I got asked by an Entrepreneurship student about being interviewed for her project. I thought it would be interesting for you guys to see some behind the scenes action, see exactly how Gaming Gives functioned in the beginning, and my advice for if you are looking to start up anything of your own. I hope you enjoy and if you have any questions be sure to tweet them at me @FurnyBaby.
What worried you the most as you started your venture?
Honestly, I did not expect us to get this big. Originally the idea that we came up with at the lunch table one day was just a few of us having our game consoles up and having people come for simple little tournaments to be able to make small yearly contributions from our group of friends. After we got the Gaming Gives name though, I would say that disappointing our players has always been my biggest fear. We do our best with a very small budget and provide players with a professional experience. We cut a lot of corners but make sure we hit key things that players want to see and that is what makes the Gaming Gives experience.
What excited you most about starting this venture?
Being able to do what I love. Don’t get me wrong I love donating to the charities, it makes doing what I love to do so much better and it is the ultimate goal. However, at the beginning I had a vision and the fact that I had a crew willing to help chase that vision is incredible. When I was in high school I was always more interested in the behind the scenes of larger events than the events themselves. I became obsessed with the planning stage of different events.
What resources did you use to start? Where did they come from?
I still consider the stage that we are in currently the “start” in the grand scheme of things. So resources wise my main thing that I need is my team. Consisting at first of just 4 close, motivated friends we expanded to a larger group of friends, then now I actually have two previous players volunteering their time for Gaming Gives. My team is so important because all in all I can’t get everything that we need donated and they help immensely getting TV’s, consoles, cords, and other little things that aren’t usually thought of until setup. Along with that they bring unique, valued ideas to the table that help move the organization along to raise even more money. They also tend to make sure that I eat and take breaks during the setup and execution because I usually forget about those things.
What moments do you remember most?
Our first Winter tournament had our first participant that was not known by any of the staff members. It was a huge moment to have a total stranger participate in the event. That event overall is one of the greatest memories as it featured our first commentated, professionally broadcasted live-stream. It was the first of many elaborate setups. From there the next greatest moment would have to be our second Call of Duty tournament. It was our most elaborate Summer 2016 setup, had the most consoles ever in an event, our highest attended gaming tournament at the time, featured 10-20 people that we did not know, and we had our first event sponsors T-Mobile and the US Army. Then our most recent tournament will probably be the event that I think back to in ten years. The event was magical and, to be honest, a pure miracle that it happened. This event was featured all over Central Illinois news stations and had our first out of state players, our first out of country players, most consoles ever, and overall the most elaborate setup we could possibly have.
Who helped you along the way?
Like I said in another question I could not of done any of this without my team of volunteers. I owe a lot of this organizations success to them. Outside of Gaming Gives thought my parents helped me many times throughout the journey. I would run ideas by them as they came to me and would help if I asked them. They were always there to support me. Limestone Community High School, where I graduated in 2015, was also a huge help. They provide us the venue and let us borrow many essential cords that would normally cost us a fortune, for free. One that may come as a surprise though is the charity that we donate to, the Pediatric Resource Center. The PRC keeps close tabs on us to see how we are doing and how they can help. Stephanie Johnson, the Executive Director at the PRC, always helps us with our flyers and anything we need printed. They’re awesome and we are so happy to be working with them.
How do you describe yourself to others?
Not sure if the question is asking about myself or Gaming Gives so I’ll do both.
I am the Founder of Gaming Gives Events and the Head of Event Operations. Basically, being in charge of event operations means that I oversee the planning of every aspect of the event. Currently, I do a lot of the nitty-gritty planning on my own, but now that we have many events under our belts my guys know for the most part the details of a basic setup. Now I have my exec. Board run different areas of the event and they report their issues to me. The main thing that I focus on now is online player registration and player retainment. Personally, outside of Gaming Gives I would describe myself as a motivated learner and mentor. I love learning about something new and teaching it to others. This has helped me train my volunteers. I am always curious about how things work and I think that has helped Gaming Gives immensely.
Gaming Gives is a charitable organization that raises money, currently only for the Pediatric Resource Center, by running various events. Mainly we run gaming or gaming-related events, but are branching out into other areas. We take pride in providing a professional experience to our players from the moment they find out about an event to when they leave the venue after the event. We work really hard to be a resource within the gaming community to support our players and get them more known in a very competitive community.
What advice do you have for me as a student of entrepreneurship?
I’m not going to give you the stereotypical “follow your dreams” crap. Sometimes your dreams are stupid. When you are doing this you need to be smart with every decision you make. So the advice that I would give a student entrepreneur is very simple.
1.Learn how to do stuff yourself.
This is the most important thing anyone can every tell you in life or in this area. Learn how to work a website, make basic repairs on things, and work-arounds for various things. This will save you a lot of precious startup money. In this age, you can learn anything in a week or at least have a basic enough understanding to pass. For example, doing all of Gaming Gives website work saves thousands of web designer fees. I also do all of Gaming Gives designing. This saves on hiring a graphic designer and someone with marketing experience. These are all really common things that small businesses will outsource when anyone can learn a basic understanding of all of this in a week.
2. Research. Research. Research.
Take your time on your initial start up purchases. Take into account every little detail and do not jump on the first one with a price tag. I have been able to donate a lot more money due to the fact that I plan way ahead and will spend the time between now and when I need whatever it is watching prices and keeping updated on other things in that area.
3. T – E – A – M
You will achieve nothing alone in this industry. If you are alone, then if you are good and lucky, you will eventually be overwhelmed. Having a solid team is not an expense. They are all assets with the potential to have the next amazing idea. I cannot stress this enough. I’ll be the first to say that in Gaming Gives nothing would be able to happen without each and every one of my team members. I could plan 95% of the event, have 99% of the stuff that we need, and have 98% of the ideas but without them filling in even the smallest of blanks, nothing can happen. To make anything work 100% of everything has to work and to do that you need a team.
Thanks for reading guys. Once again if you have any questions be sure to ask me on Twitter!
Founder of Gaming Gives Events
Head of Event Operations at Gaming Gives