Learning from GAEMS

Children playing on games console to play football

As an Advisor, Investor, and Board Member, I get to learn a great deal about a lot of companies, business models, and leaders.  In the course of discovery, I have found that most companies have stories of success, woe, and course corrections and that most leaders have steely determination to show the “market” that their ideas can and will work.   Without a doubt, these stories are the best part of my job and the single greatest source of professional wisdom I have.

One such company is GAEMS; and one pair of leaders I have grown to understand and admire is their co-founder and CEO Dean Mercier and their co-founder and VP of Marketing, John Smith.

GAEMS is, at the surface, a hardware company that makes high-end carrying cases for popular gaming consoles.  I’m not a gamer and as such, am fascinated by the idea that gamers conceive of their gaming experiences (and the associated hardware) as part of the continuum of life and integrate the joys and learnings from gaming into their lives on a daily basis.  Furthermore, I have been impressed a great deal with the prescient insights of Mercier and Smith regarding the importance of portability as regards the community-aspect of gaming.  Put simply, people find meaning in gaming and they carry that meaning with them.

We also find that the usual conception of what a gamer is can be rather misleading.  For instance, females game as much as males.  Middle-aged people are avid gamers, not just young folk.  Gaming is popular in all economic classes and across race.  The usual “demographic” analysis falls short when one conceives of gaming and the “gaming metaphor.”

Once I understood what GAEMS was at the surface, I understood further that 90% of the true value of the company is still invisible.  After all, a combination of high-tech, high-design, portability, and community can be put in the service of so many areas in business.  Getting it right in one context might not guarantee success in another but the trials themselves teach us what to avoid in the future.  No doubt, GAEMS has had some missteps (that I am sure Mercier and Smith would be happy to share if you invited them to speak!) but each of these has made the final products far more durable and the entire business model far more adaptive and assimilative.

GAEMS also taught me to deal with my own biases.  Gaming and hardware are areas I have not had much interest in before; but as I dug into the company and its story I realized that my biases created a previously rigid view that had no basis in reality.  I owe the GAEMS team a ton- for teaching me how to learn and grow.

I’d encourage Research Access readers to check out the company.  I don’t own a single share in the firm- full disclosure.  Do tell me what you think and if you believe there is value under the covers.

Romi Mahajan is a marketer, author, and investor and advises a variety of companies, including promising technology startups.

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About Romi Mahajan

Romi Mahajan is a globally-renowned marketer, IT and strategy thinker, and author.

His career is a storied one, including spending 9 years at Microsoft, being the first CMO of Ascentium, a leading digital agency, and founding the KKM Group, a boutique advisory firm focused on strategy and marketing. Romi has also authored two books on marketing: most recently, "To Thine Own Self: Honesty in Marketing".

A prolific writer and speaker, Mahajan lives in Bellevue, WA, with his wife and two kids.

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