Meet the startup founder who quit Google and wants you to use her gaming app instead of Facebook

Bozena rezabGameeBozena Rezab, CEO of Gamee.

It’s a bold move for anyone to quit the career comforts Google. But Prague-based Bozena Rezab, who previously headed up monetisation at YouTube in 14 European markets, did just that. She left to set up Gamee — an app which hosts mini games on its own social network.

“Some people say nobody quits Google. You are either fired or crazy. So I was crazy. I quit to play games at work,” Rezab joked over the phone to Business Insider.

Gamee was built to fill the spare moments in life: the time spent waiting for a bus, or during an ad break on TV. Basically any moment that you would usually fill by browsing Facebook on your phone. The company received a $600,000 investment from Jan Rezab — Bozena’s husband and the founder of Socialbakers — in 2015. 

Within its first seven months, it has already become a platform for 100,000 gamers. So Business Insider decided it was time to interview Rezab to see if Gamee really could disrupt the world of mobile gaming.

What is Gamee?

Gamee hosts multiple “casual” mobile games on one app (think Bejeweled or 1010!). At the time of speaking, Rezab said there were 32 games in the app, but Gamee expects to launch something new every other week. Your actvity in the app — the games you play, the scores you get, create a newsfeed. Within that newsfeed, Gamee users are encouraged to compare their scores with friends, challenge them, swap game tips, and have conversations.

In other words, the Gamee fills that gap when someone downloads something like Candy Crush Saga and asks a friend how do I get past level 33?

You won’t find immersive platform games like Assassin’s Creed, Rezab said: “We call it a snackable experience with games. You play anytime you have a minute. It’s the moment when you take your phone out of your pocket and you would scroll through your Facebook or Twitter feed. Instead of this you open Gamee and play games. It’s very easy to start with and very easy to get into games.”

She added: “Gamee could be the only app you need for really casual gaming. The beauty about it is that when we release a new app, it streams automatically, so you don’t need to update. The games are web-based, so it doesn’t increase the size of the app at all.”

Rezab doesn’t lack ambition for Gamee, she said: “We want to get to a million users first and then of course we’d like to be the next Instagram with games.”

Gamee team

The Gamee team.

What does Gamee do differently to other gaming apps and how does it make money?

Rezab is a passionate opponent of the business model that currently exists in mobile gaming. “In-advertisements is something we strongly believe has wrecked the gaming industry,” she said. “You have to pay to get extra lives, or you have to wait one day. In some games you have to pay to win: it’s not possible to win without paying.”

“That’s something we have been quite critical about. This is something we do not want to do. We want to keep gaming as open as possible.”

Instead, Gamee is championing native advertising by creating branded games for companies. It recently created a game, Basket Boy, for mobile phone network 02. Rezab said: “For the brand this is a way to have an advertising format which is not perceived as advertising, because we all know adblockers are here to stay. So they have something that people like to play with. It’s very hard with any other type of advertising. It’s been going pretty well so far.”

Rezab did not disclose the total revenue of the young company, but she did reveal that a branded game costs sponsors around €50,000 (around $55,100).

What can you play on Gamee?

Gamee is a new company and big-name mobile games are currently unavailable on the app, which presents Rezab with a problem. Right now it’s impossible to log on and play 2048, Tetris, or Hungry Shark on Gamee for example. Instead the app hosts its own versions of these games. Others are original creations, sometimes inspired by Rezab’s six- and three-year-old sons.

Gameplay on the app is slick and loading times are tiny, but the games are arguably too simple to be genuinely satisfying and some feel too much like ripoffs of games you already know. Rezab, aware of this problem, told Business Insider: “We have just launched a beta program for third parties to publish games on Gamee and we will extend and open this in the next months. We planned to launch the platform later next year, but we received many requests from third parties … so we are pushing this earlier.”

This February, Gamee hosted its first conference — Gameecon. Here developers were taught how to launch games on the app. “We have 150 registered developers. So we are very curious about how this is going to go, but very excited. Any developer who does web-based games will be able, if they meet certain conditions, to publish it on Gamee,” Rezab said. As the platform grows, Gamee has the potential to be the native home of the next huge mobile game, but until it can persuade the big game companies to let Gamee users play their hit titles in the app, it will feel frustrating for mobile game fans.

Who is Gamee targeted at?

Gamee’s main audience is  people aged 18 to 30. Rezab explained: “Young people have a lot of time to play and they play all variety of games like on Xbox and PlayStation — different, more complicated, games. The older they get, the less time they have to look for new games. They look for the ease of experience.”

The Czech entrepreneur is focused on profiling Gamee’s users. “We have 100,000 active gamers at this moment. We have very strong organic growth, we launched in July and we have tested many things. And essentially the community we have is mostly organic. So people tell each other about Gamee.”

“(Gamee users) open it seven times a day, which is pretty intense. It starts early in the morning and then late night. The average time spent per day is 25 minutes. So it’s a lot per day.”

When Business Insider spoke to Rezab, one problem was that her former employer, Google, auto-corrected searches for “Gamee” to “Game.” Rezab said: “I hope it will get better at Google search. I need to send one more letter to Google.” In the short time since that interview, the glitch seems to have have been solved.

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