What is your background?
My background is computer science but I started to focus on game-based learning during my doctoral thesis and continued during my post doc in the US. However, games and learning have been my interest from when I was a teenager.
What is your idea? Why is it important?
The social aspect of games has always been important to me. Especially, since I have children, I was looking for a great and fun means to connect with them on a deeper level. This is the origin for my inter-generational games. I wanted to develop games that unite generations to exchange personal stories and encourage quality time. These kinds of games not only promote respect and tolerance but they also foster an understanding of the other generation’s world. For instance, adults get to dive into the world and imagination of their children. Furthermore, it contributes to the health and well being of the elderly by keeping them active through coordinative and physical challenges.
Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur? Why were you looking for mentorship?
When my family and I came back from the US in 2012, I couldn’t find a job because I was too specialized. I didn’t want to compromise and leave my love for playful learning behind. So in 2013, I founded Pixxadoo, a games development company, with the purpose to bring more play in this world.
By the end of 2014, I began to focus on inter-generational game. However I was a bit overwhelmed as to how to approach this venture and what steps to take. There was no actual support network in my area with a focus on women. Except Aspire. They immediately caught my attention and when their Mentoring and Accelerator Program started I was extremely excited to be a part of it. This was exactly what I needed. Not a one-week business plan class but an experienced person who could advise me on my journey.
How has the AMPLIFY program helped you from where you were to where you are now?
My mentor, Cristina Riesen, was and is still mentoring me. She is a great support and was crucial in many difficult and stressful situations. She helped me focus so I did not get lost or sidetracked. Furthermore, she connected me with many people helpful to my business.
AMPLIFY was not only a Mentoring Program but also offered workshops on how to pitch my business in front of investors. The networking between mentees was very helpful. We exchanged personal experiences and encouraged or cheered one other.
How do you see AMPLIFY helping women?
AMPLIFY was the only program I knew in the CH startup world that focused on promoting women in tech. I just felt safe and comfortable in this program. There was an understanding and unity amongst the women.
What did you do after you completed AMPLIFY?
After my successful crowd funding campaign last year, I was able to produce the physical game parts. I even found a CTO! Eventually we launched Cheeky Max last November. It did okay but the first game version had some weaknesses such as a high price and the concept was too complex to explain in one sentence - I learned that explaining your product in one sentence is crucial.
Therefore, we had difficulties to sell the game on a bigger scale. Lots of marketing efforts went fruitless which was frustrating.
But learning and realizing the flaws of our product motivated me to improve the product. Therefore now we are working on the re-design and a simpler version of our first game. The new game requires a smartphone, which serves as a controller in the physical world. It basically replaces the cards and instructions and adapts to the players skill level and age.
After Christmas, funding got very low so I had to look for additional financial sources to earn a living. In April, I (luckily) found a great part-time opportunity in the startup world. I am the new organizer of the Swiss ICT Investor Club event (SICTIC) in Zurich.
Tell us more about your work at SICTIC?
The event occurs three times a year in Zurich and twice in Lausanne, and provides a great chance for early-stage ICT startups to meet up with investors. Eight startups get selected to pitch for 90 seconds. The audience selects four of them. Those four can then pitch their business for eight minutes. Afterwards, there is a networking apéro.
We also want to increase the diversity of this event. I see it as a direct following of the AMPLIFY program and I can still learn a lot for my own business.