The Gamification Of Motherhood: In Kimberly Jolasun’s Gender Reveal Game, You Pay To Play
Kimberly Jolasun was working in clinical research and completing her master’s degree from Drexel University when she had the idea to gamify her own pregnancy.
She created a game where her family and friends could guess the gender of her baby, and it turned out so well, she turned it into a business.
Jolasun says she’s found her passion in helping other moms, starting with her own game, which raised more than $1,000 almost two-and-a-half years ago. Today, she helps hundreds of families raise money for their newborns or for the mother’s favorite charities.
Entrepreneur Magazine featured Jolasun successfully getting four potential investors to allow her to take the elevator to the boardroom floor. She went in asking for $100,000 for 5 percent equity in her company presenting a $2 million valuation.
Jolasun secured a $50,000 investment for 10-percent equity despite hesitation over whether she had a good tech team. Judge Elizabeth Sarquis was the only j wudgeho voted Kimberly to the boardroom. Sarquis is a founder and CEO of Jukko and the Global Gaming Initiative, one of the first mobile gaming companies to develop games for social impact.
“Elizabeth has an amazing background which matches perfectly with what we do,” Jolasun said.
Jolasun shared with Moguldom how she built her game, the importance of having a connected advisor, and what the next five years look like for her company.
Moguldom: Why did you start the Gender Reveal Game?
Kimberly Jolasun: When I was pregnant with my first child two-and-a-half years ago, my husband’s family had not had a baby girl born in 20 years. My husband’s family was adamant that we were going to have a boy. So for my gender reveal party, I had the whole family bet on whether I’m having a boy or girl. We did a $20-per-person bet, and, in a few weeks, I had raised over $1,000 for the gender reveal.
I went to a few of my friends who were also pregnant at the same time. I said to them they should try this too in order to see if they would be able to raise money playing this game. I made sure the moms were from different backgrounds, different families and circles. They were each able to raise at least $300 playing this game with their family. That’s how the idea came about. The first game, the Gender Reveal Game, allows expecting moms to raise money by having friends and family guess the baby’s gender with cash. I saw a great opportunity to help other moms.
Moguldom: How does your platform work?
Kimberly Jolasun: Parents can sign up for free to create a game. They enter key information such as how long the game will run, how much it will cost each guest to play. They then tell their friends and family to go to the site and pay to play. And at the end of the game, they cash out. One person who provided the correct answer gets entered into a drawing to win a prize. We try to also provide coupons and free things to our parents as well. Some parents raise money for themselves. We have seen some raise money and donate to charities of their choice.
Moguldom: How does your company make money?
Kimberly Jolasun: Our site collects a nominal fee, currently 9 percent, from funds raised. We are a part of an affiliate program with Target and Amazon and we have some of the partnerships with baby brands.
Moguldom: You do not personally have a tech background, as mentioned on the show. How did you find your team members?
Kimberly Jolasun: The original MVP (minimum viable product), the first version of the game, I did use contractors to prove out the concept. I hired a team here and overseas to build the prototype to see if moms wanted this product. Once we realized there’s a huge market for this and moms absolutely loved this, I went to try to find a technical co-founder. I looked for someone who understands the vision and is also very skilled. I convinced them about this crazy idea to build a mega house for the gamification of motherhood. Then I was able to get my front-end developer. I found my team members Sam Beal and Kendrick Williams through networking.
Moguldom: What were some of your challenges? How did you overcome them?
Kimberly Jolasun: The technical piece. Being a first-time founder has been very difficult. I’ve worked in small companies before and I had a consulting company and businesses in the past but not being technical in a technical space was very difficult. Even on the Entrepreneur’s Elevator Pitch show that was something that played against me, the fact I’m not a technical person trying to build a technical company. That was very difficult. Also, deciding if I wanted to raise money was also very difficult. We did get some pre-seed funding from an accelerator, but really deciding whether we wanted to do this organically or if we wanted to raise money was very difficult, especially since I have not had a tech company before.
Moguldom: How was your experience appearing on the Entrepreneur’s Elevator Pitch show?
Kimberly Jolasun: I started watching the show a season or two ago. I remember at the end of one episode there was a link to apply. I actually applied once before and didn’t hear back. I applied a second time, and that’s when I got on the show. To be on the show you have to go through an application process, a callback, an interview and then you get selected. When we were selected, I went on the show, gave my pitch in the elevator and we ended up getting an offer from Elizabeth Sarquis, the CEO and co-founder of Jukko and the Global Gaming Initiative. It was really, really exciting. More exciting than the funding offered, which was $50,000, is her background. Elizabeth has an amazing background which matches perfectly with what we do. She has a gaming company that creates games for social causes, and we’re trying to gamify motherhood. It’s always capital everyone wants. They want to raise money for their company, but it’s important to grow your network and have advisors who can do that and more for you. That’s really what Elizabeth will be for us and I think that was the real prize for being on the show.
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Moguldom: Besides the $50,000 you will obtain from Elizabeth, you also obtained money from an accelerator program. Do you mind sharing how much you received in pre-seed funding. Do you recommend going through these types of accelerator programs?
Kimberly Jolasun: The program we participated in is called AlphaLab in Pittsburgh. We went through the program last year. It was three-to-four months. They invest anywhere from $25,000 to $50,000 or more depending on the company. We were able to raise $25,000 from the program. Also, in the four or five months you’re there they introduce you to investors and mentors and walk you through your business model to help to accelerate your business. For me, what really helped us was them helping me to understand my market and customers because at that point all I had was my MVP. I think if you’re a founder, especially one without a tech background or a startup one, you should go to a program that has funding and a good network.
Moguldom: You have been able to obtain funding, appear on the Elevator Pitch show, and pitch at SXSW. What are some other wins for your company?
Kimberly Jolasun: I think building my team has been a huge win. Being able to solicit customers is one thing, but to be able to sell your dream to someone else and they see it the way you do, has been a huge moment. It really solidifies the potential of the company and what we’re trying to do. Also, a huge win was our moms that set up their games. As flawed as our MVP was, our moms were so forgiving. They worked with us and gave their suggestions. They were very invested in their games and making the most out of our company, which was a huge win. It really solidifies that we’re onto something. There’s a huge need for it. And honestly, it boils down to being able to help other moms. I think motherhood is a great experience. All I really wanted to do from the beginning was to help moms. I have fallen in love with being able to help others. Being able to do so is a huge win.
Moguldom: What do the next five years look like?
Kimberly Jolasun: We will have upwards of 20 games. The idea is to gamify motherhood. We want to be with the mom through every trimester, every milestone, up until the baby arrives and beyond — from gender reveal to baby shower games and health information games to helping to decide on the baby’s name or the baby’s nickname. The whole idea is to gamify motherhood and help parents.
It takes a village to raise a kid. In our society today, families are growing and living further and further apart. Our online platform will help to bring the family back together no matter where their family is located. In five years, I really want our platform to be the go-to place when a mom finds out that she’s growing her family. A place where everyone will go to keep track of the baby and see how the baby’s doing or to give to the child, whether with presents or a donation.