How to Use Serious Gaming to Invest in the Right Startup Teams
“You can learn more in an hour of play than in a whole year of conversation”, Plato once said. The games he used to play with his philosophical adversaries may remain unknown to us to this day. Yet, we are certain that the ancient philosopher would be uber-excited to find out that for this cycle of The Accelerator we took his wise words to heart.
How? By partnering up with Owiwi, a new venture based in the philosopher’s own birth city, whose product, an innovative and refined psychometric tool, turns team evaluation and recruitment into a fun and constructive process.
And since we like to think forward, this year we relied on Owiwi’s innovative platform to evaluate in depth The Accelerator Top 20 applicant teams before we made any tough decisions. Interested to know what we learnt by playing serious games? Press Start!
Level 1: An introduction to an innovative solution
The team at Owiwi was, in fact, inspired by Plato to turn their game-changing idea into a venture aiming to make the lives of hiring managers everywhere much easier. How? Owiwi brings to the table more than just a typical psychometric tool by employing sophisticated illustration, gaming, and real life decision-making scenarios.
“Using the immersiveness of video games, we created an engaging and fun tool that can “unlock” candidates and help them make a better and more lasting impression to their hiring manager. While players engage in a unique gaming experience, every interaction they make helps to shape a psychologically-validated and comprehensive soft skills profile”, says Ilias Vartholomaios, CEO and Co-Founder at Owiwi.
Level 2: Boarding The Accelerator Express
So why did we end up using Owiwi? The answer is simple: in-depth team evaluation. It is a truth universally acknowledged that when it comes to early-stage investment, the team is paramount. In fact, according to a recent study conducted by the Stanford University, the average investor seeks and responds strongly to information about the startup team. Even more so, it turns out that a solid management startup team can make a funding deal; a volatile one can break it. Being investors ourselves, we could not agree more.
Flashback to January 2016: We were planning this year’s re-energized installment of The Accelerator and we were looking through additional tools that could help us further evaluate the applicant startups in terms of team quality and dynamics. After a thorough examination of all available tools, we decided to use Owiwi for three main reasons:
1. An innovative tool for team evaluation. Owiwi gives a groundbreaking approach to recruitment and team assessment overall. So, to complement the straightforward insights gained from our interviews with the semifinalist teams, Owiwi would help us tap into subconscious aspects of each player’s personality and skills. Bottom line: it both revealed and reinforced information that solidified our decision about which team should make it to the next evaluation stage.
2. The power of 360o reporting. “Scientific validity, credibility, and usable data are of the utmost importance to us”, states Athina Polina Dova, COO and Co-Founder at Owiwi. And her word speaks the truth. We received a detailed report on each team member’s capabilities as well as an overview of key team dynamics. And it was a win-win situation for startup founders as well: the teams got a short report that could help them make smarter hiring decisions and dig deeper into their internal dynamics.
3. The ever-so-important bragging rights. We love to be pioneers and, according to the team at Owiwi, we would be the first accelerator to ever include its cutting-edge tool in its evaluation process. We were more than excited to take on this exciting opportunity and build an interesting case study for our new Innovation Allies.
Level 3: Crunching the Data – Let the Games Begin
So here is how we got down to the… gaming business: during the second round of evaluations of The Accelerator applicants, a.k.a. our Interview Spree, we asked our Top 20 semifinalists to log into the Owiwi platform and play the game.
We then collected the data coming from their reports, and grouped them under the four key dimensions on which Owiwi evaluates each player: Emergent Leadership Skills, Teamwork Skills, Attitude towards Team, and Communication Skills. According to how they score on these dimensions, players are categorized under one of four professional profiles detected by Owiwi’s psychometric tool:
- Loafers, who tend to reduce their efforts, when working on a collective task compared to when working alone or coactively (in a team consisting of 2 individuals)
- Alleviators, who tend to be the first persons to provide assistance to someone when in need and seek to distribute the workload fairly between themselves the other team members.
- Influencers, who tend to direct others to agree with their opinions, usually demonstrating high persuasive-communication and social skills.
- Controllers, who tend to control others’ people actions and behaviours and demonstrate a command personality, exerting power and control over their environment.
We then went on to group all this individual data in order to discern the team relations, strengths, and pitfalls of each team. And with Owiwi’s invaluable help, we created a complete and thorough report for every startup.
Level 4: Detecting Investment-Worthy Teams
To make sense of the Owiwi data, we compared the results we got through it with the evaluations Interviewers gave each team in order to map possible correlations – and from there on it was decision-making time. Here are three of our most significant findings powered by Owiwi:
- 33% of The Accelerator semifinalist teams consisted just of Alleviator-type personalities, showcasing great teamwork skills. However, the lack of an Influencer in some of these teams indicated the team’s reluctance to take on responsibility, thus slowing down their decision-making processes.
- Certain semifinalist teams with more than 3 co-founders in their mix would intrinsically present barriers to securing investment. How so? Even in cases where work profiles were complementary, the absence of a leader slows down operations and achieving results even at this early stage.
- In the case of small startup teams, we discovered that the combination most likely to secure startup success, specifically when it comes to market validation and locking in seed funding, includes a 1:2 mix of Influencers and Alleviators respectively.
Level 5: Creating Stronger Startups through A Strategic Alliance
At Metavallon we believe in supporting the startup ecosystem in any way that we can. And so does the team at Owiwi. “Having been through this gauntlet ourselves, we know how difficult it can be at times to cope with the immense workload and responsibility; and we can relate”, explains Vartholomaios.
To make sure that we support our accelerating teams in the best way possible, when it comes to building long-lasting relationships with their future employees, we secured them a spot in the game – literally.
As such, “Owiwi will offer Metavallon and all its accelerating startups, free and unrestricted access to our unique assessment tool. Either to help them make a smarter hiring decision, benchmark their team, or to help them build better functioning and productive teams. In addition, our tool can help individuals build upon their areas of improvement and develop their interpersonal skills further”, enthusiastically shares Dova.
Level 6: Venturing Forth in the Startup Game
By now, using Owiwi as a team assessment tool should seem like serious fun, right? With us and 80% of The Accelerator semifinalists giving the tool a high score, we can only reassure you it is.
Indeed, the venture is as serious about business as it is about gaming. While still in its beta launch, the company has attracted 800 new users and has added over 20 SMEs and multinational corporations, such as Media Markt, L’Oréal Greece and InsuranceMarket, to its clientele.
As for us, we believe that following our example, Owiwi has a valid case study to make its break into the investment and acceleration world too.
Want to know more about the powerful partnerships we forged for The Accelerator 2016? Check out these stories:
- The Road to Investment: How Fundacity and Metavallon Source the Most Innovative Startups In Europe
- The Accelerator Bridges Europe and Silicon Valley Empowered By Investment and Growth Pioneer Xponential Works
- Metavallon Among Top Global Accelerator Partners of Microsoft BizSpark