Summer of silence

Summer of Silence

It has been a while since I posted a written blog or a podcast episode for that matter.  Normally I would have pre-prepared posts or episodes and make sure they were all scheduled to go-live. This year I really didn’t have the energy nor spare capacity to do it. I already had been hitting a bit of dry patch in terms of inspiration to create meaningful and interesting content. So I decided to take a bit of a break and step back from posting something regularly. Now that we are heading back into autumn and days are getting shorter I wanted to give you an update of where we are at and what we are doing.

Touch and go

It was a bit touch and go whether I would start creating content again and also whether as a business we would make it through this year. The Covid-19 lockdown hit probably everyone by surprise and we went from looking at our best year ever to staring down the worst ever in our short company history. In a matter of weeks, all of our projects were either postponed indefinitely or closed down altogether. For a while, I worked frantically at trying to drum up new business, keeping the spirits up in the team, keep the team, look for government support and any other funding, etc. Anything at all to keep us alive and afloat.

When a first and one of my long-standing team members decided to quit in favour of job security I couldn’t give him, that is when I had to start admitting reality to myself. In the days before my birthday, I had to tell all the others on the team to look for new jobs and work because I sure didn’t have it. I had held on to them to see if I could turn around commercials on a contract which was an amazing creative project, but the commercials just didn’t stack up even with reduced team members and the amount of work to be done.

I also tried to pivot quickly towards more recurring income, which we had been planning on doing but everything required skills we didn’t have in-house already and I couldn’t afford to bring in. All of our grant applications and loan applications came back with negative answers. I asked all of our existing and past clients if we could do something but most were trying to figure things out themselves as well or simply had reduced workloads.

On a personal note, I was not doing well at all and especially between June and September was not in a good space. It was my Irish connections that came through for me as a personal support network. Pat Slattery and I caught up in Stockholm just a few weeks before the lockdown in the UK and Ireland. He set up a virtual networking group, the Outstanding Network purely with the intention to support fellow business people through this unknown time. I had a few other mentors do the same, but what made this group work was the daily meeting at 11 am. If you have ever lived through depression or other similar challenges then you will appreciate that having a routine is good. I made new connections and new friends in business and it was something to look forward to.

Grateful for clients that stood by and did something

There were 2 clients who stood up and gave me a few olive branches. One helped us in a joint bid for grant aid, which we didn’t achieve but we are now working on a new project together that came through a separate channel, however, I can’t name them thanks to confidentiality clauses. But I am grateful to all the people in that company who went out of their way to help us. It meant and means a lot!

One I can name, 5app, a content management platform for learning, operations and employee engagement asked if I could carry out some consulting work for their business. I had been on and off advising the business since 2015 and we always maintained a really positive business relationship. It was then also great to see them win an amazing award for the work they have been doing. I am really happy to have that work even if it really isn’t the core business of Gamification Nation to just plug some of the holes in our financial year.

Onwards and upwards

Whilst most of the team have moved on and have found new jobs. I wish them well and hope they thrive, I am grateful for all we did manage to do together and hope that one day we can catch up and laugh about this period, as a once in a lifetime freakshow. On the positive, I have now started to pick up new projects too. I think the release of lockdown also released new funding for some projects. It has meant that I am working pretty much around the clock with limited help, but for one project I can bring back one of the team members. Capacity is lower than we could take on before, for now, I do think it is wise to be prudent.

I did in the last number of weeks pick-up some exciting new software licenses which we can resell, we are going through a website re-vamp to make sure we can showcase these and do them justice. And we are focussing on building out some of the serious games we created in the past and had in our pipeline into our Business Games Arcade. We are looking for funding to build out the arcade, so let me know if you are interested.

The tools we are reselling will help people interested in creating interactive content:

  • Whiteboard videos (or blackboard) – namely the videos where they make scribbles and draw stuff while you hear the voice-over
  • Interactive 360 VR videos – where you upload your 360 videos and you can add in interactions, logos, instructions which play as a video or in VR
  • Video chatbot – where you or an avatar can do the talking for your business or introduce your products
  • Quizmaking tool – where you can make all kinds of quizzes from the simple pop-quiz to the more elaborate personality profile

If you are interested in any of these tools, contact me directly and we can talk software demo. If you want us to make something for you, that, of course, is also possible. We ask that you do some of the pre-work and then we will do the heavy-lifting for a friendly fee. For now, this is a manual process but once we have the new site ready you will find more information about these tools and services.

Friends in gamification

In the world of gamification, I also found some support, with some going through the exact same cycle as us and a few completely astounded why weren’t booming because of our eLearning connection. You know who you are and if you don’t you and I will have spoken (or mailed) at length in the last few months.

We are delighted to say we also made some new agreements here to be reselling or consulting partners namely with Mambo.io and Gametize. We have been working on opportunities together for some time so it made sense to formalise the relationship as well. Both Alessandro and Keith the respective owners of each of the businesses have done an amazing job to bring the products they have to life and are always at hand to assist when questions arise.

I also want to give a specific shout out to two more gems in this world Monica Cornetti, who is organising GamiCon the virtual edition, which I hope to be able to give an excellent contribution to. From the previous live events, the feedback has always been phenomenal, so sign up and join! The other is Bernardo Letayf from Bluerabbit.io who has been helping me out with all kinds of WordPress and gamification plugin issues over the last few weeks. He also became a recent first-time dad, so thank you for all you did for me and congratulations to you and Ursula and baby Hana.

We are open to new business

To summarise the whole post, we are open for new projects, whilst our capacity at the moment is limited. We can take on 5 live projects at the same time, currently one is finishing soon, so a spot will become available. New ongoing business will mean opportunities for the team to be rebuilt and that will help us look forward to a great year in 2021.

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