First of all, how are you and your Family doing in these COVID-19 Times?
Andrew Paradise: Thanks for asking. We recently welcomed a new member to the Paradise household – a goldendoodle named Astro. Although mischievous, he’s a great addition to the family.
Can you tell us about you, your Career, and how you Founded or Joined Skillz?
Andrew Paradise: I’ve been a lifelong competitive video gamer, starting with arcades when I was young. In high school, I would even drag my CRT monitor and computer to networked LAN parties and compete with my friends.
I came up with the idea for Skillz when I was playing one of my favorite mobile games. Right in the middle of the game, an ad popped up in the middle of the screen for a fast-food chain, and I accidentally tapped it – which took me out of the app and caused me to lose. I couldn’t believe that millions of mobile gamers constantly had to put up with that sort of nuisance. I realized there had to be a better way for game developers to make money without detracting from the player experience.
Now Skillz offers a way for mobile game developers to monetize through social competitions, and our method has proven to be 5x more effective than traditional models like ads and in-app purchases.
How does Skillz Innovate?
Andrew Paradise: We created Skillz to enable developers to focus solely on what they love and do best: building great games. Skillz is changing the industry by offering developers a highly scalable proprietary platform that includes the tools and support services they need to scale their business with higher player engagement, retention, and revenue.
Our technology stack is underpinned by data science, with 50+ patents to protect against fraudsters, ensure fair player matching, and more. Skillz provides a comprehensive suite of services including anti-cheating, anti-fraud, fair player matchmaking, customer service, and payment processing – technology that many game developers don’t have the resources to develop on their own but are critical to their success.
How has the Coronavirus Pandemic affected your Business, and how are you coping?
Andrew Paradise: Like all forms of digital media, mobile gaming has become an important form of comfort and entertainment during the pandemic. Amid wider disruption in the economy, Skillz has offered a cost-effective source of entertainment for players, a new and highly interactive way for brands to connect with consumers, a better way for developers to monetize their content. We’ve also raised over $100,000 for COVID-19 relief efforts through charitable tournaments run on our platform.
Did you have to make Difficult Choices, and what are the Lessons Learned?
Andrew Paradise: One of the biggest challenges for many businesses right now is keeping employees focused and engaged as we all work from home, but I’m very proud of how well Skillz has performed during these last few months of crises. COVID-19 created a surge in demand for digital entertainment, so companies like ours need to be judicious about how we spend our limited time and resources to meet that demand.
How do you Deal with Stress and Anxiety? How do you protect yourself and Skillz in the Future?
Andrew Paradise: Personally, I like to practice meditation and go on morning runs. These activities help clear my mind and create a clear delineation between work and personal time. For our employees, we want to ensure there are ample opportunities for connection and socialization.
To do this, we host happy hours, virtual bonding events, and regular company-wide meetings where everyone has the chance to hear from our leadership and ask questions. Since moving to remote work, we’ve also beefed up our benefits by rethinking PTO, adding a suite of options to support mental and physical health, and starting an equipment loan program for employees to optimize their home offices. We want to do everything we can to foster a healthy, happy, comfortable, and productive workforce.
Who are your Competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the Game?
Andrew Paradise: The technology built in-house by large game developers is most similar to what we offer on the Skillz platform. However, we’re providing that level of technology to independent developers for free, so they can focus on building games rather than spending time and money creating infrastructure.
In recent years we’ve seen an increasing number of large companies investing in mobile esports infrastructure – but with over 50 patents and 20,000 developers who are monetizing 5-20x more efficiently than before they joined Skillz, we are confident in the strength of our platform. Despite our market advantage, we’re also constantly striving to continue growing and improving. Our teams are working on innovations, partnerships, and product enhancements every day.
Your Final Thoughts
Andrew Paradise: Over the past few months, in particular, games have helped millions of people retain some semblance of normalcy in their lives. I think many of us will emerge from quarantine with a new appreciation for games and the way that fair, fun, and meaningful competitions like those we host on Skillz can keep us connected and engaged even during challenging times.
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