'Understanding customers' - Key for Successful Gamification in Any Startup
by Mark Hogan, 21st July 2015
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Luducrafts - Elevator Pitch:
"We are developing custom made gamification solutions, tailored to customers needs. Our quest is to deliver meaningful experience that engage your users, and achieve your business goals."

Hi Oliver, and welcome to inspiring startup talks with entrepreneurs! Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself and how you ended up becoming an entrepreneur.

Hi, thanks for having me! I'm from Slovakia and my background is in adult education, from which I have a Master degree.

During my last years at university, I stumbled upon the concept of gamification as a tool for improving daily tasks that are not engaging - alas, learning is usualy one of them. After a few attempts at applying gamification to the classroom, I decided that designing such solutions is something I wanted to dedicate my future career to.

Since there were no companies in Slovakia employing gamification designers, the logical step was to give it a shot and try to work on my own. In the last nine months I was able to participate and lead projects that allowed me to put together a small team and cover our activities under the brand Luducrafts. 

What do you like about being an entrepreneur?

I think the most valuable thing for me is that I am able to focus on doing things that I like and consider meaningful for living. Such an intrinsic motivation is really important, especially when it comes to managing all the tasks that comes with entrepreneurship. 

Do you think there is a limit on what type of businesses can gamify their products?

Well, for instance the graveyard is probably not the best place to think about applying gamification. But (!) when it comes to asking whether I should / should not gamify my business, I always try to point out that gamification is in my perception a problem-solving tool.  

Gamification is in some ways a design approach that allows you to look at how you can improve your company's products or processes via the optics of game design. Therefore, if there is a limit, I think it is set by the characteristics of the actual product / process you wish to gamify.

Since we've seen successful implementations of gamified solutions into “serious” industries (like oil companies, healthcare, the automobile industry), it points out that it is not about the type of business, but more about the characteristics of the challenge and concrete problem in the first place. 

What are the best strategies to create and sustain loyal customers through gamification?

It may sound like a cliche, but the best strategy is to really understand your customers, and have a good analysis of what is a key value for them. Once you have a clear framework about your users / players, it is easier to deploy adequate gamification tools and techniques. If you design great looking gamification that is not relevant to your target audience, you will soon burn yourself. 

It is important, especially in a long-term gamification, to realise that most gamified solutions are dynamic systems that require updating, and are honed and refined over time. It is similar to application development - you can't expect that your apps version 1.0 will not require changes. :)

Gamification is all about rewarding user behaviour. However, if you reward people too often they will lose the sense of accomplishment that makes them "play", while making rewards too challenging will see users give up on it-- and potentially your product. Have you any advice on how to balance challenge versus reward?

We know that poorly placed rewards can spoil your players' initial motivation and can easily withdraw them from the system. When you are thinking of setting up a reward system, try to establish a system that operates with various types of rewards.  

One type could be an anticipated, fixed-ratio reward that provides an instant positive feedback. But make sure you also apply rewards that are variable, more rare, and are “sort of” unpredictable for the players.

Most importantly, try to build an experience that is meaningful for your players- in ideal state, you don't need to throw trophies or rewards on your players, because the challenge itself is sufficiently fun and interesting. 

What, in your opinion, have been some of the most successful business gamification stories?

To name a few, I really like the approach of Classcraft or Duolingo in education. In healthcare & lifestyle, Zombie, Run! caught my eye. I liked Zappos' face game and Deloitte's Leadership Academy in terms of HR / internal processes. And of course we have to mention success of SAP's internal platform, or IBM innovation platforms. And I think Stack Overflow and LinkedIn have nailed some gamification techniques very well.

Luducrafts says "We test our work as soon as possible." How important do you think customer feedback is?

Extremely important. When it comes to gamification, you often have to fully understand not only customer goals or internal processes, but you have to dive into customer's culture, values, preferences motives, etc.  

Therefore, for us it is important to make sure that there is a mutual understanding between the vendor and the client. You have to make sure your gamification is really solving the specific challenges and helps to achieve business goals - thus you need a close co-op with your client.

Plus, when you come up with a design, you have to make sure it is fun and interesting for the actual target group who will play and interact with your design. The sooner you find out what triggers their motivation, the better  - that is why we are trying to test our work as soon as possible - often in a form of paper prototypes, to see what works and what needs to be adjusted.  

Early prototypes of gamification can save you tons of time in later development. 

Finally, what is next for Luducrafts?

Our plan is to keep delivering solutions that work for our current customers and future clients. Since gamification is still a relatively young concept, our long-term vision is to contribute to overall development in this field and make sure that gamification will become a “new standard” for industries.

Before we let you go, where can we find you online?

We are occupying all of the major social media  :) You can find us on Facebook, Twitter or add me on LinkedIn. Or you can contact us directly via Luducrafts.com.



Are you aware of any gamification examples which proved successful in business?

What is your experience using gamification in your business?


Mark is a current journalism student in DCU and has covered a range of topics across print and radio. Having taken a class on entrepreneurship, he found startups were the most exciting thing happening in Ireland and developed a keen interest in them. Apart from technology, Mark has a love for biographies and Woody Allen films. You can contact him on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Author: Mark Hogan

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