular charity). Playmob also helps businesses increase their CSR credentials. Jude is recently back from the annual SxSW music, film, and interactive conference and festival held in Austin, Texas.
Jude was a finalist for the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award: New Generation 2015. The award celebrates up and coming female entrepreneurial talent in the UK who show a genuine commitment to responsible and sustainable business practices whilst optimising a gap in today’s market.
We ‘learn by doing’
Games are engaging and motivating because they are interactive. We ‘learn by doing’, so when we interact with something we are more likely to learn and enjoy the process than solely being talked at. I loved this whole concept and saw this as a way I could combine a passion with making an impact.
In 2010 when the Haiti earthquake happened, social games developer, Zynga launched a campaign selling a virtual seed in Farmville, where 50% of the proceeds were going to relief for the victims. They raised $1.5m in five days, and not only that, the player base engaged dramatically to the point that players were spending for the first time and sharing the story on social media.
The perfect marriage of two unlikely partners
This made me think, what if all games were to give back in this way? We could not only give back to great causes and start solving some of the world’s most pressing issues, but also make a significant impact on business too. To me, this was the perfect marriage of two unlikely partners. Games tell a story, and causes need a story to engage the world to take action and help.
Building credibility and securing our first major partners – a bit ‘chicken and egg’
In 2011 we took part in an accelerator programme in the UK called Springboard (now TechStars). During this three month programme we met mentors and advisors, we shaped up our idea and pitch, found our first customers and pitched at the end of the process raising a seed round of £500k in 2012.
Springboard really helped to take down a lot of the barriers by getting us in front of a lot of people in a short space of time. Our biggest challenge though in the beginning was building up our credibility and securing those first major partners. It was a bit ‘chicken and egg’.
We worked with a few indie studios to help test the concept and gather data which then allowed us to springboard our engagement to the larger publishers showing them that if we apply our model to their games, these are the sorts of results they could expect.
“Ten no’s equal a yes!”
It was a lot of perseverance, and as a wise woman (Priya Lakhani, founder of Masala Masala) once told me, “Ten no’s equal a yes!” Getting these first partners on board was essential to also securing our funding, so we had to put all our energy into making this happen, and I will always be grateful for those early partners who believed in us and what we were doing, and took a ‘punt’ on working with a start-up.
Making every click count
Playmob is at an exciting time of growth. We are automating our platform in order to scale this year and this includes working with other organisations to implement our platform for customer and employee engagement.
Working with brands is a new element to our model and platform, which we are very excited about and linking games, brands and causes together will continue to make even more magic happen. Our big goal is to raise $1bn for causes via our methodology of ‘making every click count’.
The games industry: A community of friends
I have spent my entire career within the gaming industry in some capacity so I have no yardstick when it comes to the issue of women in tech. Others may have a different experience to me, but I have always felt very included in the games industry. It is like a community of friends. I have always been treated equally and I have been very fortunate where my previous bosses were very fair.
Encouraging girls to look at tech and games differently
To get more women and girls involved in the industry, we need to hire them. I am passionate about speaking at events and schools to encourage girls to look at tech and games differently. Once you see the variety of roles and what can be created within these roles, it suddenly opens up more opportunities within the industry that they might not have expected.
Following in the footsteps of Madame Clicquot
I am so honoured to be shortlisted for the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award. It adds such credibility to the work we do as well as Playmob as a business. It is also brilliant to be recognised in the bracket of a next generation of female entrepreneur, following in the footsteps of Madame Clicquot herself who is such an inspiration.
Being a sole founder, it is not often we get a chance to stop and really take a step back to give ourselves a pat on the back, so the nomination is a great way to celebrate achievements so far and the rest to come!