Q&A: Winning the game of customer engagement

This week’s Q&A is with Rob Holden, founder of rubin8, a business that harnesses gamification to help brands improve their offering. Rob and his team create fun, interactive, mobile games that allow businesses to engage specific audiences and harvest the data, giving them a deeper understanding of their audience’s thoughts and behaviours.

ISB: What was the “lightbulb moment” that led to you starting rubin8?

RH: Oddly enough, it was at a V8 supercars event in Tasmania. We noticed this one guy, a visible Ford fan, who was completely engaged with the race but was rooting for Holden because of a prize he would win should Holden place first. At that moment it hit me that when someone is truly engaged in an activity, you can really shape and influence their behaviour.

ISB: You come from an advertising background, did you already have gamification expertise, or did you bring in outside help??

RH: We didn’t have expertise in the gamification field, so we recruited different people for the positions who we deemed were crucial to our success. Our team is made up of a variety of people who are specialists in their specific fields, and we ensure that we all work together to achieve our business objectives.

ISB: Is this an expensive type of business to set up, and how did you fund it in the early days?

RH: Not particularly. It’s a growing process. We started growing sales and when demand kept increasing we decided it was important to fine tune the product. We then decided extra funding was crucial for our plans, and started speaking to different investors, which eventually led to a successful capital-raising in 2017.

ISB: You now have 16 employees – how many did you kick off with and what have been the key “events” that have seen rubin8 grow?

RH: The business started with just three people (including myself). The key things for us were the “strategic” employees, those who came in as strong performers but were also invested in the vision and success of the business. All our staff have great entrepreneurial drive.

As for the key events, we’re lucky to have had clients who have enabled us to grow so rapidly. We secured some high-profile clients early on, which enabled us to showcase our expertise and ability to drive business outcomes.

ISB: Where do you see rubin8, and gamification in general, developing in the next few years?

RH: We believe gamification marketing will become mainstream. Every business will have a gamification aspect to their business. It will change the way integrated marketing campaigns are developed and implemented, how research is gathered from consumers, as well as the way marketing is taught in academic institutions. The definition of the marketing professional as we know it will be dramatically changed from gamification and games generally. The generations coming next have never really known a life without mobile phones and this type of marketing will be as normal to them as radio and TV.

ISB: Finally, what piece of advice would you pass to others with an idea they’d like to turn into a business?

RH: It’s cliché, but if you’re passionate about your business idea, go for it. Once you have an idea and a vision, you need to stick to it. The drive you have for you own business will help you get past the challenges that lie ahead of you. It is always important to listen and seek advice when starting out but don’t just accept it if anyone tells you it can’t be done, because you will get that often in your early days.

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