Womenize! – Inspiring Stories is our weekly series featuring inspirational women from games and tech. For this edition we talked to Sophie Vo, Venture Partner at Concept Ventures, Founder of Rise and Play & ex-Studio Lead at Voodoo. She explains how to build up a new studio and speaks about the importance of solid leadership. Read more about Sophie in this interview:
Sophie, you’ve been responsible for opening a major game studio in Berlin. Could you share how you have approached this task?

At first, it was important to get clarity for me on why I was building this new studio, such as what was my personal motivation, beyond the mission I was provided by the company to open a new casual studio. From there, I could define clear values and the culture I needed to create to support my vision and mission.
I deliberately took a step back to not jump directly on making a game but thinking about what kind of team and culture I wanted to build first. Hiring makes up 50% of the future success of your studio. So I focused on “First Who, then What?” as advocated by Jim Collins in his book Good to Great. 

What inspired you to found Rise and Play?

After 13 years working in games leading teams and game development, I observed that the main factor of change and influence is leadership. You can try to fix the game, fix a process, fix a team, but the impact of all those efforts is limited if you don’t have a solid leadership team and culture. I noticed how the conversations on leadership were overlooked in gaming, so I wanted to bridge the gap with Rise and Play, as a content platform to share the best practices in leadership among the influential and thought leaders.

By improving leadership practices in the industry, we will build better workplaces for creative people, and ultimately better game experiences for players. Rise and Play is now a podcast platform giving more visibility to amazing women in executive roles. Representation and the existence of role models are important to encourage more women to take leadership positions and be part of the fundamental change to create more diverse places in the future.

As an investor, which factors do you take into consideration when deciding whether or not to support a new game studio?

With the same philosophy on how I approached building a game studio, I focus first on the people. I look at the founding team first: What is their track record? Did they work together before? Are they already a great team?

I also look at the long-term vision of the team, do they have even one? Are they in it for the long run? Building a new studio or company is incredibly hard. You will need strong motivations and energy to go through all the hurdles of the business, therefore the need to have a strong Why.

At last, I look at how the team is critical about their own ideas, how aware they are of the risks of their business and how far they think about mitigation plans. A business never goes as planned, so as a team, you need to be ready mentally and logistically to pivot quickly, before you run out of cash and manage to prove your team’s ability to execute.

Thanks for this interview, Sophie!

Sophie’s links: LinkedInConcept VenturesRise and Play

Womenize! – Inspiring Stories Feature by Sophie Brugmann