Just like a start-up company, your success very much depends on your ability to plan strategically, problem-solve, and work as a team. When outside circumstances disrupt your plans, these skills are vital for success.
With hard work and persistence, Karen Seror has built on these skills over the years jumping from Marcom Manager at Amen to Marketing Manager at Adobe and now Chief Marketing Officer at Gamestream, the world leader in cloud gaming solutions for the B2B market.
Karen Seror’s journey as a business leader has been one of innovation and disruption. She always worked at start-up companies which comes with its own trials and tribulations, with the addition of being a woman working in tech adding another layer to the journey.
Throughout her career, Karen had grown alongside technology – from her very first marketing position when the internet was completely new trough to the digitalisation of content. Now, in her current position, cloud technology is at the frontier, growing by the minute.
With these developments have come ample challenges that she had to overcome. Business plans have had to pivot, start again or come to an abrupt end due to circumstances out of Karen’s control.
At Gamestream, she is extremely proud of her work in challenging stereotypes and perceptions within the industry. When she first started, some didn’t understand her role as Chief Marketing Officer or see the need for marketing efforts. She showed her value, both personally as a female working in the tech industry and from the business perspective of increasing brand awareness and sales growth.
Karen’s achievements were only possible with an excellent support system around her. She has been fortunate to have worked alongside a brilliant team throughout her career, who have encouraged and supported her every move. As cliché as it sounds, teamwork really does make the dream work.
In an interview with Insights Success, Karen shares valuable facts highlighting her professional tenure and journey in the dynamic industry.
Below are the excerpts from the interview:
Tell us about your company and its mission and vision; how does your company thrive towards enabling advancements in the ever-evolving gaming industry?
Three visionaries founded Gamestream in 2018 – Ivan Lebeau, CEO; Xavier Cavin, Director of R&D and Olivier Lebigot, CTO, had a shared mission of democratising the joys of video game experiences. Together, they wanted to make console-quality gaming available for everyone, anywhere and anytime.
We’re now the leading provider of Cloud Gaming solutions for B2B industries, especially telecom operators and the hospitality market. We offer our partners a complete end-to-end cloud gaming solution.
Although they are in charge of marketing, billing and hosting, Gamestream supplies the innovative technology, highly cost-effective servers, premium content (AA and AAA titles provided by leading video games publishers), and sophisticated data reporting. We help our partners reduce customer churn and increase average revenue per user by enhancing their market position as an entertainment hub.
Gamestream’s service has been deployed across white-labelled brands throughout Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Examples of this include Telekom Slovenije’s NEO Gaming, Etisalat’s Arena Pro Gaming, Chunghwa Telecom’s Hami Cloud Gaming, and Sunrise-UPC’s Sunrise Cloud gaming.
Recognising our customer needs and challenges, Gamestream’s proprietary cloud gaming technology can thrive with relatively low internet speeds (3Mbps bandwidth), meaning it’s great for companies where expensive gaming hardware and connections aren’t always realistic. This is how Telekom Indonesia became the first operator telecoms to deploy our service in their country in 2019. More recently, JioGames chose Gamestream to revolutionise gaming for 1.4 billion Indian consumers.
In 2020, we launched Pleio, our consumer brand. This was a natural progression for us following the success of our B2B solution. With Pleio, we offer the same proprietary tech and gaming experiences with the addition of community management.
Enlighten us on how you have been impacting the gaming industry through your expertise in the market.
It’s hard to believe now, but I was the first woman employed at Gamestream! When I first started, I was working alongside 42 men, which for some people, is pretty intimidating. I took this in my stride and used it as motivation to advocate for more diversity – not only at Gamestream but also within the wider gaming industry itself.
For me, diversity fosters industry-changing ideas. Having multiple perspectives not only makes for a better working environment but helps move the company forward. As a woman, I think differently to some of my male colleagues, and as a result, I’m able to offer different perspectives.
I’ve come to utilise my expertise to empower our team and reinforce our company values. I’m honoured to say that we now have lots of women working at Gamestream across all levels and areas at the company; currently, 40% of our executive team are women.
From a business perspective, my expertise with international and multicultural B2B2C start-ups has taught me valuable lessons, such as adaptability, agility, and the ability to multi-task – all of which I’ve used to inspire our team. As a result, we’ve since progressed rapidly over the past three years across all divisions, including our sales growth and thought leadership.
