Adrian Krion of Spielworks says blockchain is empowering gaming which is a potential catalyst to enable millions of people to learn and use blockchain
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Adrian Krion: We’re fine, thank you. We were very lucky nobody really close to us had to deal with severe illness, so we made it through the pandemic unharmed. Of course, having two little kids and dealing with closed daycare was a bit of a juggling task, but we managed thanks to our parents. Now, as more and more people (including ourselves) are vaccinated, we hope there will be an actual end to this pandemic, first nationally but hopefully also globally.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Spielworks.
Adrian Krion: I’ve always loved games, and ever since learning to program, I wanted to make them myself. However, I took a long route to get here. First, I joined the largest German exchange operator to build markets and trading systems. I left in 2013 to co-found a software services company. During this time, I discovered Bitcoin and blockchain and was immediately fascinated by them. It took me until 2016 to start working with blockchain professionally. The huge potential then led us to set up a dedicated blockchain company which is today called “Spielworks.”
How does Spielworks innovate?
Adrian Krion: We’ve always strived to bring the benefits of blockchain technology to as many people as possible, and one avenue we’ve identified is the gaming industry, which acts as a potential catalyst to enable millions of people to learn and use blockchain—without even realizing it. This led us to build mass-market compatible gaming products that utilize blockchain technology to make the world more enjoyable for gamers. Because this space is still in its infancy, any possible product that actually benefits a large number of people is an innovation, technically.
Although we don’t generally aim to be the first ones to do something particular, we realized we were the first to create an NFT-rewards platform for traditional hyper-casual mobile games.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Adrian Krion: 2020, like most others, the pandemic made a lot of things harder for our company’s progress—mostly related to our team and fundraising. We were lucky we had all investors on board right before the lockdown, so we were able to actually close it during the start of the pandemic. Investors got much more cautious very quickly, but we can see that the overall sentiment has turned much more optimistic again as vaccine rollouts take place.
While some gaming companies were reporting record years in 2020 due to the increasing amount of time (and money) spent in games, it didn’t significantly impact our financials in this more immature market.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Adrian Krion: Due to our funding situation and the overall business sentiment, we luckily didn’t have to lay anybody off. However, the home office / remote situation posed a few challenges for us where new employees had a harder time getting on track and connected to the rest of the team. This led to an increased churn with new hires, which has been tough for us, especially in the first half of 2021.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Adrian Krion: As a consumer company, we don’t use many traditional CRM tools. We try to tailor the experience to individual users based on what we know about them, and we base our product and marketing decisions on data as much as we can. Business analytics like Mixpanel is very helpful here, but that’s actually all pandemic-independent.
What has changed a lot, though, is the management and maintenance of personal relationships with our community, but also with our partners. All meetings, of course, happen online, and it’s hard to establish the same level of trust if you’ve never met in person. While I think that we will never go back to the way things were exactly before, e.g., business travel, like the pre-pandemic status quo, I’m really looking forward to meeting some of the people we’re working with across the globe in-person again.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Adrian Krion: We were happy to get accepted for the German startup support program, which definitely made it easier to handle the funding situation. However, the process is very formal (as you’d expect it would be in Germany), so, unfortunately, not many startups made it through.
Your final thoughts?
Adrian Krion: While the pandemic did set us back a little bit, we see the enormous and validated potential of blockchain moving forward. The resurgence of Bitcoin in late 2020 and institutional investor adoption shows that it’s here to stay for the long haul. Although we know there are many avenues to reaching the average person with blockchain technology, gaming is definitely, to us, one of the most fun, effective ways. And as companies start to understand the value of blockchain, so will they incorporate it into their systems to improve the consumer experience, the same way we have with our gaming platform “Womplay.” NFTs will be one of the vehicles for delivering an improved consumer experience.