Mark Walsh, founder of KwizzBit, is hoping to scale the platform to accommodate up to 100,000 hosts.
Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, the Leeds-based firm’s main market was pub quizzes. Since the first lockdown it has helped the likes of Nintendo, Amazon and Barclays run virtual quizzes.
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, Mr Walsh said: “This funding will allow us to scale. When the pandemic hit in March, we basically lost 90 per cent of our revenue overnight. Pretty much the entire hospitality industry shut down.
“We had two options. We either sat still and waited to see what would happen or we could pivot to what we did. Virtual events and quizzes over Zoom became popular. That saw us work with lots of people.
“The problem that we had was that we had a piece of software that was used to run pub quizzes for a few hundred pubs with a few people. All of a sudden we had hundreds and hundreds of people wanting to run the game. We had to invest in the platform to scale it.”
Four angel investors have provided £250,000 to help the business launch KwizzBit 2.0, as it is being called.
One of the investors is Rob Wilmot, who helped build tech businesses such as Freeserve and Crowdicity.
“We’re going from scrappy start-up to serious scale-up,” Mr Walsh said. “It gives the business a great sounding board. It also gives us the ability to work with someone who has scaled technical businesses before to help guide us through the next stage.”
KwizzBit has also received interest from other parties and kept the investment round open for a potential extra £150,000.
It has also agreed a technology partnership with Leeds-based digital agency Parallax.
The pandemic initially rocked the business. Mr Walsh said: “We literally lost all of our customers.”
However, it opened new markets for the tech firm and has also given it a “much more educated audience” with more and more people getting used to the idea of playing interactive quizzes.
“What KwizzBit 2.0 is going to do is bring all of those people together on one platform,” Mr Walsh says. “Our aim is to connect over 100,000 hosts with five million players over the next three years.”
Pivoting to online events kept revenues stable throughout the pandemic with a 40 per cent increase in turnover forecast for 2021.
The Leeds-based business, which was founded by Mr Walsh in 2017, now has six employees.
KwizzBit has recently worked with TV hosts Chris Tarrant, Konnie Huq and former footballer Chris Kamara.
It has helped to raise over £70,000 for various charities by hosting large-scale events using celebrities.
It also white labelled its platform for video game giant Nintendo, which wanted to bring its fans together to celebrate Super Mario’s 35th anniversary.
“We were the software that pulled it all together,” Mr Walsh said. “It’s not bad for a few people from Leeds to be able to do that.”
The founder of KwizzBit believes that the “genie is out of the bottle” when it comes to people working and socialising virtually with many likely to deploy a hybrid approach.
However, Mr Walsh says that many in-person events will incorporate a virtual strategy, even as the country continues to unlock.
He added: “We started out to stop people cheating in pub quizzes.
“It comes full circle. We are now able to help the industry get people back into their pubs by playing interactive pub quizzes using our software.”
Kwizzbit has employed its first full-time development lead as well as creating a role for a digital marketing executive.
Finding the right partner
It was just as much about attracting the right investment partner as it was about raising funds, says Mark Walsh.
“The best advice I can give is you need to find the right people as much as you need to find the right investors,” he said.
Rob Wilmot said: “This isn’t normally a sector that I would invest in.
“However, I was impressed with the vision and values of the company along with the background and passion of the team. Their potential to scale is huge.
“It’s very satisfying to have added a Yorkshire-based company to my investment portfolio and I look forward to helping Mark and his team achieve the success they deserve.”
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