The decision to start a business can happen for a multitude of reasons. At times it grows organically and almost happens in the same way. It may be a spark of inspiration that clearly illuminates your future path.
Whatever the reason, I came to realise that the impetus is rarely straightforward but is in fact the sum of the collected experiences you have and the people you meet during your lifetime.
With that in mind I thought I would look back and thank some of the people who directly or otherwise influenced that decision for us. Some might be aware of this and others might not, however you have my heartfelt gratitude, all of you.
The first person that comes to mind is someone I hold in high regard and whom I consider to be a visionary in this industry. One of the co-founders of Alea, Alexandre Tomic.
I have had the pleasure of having multiple conversations with Alex (some deep into the night) and from each occasion I have emerged more knowledgeable and informed. Two conversations really struck a chord. The first was a simple question, that still today influences and guides my decisions around Plank Gaming, the second was a statement Alex made that sowed the very first seed of… What if?
Alex and I have never managed to stick to one scheduled meeting at ICE during our years of being there. Yet we always managed to bump into each other and take a few minutes to catch up. I was working with a supplier back than who had just launched its newest set of tools for in-game gamification. I brought it up proudly and I was taken aback when Alex asked me ONE simple question after I had done my elevator pitch of it. One question. WHY DON’T YOU JUST DO GAMES? AND LET ME DEAL WITH PLAYERS?
I countered with a lot of arguments back then. Arguments I thought were valid. I would have thought operators would have jumped at more inhouse gamification tools. During the weeks, months, and years after that I came to realise one thing… Why don’t we just do games? Operators own the player experience from beginning to end. Games should be there for players to enjoy spending time on their preferred brand.
It’s Ideally a homogenous experience so a player can enjoy that same experience throughout the whole site and all games they might be playing. That belief that operators should lead that gamification experience rather than game providers has been a core aspect of Plank Gaming since the start and one we intend to carry forward. After all there are thousands of providers, do players really want 100s of different experiences when it comes to gamification and promotions? Of course not, so that’s best left to the experts – the operators.
In a different conversation over skype, way before even the thought of starting a business ever occurred to me, Alex casually stated that he was sure I’d eventually start my own business. I remember vividly saying that I do not see it. It would be impossible. Never even thought about it. I hung up laughing calling the idea crazy, mad, nonsensical even. But the seed was sown. That same week I started looking into bringing a few ideas to life. The first one never even made it in front of investors. The second one was pitched and failed miserably. Plank was a good measure of luck, pitch and amazing timing that came together less than 6 months after our first conversation.
Would Plank have started if Alex had not sown that seed?
Would it follow the same core aspect as it does now, had I not been challenged?
Who knows? I surely do not. But what I want to do is publicly thank Alexandre Tomic and Charles Gross for being the visionaries that they are and for always finding the time to talk and share. For having been a part of the journey of starting Plank Gaming and equally as importantly for being great people to share a beer and a chat with.