Describe in detail the values and the work culture that drives your organization.
At the core, Gamestream is all about using our tech experience for good. Our founders firmly believe in the healing power of video games and were inspired by the game Re-Mission, which has been shown to help young people navigate their cancer diagnoses and treatments. As such, we work closely with partners such as BePlayer One, which aims to make gaming more inclusive for people with health conditions or impairments.
Also, L’École des Héros, which helps teenagers overcome social anxiety through games. Whenever we set out to create something or update our business model, we always think of our end users and how our work can positively impact us.
Our work culture is split into the following: candour, freedom, respect and responsibility. Failure is a positive experience; it shows that you tried and learned something. We encourage each other to express their honest thoughts and opinions (with positive intent), and to have a positive mindset. As an employee, this practice is particularly motivating as it encourages you to build self-confidence and trust your instincts.
The way you work as a team determines your company’s success. When you establish a great team structure, you can get through the hardest obstacles – after all, there’s no better place than a start-up to face big challenges!
Undeniably, technology is playing a significant role in almost every sector. How are you advancing towards technological innovations to make your solutions resourceful?
Our technology offers end users an amazing gaming experience with internet speeds as low as 3 Mbps, compared to the 10-15 Mbps recommended by other cloud gaming platforms. Unlike other services, we reduce the burden of extra bandwidth usage on telcos by closely integrating with their server infrastructure.
By implementing this agility, we offer a much more cost-effective and profitable solution than other providers. It also means our service performs better in markets with less developed network infrastructure – and will continue to perform extremely well as 4K, IA, VR, AR, and 5G continues to roll out!
What, according to you, could be the next significant change in your sector? How is your company preparing to be a part of that change?
The rise of digital technology has shaken up all sectors, especially the entertainment industry, which is a pioneer in terms of usage. 2023 will mark yet another milestone in the art of crossover between creative industries (movie, gaming, music…).
Over the last few years, experiences based on interactive narration (both in games and streaming platforms such as Netflix) have demonstrated the public’s desire to continue experiencing their favourite universes in other media. Recognising this, some publishers and telecom operators are working to combine various content (video games, films and others) and become the one-stop-shop for entertainment.
The advent of VR, juxtaposed with the latest graphic rendering software (such as Unreal Engine 5) and Artificial Intelligence, allows for new immersive and interactive experiences. Thus, it will eventually be possible to (with the help of a VR headset) go behind the scenes of one’s favourite series or embody the protagonist of a game like never before.
We are working on new disruptive solutions that will empower telecom operators and media groups to become an entertainment hub and, as a result, increase brand affinity and loyalty – especially towards Gen Z, who are more open to change.
Where do you envision yourself to be in the long run, and what are your future goals for Gamestream?
When the first start-up I worked for was acquired for 20 million Euros, my brother said to me, “this is a chance.” When it happened a second time, and the start-up was acquired for 800 million Euros, my brother said to me, “you were lucky – if you succeed a third time, it will be a talent.”
So, my personal and professional challenge to exceed my brother’s and the industry’s expectations is to help Gamestream raise a second round of fundraising. I want to take the company I’m passionate about to the point where it’s ready to be acquired by an ambitious company that is set to continue driving the future of entertainment!
From our track record, I know that Gamestream will continue evolving with the further expansion of our services. We are currently collaborating with other companies to help mould the future of entertainment, combining cloud gaming with other types of technology and media to become a holistic offering for fun with friends and families.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the dynamic gaming industry?
My biggest piece of advice is to trust your instinct and never give up, no matter how hard it gets.
When you think about it, entrepreneurs are much like avid gamers – they’re always hustling and chasing the thrill. While it’s hard work and can sometimes be ruthless, if you stick it out and work through it, the results are amazing. In fact, digital gaming can provide new and budding entrepreneurs with relevant skills to grow and develop their business etiquette.
Continue learning! The gaming industry is constantly developing, so it’s important to keep up to date with the latest trends and news. Gaming opens tremendous business opportunities, whether it’s in Cloud Gaming, Immersive Gaming experiences with AR and VR, the Metaverse, Esports or new business models such as Play2earn – the list goes on!
For anyone looking to venture into the gaming industry, do it – the industry as a whole is great, and after all, you get paid to play video games! What other industry allows you to do that?