Every story has a beginning, middle and end, however, most happen over the course of a lifetime. Not over 12 months. As for everyone, this last year has proved to be a little bit different here at KwizzBit HQ and although there have been hard times and difficult decisions, I wouldn’t have changed any of it.
On the 23rd March 2020 as the world descended into chaos and the true extent of the coronavirus pandemic was being realised, many individuals and businesses like ours were thrown into turmoil. Decisions had to be made, unfamiliar paths had to be walked and most importantly, people had to be looked after.
As we went into the first of three lockdowns, we had a choice: sit, ride it out and wait for it all to blow over (which I’m not saying is a bad decision), or move quickly and make things happen. We chose the latter.
Truth be told, our hand was forced. We’re not the kind to sit around and wait for things to happen. Although we all have families and each other to look out for, once we knew we had options, moving quickly was the only choice.
Kwizzbit started life to stop people cheating in pub quizzes. As a result, we have added value to hundreds of venues all over the UK by supplying simple (and very exciting) quiz software for venues to successfully run their own events. In March, hospitality shut down. We lost 95% of our revenue overnight.
Our first thought was $#*%. Then we quickly drew breath, got together and asked how can we help those that have helped us? How can we add value to people right now?
Pivoting to live events was the answer. “Stay safe. Stay connected. Keep quizzing” became the mantra. We were there to help in any way we could.
We allowed all our current customers to run their quiz events virtually using live streaming platforms at no cost to themselves. We reduced our subscriptions prices (Something which has stuck to this day). We added a low-cost play-at-home platform for people to connect with family and friends so they could use KwizzBit for their virtual quiz night. We also built enough content into the system so there was something for everyone (there are now over 5000 quizzes in there).
It must be said, this wasn’t like flicking a switch. For the game to handle the sheer number of participants, the infrastructure needed work. This presented the biggest challenge we’ve had to date. Building a product like ours is no easy task but scaling it is even harder. Getting it right had kept us awake at night and scratching our heads during the day.
Thankfully, this tale has a happy ending. We triumphed, and thanks to our Lead Developer, CTO and development partners, we navigated the stormy waters and emerged on the other side with one of the best systems we’ve ever owned. 6000 people could now play seamlessly in a single event, and our nearest neighbour could only handle as many as 2000.
These innovations led to partnerships with some of the world’s biggest brands including Nintendo, Barclays and the FA, and large-scale events with celebrities like Chris Tarrant, Konnie Huq, Chris Kamara and Shaun Williamson, as well as raising over £70,000 for charity. To date, over 500,000 people have played KwizzBit.
We’ve connected brands to audiences, families to friends and colleagues to co-workers all through live interactive trivia!
One of the clear positives to come out of this time has been the clarity around what we are doing and why we are doing it. This transitional period led us to our true value. It’s instilled upon us a razor-sharp focus to complete our mission to enable anyone to create and play amazing quizzes from anywhere in the world, and our vision to connect 100,000 hosts with 5 million players by 2025.
It was clear to all of us that to taking KwizzBit forward would require investment. It’s something we’d approached tentatively pre-pandemic, but as we began really picking up momentum, finding the right people to buy into our values and help us scale became our number one priority.
Pitching during a pandemic is not so different from pitching pre-pandemic but there is a sense of things happening because they have to. There are still projections and forecasts along with all the ifs, buts and maybes but there is also real sense of balls-to-the-wall entrepreneurship: “Look at what we’re doing now and look the difference we are making while the world is tilting on its axis!”
It is here that the entrepreneur is most comfortable. By giving the entrepreneur problems to solve, you are putting us in our happy place. These times allow us to be at our most creative and it is the seemingly impossible challenges that get us out of bed to build teams and solutions to tackle these things head on.
By not only surviving but striding forward through the pandemic we were not only validating the decisions we made but we were proving value in the team we have built. Everyone got in on the action and proved that we have what it takes to see this through.
Passion turned to pitches. Pitches turned to offers. Yes, some investors turned us down, but we turned down ones that weren’t right for us. Some said yes, but not yes right now. Some told us it wouldn’t work. Some didn’t see what we see, that’s just business.
Thankfully we found some amazing partners and angels that not only get it but believe in it too. Due to their commitment and the backing of our current investors, we are proud to announce we have raised over £250,000 to scale the platform to a global audience.
Development is well under way, and we are on course to build out the new and improved system, to improve UX and UI to launch KwizzBit to new markets and allow over 100,000 participants to take part in a single game later in the year.
We realise we are very lucky. There are still lots of ups and downs, and we are well aware of others who haven’t been able to navigate this period or have had to really pull back to make it through.
Making mistakes, being self-aware and learning along the way is something I believe can only make you stronger.
Things happen that are out of our control (like a global-flipping-pandemic) but it’s what we do and how react that defines the outcome. If you are sat in traffic beeping at the car in front, you are simply expressing a need to control what you cannot and therefore, wasting precious energy.
If you instead use your time to learn and listen, you will be able to work on things you can influence and move yourself and your business forward (and probably your car too).