Company Name: QuizJam
Announcement Date: 20/11/2018
Announcement Category: Investment
QuizJam, a start-up that provides quizzes on websites for brands including Sportsbet, Suncorp, Seven West Media and H&M Kids has raised almost $1 million from Australian investors, as it looks to kickstart its plans after almost hitting the skids in 2017.
The start-up, founded by Perth-based entrepreneur Joel Steel, has brought in investors, led by former Gull Petroleum owner Ian Green's family office and also including Basketball Australia chairman Ned Coten.
While the $810,000 raised on a pre-money valuation of $5 million is small in comparison to some of the rounds being secured by Australian start-ups in recent times, it marks a significant turning point for the company that believes it has a significant addressable market after it pulled off a technical shift in its product late last year.
In its pitch to clients, QuizJam says embedding its quizzes into content on a website can drive a deeper engagement between a brand or publisher and their audience. Its numbers are impressive in marketing terms, with it claiming game completion rates of about 80-90 per cent, click-through rates on ads in its quizzes of between 40 and 50 per cent, and a 98 per cent response rate to its gamified survey questions.
But Mr Steel said that despite having completed deals with companies such as Carsales.com as far back as 2016, and having been around as a company since 2014, QuizJam had almost run its race by the end of last year, until it made the technical shift of becoming a web-based platform rather than an app in the Android or iOS ecosystems.
He said he originally conceived QuizJam as an app doing mass multi-player quizzes to help not-for-profits and charities raise funds and awareness for their causes, and so had focused on mobile apps to get in the hands of as many consumers as possible.
When complications arose with Apple regulations regarding unlocking features in-app when donating to charity, and Mr Steel saw the impact of the 30 per cent "Apple Tax" on any in-app purchases or donations, he pivoted the company to focus its gamification approach on the corporate world.
However, despite developing an impressive roster of clients, it was struggling to get the sales numbers it needed and was close to going under.
"We made an extremely big and ballsy move in October 2017 when we only had a couple of months' runway left in the bank ... we decided to leave behind three years of work on the QuizJam app, tens of thousands of downloads and hundreds of thousands of dollars and move to a web-based platform with a supreme focus on audience engagement," Mr Steel said.
He said the company's gamification approach to content was working, but consumers were increasingly unwilling to download an app to do short quizzes. The improved capability of web platforms meant a redesigned platform could allow QuizJam a fresh shot at the market.
"Since our pivot in October 2017 we have built out a true audience engagement platform that is now embedded into some of Australia's and the world's biggest brands' websites. We took a chance and it was the best decision we've made," Mr Steel said.
The capital raised will be used to hire more staff to handle potential sales volume. It already employs 13 staff from offices in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Brazil. Mr Steel said he had courted investors with a plan, which he said could turn QuizJam into a $100 million company.
In addition to existing deals, the company was planning to grow internationally through agreements with agency partners and new business relationships, with the likes of the National Basketball League.
Mr Steel said the ups and downs of trying to get a start-up established had taken a personal toll, which would be recognised by many other entrepreneurs trying their hands at creating something big from scratch.
"Being an entrepreneur is not fun; most of the time it's a lonely, scary and stressful place to live your life," he said.
"Relationships suffer due to long work hours, stress and financial issues. Your mental health suffers, and in my case I am constantly having to be on the east coast away from friends, family and loved ones.
"Most people see my social media and think that I am forever jet-setting around the country and living the life, but you very quickly get tired of living out of a suitcase, flying every second week, staying in crappy cheap hotels to save money, but most of all its constantly being away from my kids, family and loved ones that makes it hard to do."
Mr Steel said the belief of his investors had helped keep him confident, despite it being particularly difficult for a Perth-based start-up to raise funds.
He said that, despite raising multiple seed rounds, he had found it difficult to survive the first few years, meaning the stronger position he now finds himself in was particularly exciting.
"There were many times where we were only days away from a $35,000 pay run and we had less than $2000 in the bank. This is when you need to rise to the occasion and have your investors trust in you and your vision to save the day," he said.
"We are very lucky to have some amazing investors who have that trust in our team."
Announcement URL: https://www.afr.com/technology/how-gamification-startup-quizjam-found-the-right-answer-to-save-itself-before-the-cash-ran-out-20181104-h17ht3
QuizJam is a one of a kind MarTech offering that can deliver reach, engagement, acquisition, advertising, market research and sales from the one gamified platform.
Go to Company Profile for: QuizJam
Announcement Contact: [email protected]