Womenize! – Inspiring Stories is our weekly series featuring inspirational women from games and tech. For this edition we talked to Franziska Bülow, Founder and CEO of PURE4U. She speaks about her transition from city administration into gaming, the challenges faced as a woman in esports, her role and her commitment to social responsibility. Read more about Franziska in this interview:
Hi Franziska! What motivated your transition to the gaming industry following 12 years in city administration, and what obstacles did you overcome along the way?

The journey into gaming began at 27, a rather late start for me. Until then, console gaming at home was my realm, shared with friends or played solo. The realms of online gaming, Twitch, Discord, and Steam were alien territories. A chance encounter with a Twitch streamer sparked my interest, opening doors to new games and friendships. The encouragement of these newfound friends led me to venture into streaming, where I met my current partner, collaborating in games and beyond.

In 2019, his invitation to join an esports team marked a pivotal moment, and I embraced the opportunity. What started as a hobby evolved into a profound transformation. I seized control of a hobby clan after three months, injecting positive changes, structure, and official registration to professionalize esports. Bootcamps, LAN parties, expos, and events became the heartbeat of my leisure, shaping vacations around these immersive experiences.

Partnerships and sponsorships revealed a different path, challenging the notion that public service was my sole destiny. Consequently, at the close of 2021, I chose to depart from city administration and embrace the private sector, joining a merchandise provider for streamers. Although the stint was brief due to company challenges, it ignited a journey toward self-employment.

This path has been riddled with challenges—sleepless nights, relentless outreach with over 300 emails, and an unwavering pursuit of improvement. Lessons were drawn from “colleagues,” courses purchased, and tips absorbed, yet the quest for excellence persisted. The demanding esports community required full dedication, often met with scarce reciprocity. Gratitude was a rare guest, and constructive feedback even rarer.

Navigating this industry as a woman introduced additional hurdles, facing a lack of seriousness from male counterparts. Comments like “esports is for men” underscored the misogyny present. This experience fueled my commitment to addressing gender disparities, particularly through initiatives like PlayPink. After a year, earning the moniker “Clan-Mama,” my role extended beyond gaming. A community, molded with the ethos “Esports becomes family,” demanded strictness against hate speech and negative expressions.

However, growth meant realizing my “chicks” would eventually leave the nest to navigate their paths. Players come and go in an esports organization, sometimes lifting my spirits and at other times weighing heavily on my heart.

In every obstacle, I found an opportunity to transform, breaking barriers and creating a community where everyone feels included. It’s not just about playing games; it’s about evolving, both individually and as a collective force.

In your role as founder of PURE4U, melding management and marketing, how does your public service experience shape your strategy within the gaming industry, particularly in managing talents and collaborating with advertising partners?

PURE4U was born out of my passion for laws and the close, trusting relationships I foster with streamers. The spark ignited when I helped a friend with her merch store, unraveling numerous errors in a contract. Friends saw an opportunity for me to leverage my legal acumen for personal gain by starting my own agency—an idea I initially approached with skepticism.

However, the vision crystallized as I presented a concept to one of my tech partners, leading to a substantial material and financial foundation for my agency. Beginning with two artists, our numbers flourished. Thanks to a recommendation and interview by LikeGames, I caught the attention of numerous streamers. My quest on Twitch was to discover unique individuals deviating from the norm, ready to collectively unleash their full potential.

Expanding beyond the talent sector, PURE4U now offers services like Impressum, Creator-Circle, and Post/Storage—all meticulously organized and structured. This achievement is a testament to my unwavering commitment to legal precision. While my public service role may not have left a profound impact, lessons from my training as an administrative assistant still guide me today, especially in tasks like applying for information blocks or registering small businesses.

Moreover, the challenging experiences with supervisors have molded my approach to dealing with talents and partners, igniting a strong desire to support and uplift them.

Beyond gaming, your commitment to Aesir eSports emphasizes social responsibility, notably through the PlayPink initiative. How do you incorporate social missions into your professional journey, and what personal significance does this hold for you?

PlayPink is my heartfelt passion project, born in 2020 as a charity event under this impactful hashtag, tied to “Aesir goes Pink.” Together with my esports organization, we rallied streamers to raise funds for “Pink Ribbon Germany.” This cause hits close to home, given the prevalence of the breast cancer gene in my family.

The underrepresentation of breast cancer awareness compelled me to act. One in 8 women faces this challenge, touching the lives of mothers, aunts, sisters, wives, friends, teachers, bosses, and colleagues—making it a crucial topic for everyone. Advocating for the well-being of women, both in immediate circles and beyond, is a universal concern, and preventive care can make a life-saving difference.

In 2020, we adapted to COVID-19 measures with online streams. The following year, we organized a significant live event at a partnered boot camp, a self-produced endeavor with volunteers generously contributing their time. Companies, partners, and sponsors rallied behind this cause. Despite financial hurdles in 2022, another organization stepped in to oversee the complete production and organization of the live event.

The introduction of the second theme, “Women in Esports,” became imperative as many women face negative experiences in gaming and online spaces. The professional esports scene, especially in leadership roles of (semi-) professional organizations, remains inadequately represented by women.

These intertwined themes feature prominently in my conversations with new clients or partners, offering a glimpse into my personality and unwavering dedication to causes close to my heart.

Thanks for this interview, Franziska!

Franziska’s links: LinkedIn

Womenize! – Inspiring Stories Feature by Madeleine Egger