This week we have an interview with MoRally founder and Berlin Startup Weekend winner Juma Al-JouJou. It is interesting to see how grass-roots entrepreneurialism is emerging through bootcamps and weekend hackathons in Europe. Enjoy!
Tell us a little bit about your background and why you founded MoRally?
I graduated in philosophy & economics for my Bachelor degree in Bavaria. Then I worked as SAP consultant for a while before starting a master degree in Innovation Management & Entrepreneurship in Berlin and the Netherlands. Right now I am writing my master thesis about the commercialization of MoRally, and (hopefully graduate this summer).
I founded MoRally because 1. entrepreneurship is my thing where I can apply my multidisciplinary background and 2. via MoRally I can feel I can make real impact while having fun along the way
What is MoRally all about? What is your vision?
MoRally started as a classical strategy board game. By adding the theme of Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability it got a slightly educational touch, but it firstly is an excellent strategy board game.
However, the main idea is to develop MoRally as an online board game, just as one can play Monopoly online, too nowadays.
In the online game, companies can advertise their real sustainability projects (eg. their hybrid car or their environmental project) on the action cards. Players can play it for free. The coolest thing, though, is that the corporate sponsors commit to pay 1 cent for every victory point of the online players to charity projects. The players can pick the respective charity project to be donated to on a online charity platform. Thus, the player invests time instead of money to realize a donation. The player donates and companies pay his donation.
This way, even kids, or people with little financial resources can donate by playing. And the more a player plays, the more he can donate. This model links people’s genuine motivation to donate with companies’ big financial resources.
“Donate by playing instead of paying!”
How do you monetise? What is the business model?
Companies pay for the In-Game Advertising. Since these ads are actually content of the actions cards, they don’t distract but enhance the game play.
Furthermore, players can share on their facebook wall a post telling their friends that they made a company donate to a charity project by playing MoRally. This gives companies further publicity, so for these share companies pay additionally.
Finally, some online players will love to play the classical physical board game with their friends, and hence order the board game.
Tell us about your team.
So far, I am all on my own. I created and tested the game (more than 100 times with more than 100 different people in 9 months) and also came up with the business model. However, I need a developer/CTO and a web designer to make the online project happen. Finally, support in marketing, finance, and legal matters is welcome, too!
What stage are you at with the business and what comes next?
I am negotiating with investors who might financially complement the sum that MoRally will be able to raise via crowdfunding. So far, it went very well with investors, I didn’t even have to formally apply to any investor. Some contacted me directly and some were connected to key partners of mine.
Furthermore, first cooperation partners have been found for the corporate customer acquisition (sustainability communication consultancies) and I am approaching charity platforms.
After winning 3rd Rank in Startup Weekend Enschede February 2012 (see Pitch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZ7xmOPJUY4) and the prize for “The most innovative Business Idea” in Startup Weekend Berlin May 2012, MoRally was awarded the Social Impact Lab scholarship in June 2012 (see Pitch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofxOACckeH0&feature=youtu.be). This means 4 months intensive coaching and co-working space for free. Furthermore, the social business incubator RallyPad (http://rallypad.org/eu/about/?lang=de) offered free co-working space to MoRally for several months, too.
The Fraunhofer Institute, the biggest applied Research Institute of Europe, is already official partner of MoRally. They help MoRally to contact companies in sustainability conferences, sustainability summer schools, or present the board game to a broader public at “Lange Nacht der Wissenschaft” at Leipzig on June 29th (http://www.wissenschaftsnacht-leipzig.de/Einrichtungen/fraunhofer-moez)
The business model itself is 95 % complete, only minor things are still unclear.
What is the main challenge you face?
It is not that easy to find the right co-founders. Apart from the necessary competencies, co-founders should be interested in gaming (and board games in particular), and in sustainability/education. I’d consider myself as a social entrepreneur who is balancing idealism and pragmatism. Many people are either social or entrepreneur, but few are social entrepreneurs in that sense.
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself.
My hobbies are pretty diverse and include playing chess, singing in choirs, climbing/mountaineering, and dancing Lindy Hop/Swing (20ies dance style).
Tell us a bit about the Berlin Startup Weekend experience and being a winner.
Well, I had the privilege to win twice. Both times, it started difficult. In Enschede/Netherlands, I could not get enough votes after my initial pitch, so according to the agenda I was supposed to work on other people’s project. However, I could convince a whole team around another business idea to follow my idea instead, including the other business idea owner. In the end we won 3rd rank, although we were a very small team and lacked developers and designers. This experience taught me in the nicest possible way, that entrepreneurship is creating opportunities that don’t seem to exist.
Similarly, in Berlin we were a super small three-man-team, lacking any designers. Furthermore, we competed against 19 other teams with 10 team members on average! However, we managed to find two designers to help us online to make some nice designs. Both of them, we hardly knew. They were friends of friends and their contribution was crucial for the prize “The most innovative Business Idea” that we won. Again, the odds were against us. If you don’t try, you won’t win! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZ7xmOPJUY4
Find MoRally on