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Gamification constantly affects many aspects of people’s daily routine. Companies like Zynga, Foursquare and Nike+ have become an integral part of our everyday life. Badges, points, leader boards, levels, challenges and achievements motivate users to keep playing, checking-in, running that extra mile. Attracting people to do what they want to do in a much more pleasurable and social way gives certain fruitful benefits.
99 percent of the global economy is comprised of small and medium size businesses (SMBs). Most of them are found in hyper competitive environment and are continuously looking for opportunities to stand out and remain visible with their respective products or services. SMBs’ expenditures on online and digital media are approaching 70% of their totally allocated marketing budget. On the other hand there is online games industry growing at a pace of 18% CAGR and expected to reach $44B by 2014 in revenues (Asia, Europe, North America).
Building a tool that would combine both booming streams is the core concept of dopaWin – an ambitious early stage startup from Estonia aimed at revising current customer interaction state of affairs.
The company is building an online multiplatform connecting SMBs with their target customers based on gamification business model. Founders call it an addictive marketing tool that converts passion for online challenges into valuable offline rewards helping businesses to enhance awareness of their products or services in a simple and efficient manner by allowing precise segmentation of their target clientele.
In brief, interaction between SMBs and end-users will be based on integrated online games, where one can play and win real rewards promoted by business customers.
Preliminary meetings with a number of potential clients clearly indicated vivid interest towards the idea. Considering the early stage development, most of the negotiations are meant to understand customers’ needs and priorities, specifically when it comes to promoting their products or services.
The company is planning to setup flexible subscription plan for business customers for arranging tournaments within the platform. Additionally they plan to collect «in-game» fees from registered end-users willing to increase their chances to win rewards. When it comes to game developers, dopaWin is planning to charge for integration of their APIs into the platform, but apparently that becomes possible only once they build significant user database that is capable to provide added value to new games entering the market.
There are various services building their concept on gamification business model, such as FrogsLuck or SkillComp, but either they are payable or remain out-of-control from an end-user perspective. Unlike these services dopaWin provides equally distributed benefits to all involved parties where everyone takes full control over undertaken actions and provided features.
There are clear steps the team needs to undertake to build a prototype platform that will help them gaining initial traction. At this particular moment the company is considering itself an early-stage startup gradually moving from a concept idea to a minimum viable product with basic functionality that would serve as a prototype platform to approach potential SMBs. That would help getting valuable feedback to fine-tune the product and shortly release a beta version.
“Initially we expect very close cooperation with local SMBs to polish the platform and attract “early birds” as a case study or demo for upcoming customers. More likely we’ll offer free of charge service to beta clientele to gain their trust and let them evaluate full potential of gamification approach” – CEO Kirill Pojev states. His next step is to concentrate on media agencies with reliable customer database to promote the tool as a new approach to online marketing. Simultaneously dopaWin is planning to run viral campaigns and strong promotion activities in the online environment, particularly social networks, to build initial end-user database. At this stage marketing expenditures are still to be evaluated, but they will certainly consume major part of initial investments.
Concerning game developers, considering thousands of “forgotten” games getting lost each day on Google Play or App Store, the company is basically offering reincarnation service by integrating them into the platform to increase visibility and raise interest from end-users. Preliminary discussions with industry professionals showed that the team’s intention to address independent game developers is right.
dopaWin is currently planning to approach Enterprise Estonia as its primary funding source. Another valuable source are industry VCs and accelerators that go far beyond merely financial injections. “Their true value lies in professional strategic supervision during critical growing stage” – advisory board member Mikko Honkakorpi says.
As you may notice the team majorly consists of highly experienced business geeks. Compound average experience equals almost 50 years in B2B sales management, administration, development and finance. All of them were serving and running local and international businesses in the past and are still continuing. “Nevertheless the company is still missing developers and designers that would provide stable wheels to its mighty engine” – CTO Ilja Pojev concludes.
I have met dopaWin in Tallinn last week during their second pitch on StartSmart! Startup Demo Pitching event at Tehnopol Networking Night. According to reaction of the audience and my personal opinion this initiative has a lot of potential. And it seems like Estonian startup environment possesses all required tools and opportunities to help newly born ambitions shine brighter and hit international markets within shortest deadlines. All that remain is to wish them luck and keep on tracking their progress as the story continues.
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vita at goaleurope dot com