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A woman-founded startup gives voice to women in the gaming industry

A woman-founded startup gives voice to women in the gaming industry

The US video game industry is big business: $56.9 billion in 2020, according to NDP Group. That’s more than the income of the film and music industries combined. Women make up almost half (46%) of all gamers, according to new zoo.

Although more women have become gamers, the gaming community and culture is still hostile towards them. “To hide the fact that they are women, 75% of women who play games with headsets play without their voice commands,” said Rebecca Brock Dixon, co-founder and CEO of the*gameHERs.

Four founders who are experts in community building as well as diversity, inclusion and equity believe that female gamers represent an untapped market opportunity and have created a community where female gamers can connect. “Some national studies reveal that gambling motivations differ across cultures by gender,” writes Tomoko Yokoi in the*gameHERs website and app proves to be a welcoming oasis for women players (and even men).

Three of the four founders of the*gameHERs started, developed and sold a community network for future and new parents called Mommybites. Two had strong ties to the gaming industry. Dixon’s family has been in the gaming and esports business for quite some time. They are part of the original ownership of Envy Gaming, owner and operator of the global esports franchise Team Envy. Heather Ouida transitioned from the world of parents into product development, focusing on the esports/gaming space for Kidtagious Entertainment.

Verta Maloney, one of the co-founders, has a 25-year career in diversity, equity and inclusion.

“The pandemic has triggered a period of exceptional growth for the [gaming] sector,” writes Bartosz Skwarczek in The platform has also benefited from the social awareness of the social justice movement during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The four co-founders were fascinated by the fact that women made up nearly half of all gamers. They wanted to better understand this market. They conducted surveys and focus group research with thousands of female gamers and attended a Pax convention. It is the Comicon of the gaming world and includes tabletop, arcade and video games.

Even with women speaking on panels and nonprofits dedicated to advancing women in the industry, the foursome found there was a need for a place where women could talk about gaming. “Women who gamble usually have a hard time finding other women to gamble with,” Dixon said. Whether players, employees, executives or founders, the*gameHERs mission is to give voice to women in the industry.

the*gameHERs website was launched in March 2020. Without ignoring the toxicity of the industry, the site focuses on how gaming has improved the lives of women, the friendships they have formed, the skills they have acquired and the paths to careers.

“We like to say that we’re the place that shines a light on the positives of the game,” Dixon said. That’s not to say the platform isn’t tackling industry toxicity. It does!

“From day one, the video industry was for boys [and not girls]”, Dixon said. Not surprisingly, the public perception was that gambling was a male activity, with a boys’ club attitude that was antagonistic to women who gambled or were in the industry. It was difficult for women to become a director and C-levels away.

“It’s not that women don’t want to play with men,” Dixon said. “They want an environment where men follow the rules to play nice!”

“We support anything positive towards women in gaming,” Dixon said. It could be leagues with women-only tournaments. Or, because gambling is an activity that physical strength does not give advantage to menit could be having men and women competing in the same league.

The challenge for the startup was to manage a finite set of resources, both human and financial. When the quartet wanted to create an app, expanding the*gameHERs resources became a priority.

When the co-founders came up with the idea for the*gameHERs, they had no intention of raising angel and venture capital. But, as they better understood the needs of the market and how they wanted to meet them, they changed their minds about raising capital. The quartet wanted to advance the role, voice, image, and power of women in the world of gaming, which would require building a community app that would provide tools to create content, build communities, and socialize. empower.

The quartet made a small increase in friends and family. They participated in the Tampa Bay Wave TechDiversity Accelerator last summer. “It really helped lay the foundation for our increase,” Dixon said. They have put together an impressive advisory board that includes John Brock III, retired CEO, Coca Cola Enterprises; Nicole LaPointe Jameson, CEO of Evil Geniuses; Jennifer Saxton, Founder and CEO, Tot Squad; Kaili Vernoff, actress; and Maria Tamellini, Founder and CEO, Gamer Safer.

They also had ties to the investment arm of Riot Games, one of the major game publishers. The company acknowledges the lack of diversity in the industry and the misconduct that has occurred. He is a strong supporter of the Founders and invested in the*gameHERs. In addition to the pre-seed $975,000 the startup raised, it raised $1.2 million in a seed round, Dixon commented.

Dixon has also had many conversations with venture capitalists who invest in early-stage companies. You don’t hear that often. “The fundraiser was a really fun experience as it was an opportunity to share the message about the company [and the market]”Dixon said. They were educating VCs on the opportunity of women gamers and setting the stage for their next raise and other female game startup founders. LinkedIn was a great tool to grow her network.

When limits are placed on your business growth, how do you get around them?