Jude Ower is the CEO and Founder of Playmob and a Virgin Unite judge for this year’s #VOOM Impact Award. We recently spoke to Jude about Playmob and her experience using business as a force for good in the gaming industry.
How did you come up with the idea for Playmob?
I had spent ten years in the games industry and recognised the huge potential for games to tell a story and do good. My expertise was in games for education and training, and while working in this space I was also looking at how games can make a social impact – taking virtual actions and turning them into real impact. In 2010, when the Haiti earthquake happened, Zynga, the creator of Farmville, launched a campaign to raise funds for the victims. Farmville is a free-to-play game, which monetises through in-app purchase. They launched an in-app purchase, which players could buy, and a percentage of the cost went to Haiti relief. They raised over $1m in just a few days and had players engaging and spending money across the platform for the first time, playing for longer and spreading the word on social media. I loved this win-win model. This was a time where free-to-play games were becoming more popular and games studios had to really think about how they monetise their games and content. To solve a problem for games studios and global charities seemed like a no brainer. I had to create a platform to do this and that’s when Playmob was born.
How can charities and gaming come together as a force for good?
We identify perfect matches between player demographic, region, content and values. By getting the combination right, campaigns become an even greater success. We are currently building a platform to automate this process using algorithms and machine learning, so we can find more matches and successful campaigns. We ensure that we always show the player their impact, i.e. they planted a tree, provided a meal and helped fund a child through school. The messaging is a really powerful engagement tool and provides transparency for the player – ensuring they know the good they have contributed to, just by playing their favourite games.
What impact does the company have on people and the planet?
The impact we can have on the planet and the people in it is endless. We work with over 200 charities and a huge variety of impact can be made. To date we have planted trees, fed thousands of people, built water wells, supported cyberbullying helplines, encouraged girls into coding, protected pandas, big cats and rhinos, and even endangered species of frogs.
What’s your advice for entrepreneurs starting out on their business journeys?
I think it is essential for today’s entrepreneurs to make a positive social impact with their business. This should be thought through from the very beginning. Consumers are savvy and want to support and buy from companies that make social impact. We are seeing trends of consumers switching brands for more purpose-led businesses so that they can buy a product or service and do good at the same time. I believe that business is the main driver to fix some of the worlds biggest issues. Start ups have the perfect canvas to weave good business practices in from the beginning. It will not only help attract and retain customers, but also ensure they hire the top talent too!
What’s next for Playmob?
We are currently raising investment to automate our platform and make it self serve. We want to significantly increase the number of campaigns we can drive through the platform, making an even bigger impact on our business and charity partners. We’re excited about growing Playmob, whilst making a positive bottom line impact on games and brands that deserve both the attention and the dollars of consumers. Lots more coming up, so keep your eyes on us.
Stay tuned to find out who the finalists are that we’ll be sending to the VOOM live final on June 28.