Shotcall is the destination for gamers and influencers to connect with one another. This Atlanta-based company provides a platform for fans to engage with their favorite people and handles the coordination and monetization for influencers to reach their massive fan base through gaming.
“Gaming is already accessible to everyone – with over one-third of the global population being active gamers. But with social distancing forcing everyone online, even celebrities, athletes, and famous artists have become aware of their ability to leverage gaming as an efficient way to connect with their fans. Shotcall is the next generation of gaming that allows fans to get into the games with their favorite people, rather than just sit on the sidelines watching,” said Thomas Gentle, co-founder and CEO of Shotcall.
Gentle always had a passion for technology and gaming. Growing up, he had a severe stutter and went through most of his childhood almost entirely mute. Video games became a solace for him. Through gaming, he found a community where he could communicate and build relationships. “I came to find that gaming is the ideal medium with which anyone can engage as equals. I realized it didn’t matter that I had a stutter if I could kick someone’s ass in Call of Duty,” he said.
Gentle graduated Georgia Tech in 2017 with a Bachelor of Business Administration. It was here that he met the other two co-founders of Shotcall, Gordon Li and Riley Auten. Gentle brought the idea of Shotcall to them, and the three began working on the project at Google Labs. As the platform progressed, Gentle, Li, and Auten began going to all the major conventions, including Pax, Dreamhack, and Twitchcon. “Eventually we got into TechStars, which was a Godsend in developing our professionalism and maturity. TechStars is where we really had a formal platform that we could launch,” said Gentle.
Shotcall does have competitors in the gaming industry, such as Patreon and Cameo. Gentle said, “Shotcall is different because we’re the only platform that delivers a valuable ROI for both the fan and the content creator. On Shotcall, we’re creating a community for people who love gaming to engage with each other through the games that they love, while also creating monetization potential for gamers with a following.”
This past spring, when Shotcall was selected for TechStars Seattle, Gentle, Li, and Auten connected with several investors. Through this networking, Shotcall secured a $2.2 million seed round, led by Initial Capital and New Stack, and closed by Lerer Hippeau.
Gentle said, “New Stack approached us early on and followed us pretty much throughout our entire journey. They were adamant that they wanted to support us and we’ve been very fortunate to build a very strong relationship with them. We were connected to Initial Capital through relationships that we had at TechStars. We knew that Initial Capital was very picky with who they choose to invest in, but IC co-founder and partner Ken Lamb and I really hit it off. We found that we had a lot of similar characteristics and were able to quickly build a great relationship. From there IC decided to lead the round and New Stack followed to co-lead.”
Shotcall’s story with Lerer Hippeau is a little different. Gentle had found this Forbes article by Sterling Campbell, an investment scout for Lerer. “All of the data and insights spoke to everything we were doing with Shotcall. I was using this in our pitch deck before we ever approached Lerer. Once we did, they recognized the data and everything we were speaking to immediately. We connected with Sterling and some other folks over there and they ended up closing our round,” said Gentle.
Prior to the seed round, Shotcall was a team of only four to six people. Gentle said, “Now we’re close to 15 between Atlanta, Seattle, Texas, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and even Serbia. We’re still hiring and looking to grow our team.”
The gaming industry has experienced growth because of the pandemic, and Shotcall is taking advantage of the opportunity. “If you ask anyone in this space they’ll tell you that success for startups and investments have a lot to do with timing. With the rise in social distancing and communities becoming isolated there has been an increasing demand for solutions that allow for everyone to engage. This has applied directly to Shotcall. For example, legacy influencers such as artists, actors, and athletes, have struggled in the past to find a means to engage with their community in the digital world. Now that so many in-person activities are on hold, Shotcall would like to offer a hand in having them bring their audience to the digital space through a mutual passion – that passion being gaming. If we can be a positive force and a means for a healthy escape during a time of uncertainty for many people out there, then we would love to help,” said Gentle.
People can start engaging with their favorite content creators and others in the gaming community on Shotcall.gg. They can also find Shotcall on Twitter @ShotcallGG and shoot them a DM to learn more about the platform and gaming community.