Jude Ower is founder and CEO of Playmob, a business that encourages people to give to a cause with every transaction they make online. Jude was winner of the Institute of Fundraising ‘New Innovation’ Award 2015 and she was shortlisted for the Veuve Clicquot ‘New Generation’ Business Woman Awards held in May 2015. Playmob was selected by Richard Branson and leaders in tech as the ‘One to Watch’ in 2015.
“…There are definitely more women working in games than even before. It is great to see and makes sense as gaming has become a much more balanced community of players. We need more women designing games for women…”
Creating a way for games and charities to connect to raise funds
I set up Playmob after seeing the impact Zynga had on running a fundraiser to help victims of the Haiti earthquake in 2010. In five days they raised $1.5m just by selling a sweet seed for players to buy and use on their virtual farms in Farmville. Not only did this have a huge impact on the cause, players engaged with the game on a whole new level.
It was this that made me want to create a way for games and charities to connect quickly and run fundraisers, taking all the heavy lifting and admin away from both sides, allowing them to do what they do best.
Games for good – a perfect win-win scenario
I had been working on using games for education and training, and loved the whole use of games for good, and another purpose other than purely entertainment. I wanted to put my skills to good use and actually started looking at how charities could build their own games.
This was quite a complicated model and it wasn’t obvious who would pay – the charities wouldn’t be able to cover the cost of development and maintenance of a game – not one that would generate enough income to be meaningful for them. Seeing the impact on both sides, for cause and for business, of the two working together, to me was a perfect win-win scenario. Not only could I give back and help meaningful causes, but I could help businesses grow too.
The best way to describe our business model is a revenue share, after the charity donation is agreed, we have a fee which comes out of the remainder. It is a great incentive all round as we want the campaign to be as successful as possible for everyone.
The changing demographics of gaming and what this means for Playmob
The fact that more women are playing games, and now it is around 50/50 split, means a lot for us. mums and Millennials are the most vocal and active when it comes to buying from the brands that are giving back, and demanding more brands give back to causes. For us this means that mums and Millennials playing games will love seeing a cause linked to items and actions in-game – if they can play, have fun and give back, what isn’t there to love?!
There are definitely more women working in games than even before. It is great to see and makes sense as gaming has become a much more balanced community of players. We need more women designing games for women.
Focusing on STEAM subjects in school
I 100% cannot wait to see coding being taught in schools alongside maths and English. This is SO important! And from younger years especially. Our Chairman is opening a school in London to focus on STEAM [science / technology / engineering / arts / maths] subjects, and I hope to see more schools follow this example.
Girls getting super creative – using tech to build and realise their ideas
To get more girls into tech, I feel it is important to show them the possibilities, what can be created and to allow them to be super creative and want to use tech to build and realise their ideas.
Starting at a young age is also key. Apps for Good and Stemettes do such an amazing job of this. To get more women into tech, the key is to hire them. To learn about tech and coding there are some great groups set up for women such as RailsGirls, which take place globally. Having groups for women is a great way for people to get into tech and to realise the potential and breadth of opportunities which exist in the tech space.
Coming up for Playmob
We have been really focused on the games space and our next move is to work with brands and agencies, which we are really excited about. We have repurposed our platform as an engagement platform to connect any action online to good causes while delivering business benefits too.
This will be a huge effort and we are working on a few big things currently, in an effort to make our platform fully self managed by a client. This is taking up most of my time and I am loving it, however I do also love giving back to the startup community by mentoring and I am curating a book called Startup Secrets Club, which is anonymous secrets, by startups for startups, to share the good, the bad and the ugly!