Donating Without Spending: IFE Welcomes Entrepreneur Nicolò Santin

Failure is not the opposite of success. It’s part of success.  Nicolò Santin (Gamindo CEO)

The JCU Institute for Entrepreneurship welcomed Nicolò Santin, CEO and Co-Founder at Gamindo, for an online talk called ‘Gaming Your Way to Creating Social Value,’ on October 27, 2020. The talk was hosted by Professor Silvia Pulino in the context of her Introduction to Entrepreneurship class. Nicolò Santin earned his undergraduate degree in Economics and his M.A. in International Management (with a thesis on gamification and advergaming) from Ca’ Foscari University in Venice.

The gaming market is valued at 160 billion dollars. Currently, there are over 2.3 billion mobile gamers worldwide, with an average age of 34 years old.

Nicolò Santin

Nicolò Santin

Gamindo is a platform that connects people, brands, and charities through “advergames” (branded games with a promotional aim). The idea behind Gamindo is to “Donate without spending,” and its motto is “Save the world by playing video games.” The way it works is that a company commissions a branded game and allocates part of the budget to be donated to charity. The Gamindo team then converts that money into virtual coins, or “gems,” that users can collect while playing and then donate to charities of their choice. The economic value of the gems is determined based on the budget invested by the company. This system allows companies to increase brand awareness and engagement, to improve their reputation, and to show their commitment to corporate social responsibility.

The idea for this app came from Santin’s undergraduate thesis on fundraising and crowdfunding, in which he analyzed the power of gaming for raising money for charities. Together with his friend Matteo Albrizio, who holds a Masters’s degree in Aerospace Engineering (and later became COO of Gamindo), Santin participated in numerous startup competitions. In 2018, they won first place in important competitions such as Milan Startup Weekend, Startuppato Turin, and the Italian Innovation Award ICT. Santin and Albrizio then developed a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), a prototype of their app that reached 5 thousand users and 20 countries, and they collaborated with 4 brands.

From January to April 2019, Santin and Albrizio participated in the Plug and Play startup acceleration program in Silicon Valley. When they came back, they started developing their app, which changed its name from Ofree to Gamindo. In March 2020, Santin and Albrizio launched their platform, and that same month they were mentioned in Forbes Italy’s 100 Under 30 list, in the Social Entrepreneurs category.

Tips and advice
Santin explained that even though having a good idea is important, it only accounts for 1 percent of the work. The remaining 99 percent is all about the implementation of that idea. Having a good team of people who perform well together is essential for a successful startup. Moreover, Santin believes that one should “fall in love with the problem, not with the solution.” Being passionate about wanting to solve an issue is the main drive to succeed because that’s what motivates people to keep working towards achieving their goals.

Since it’s difficult to predict the revenue of an early-stage startup, it is important to have a good business plan. According to Santin, the business plan is important not so much for attracting investors, but to focus on the startup’s goals, strategies, and time frame to achieve specific objectives. In addition, networking both online and offline is very helpful for aspiring entrepreneurs, as they might meet people interested in joining the team, potential investors, or even simply to get feedback on their idea.

A very important thing to keep in mind when launching a startup is to do it on a global scale. A product might work better in some countries than others, so it’s better to enter the global market, rather than a national one. Santin also stressed the importance of not letting setbacks stop you. “I think that failures are important. They can be opportunities to restart. In the beginning, failures helped me understand that you don’t have to be fixed on your idea. Try it out for a couple of weeks, and if it doesn’t work, modify it, or change your approach,” Santin said.

Professor Pulino gave her closing remarks by saying that Gamindo shifts the power to users in terms of determining where their donations are going, and the gaming part is the hook that attracts people to participate. “A characteristic frequently shared by successful entrepreneurs is humility. Humility comes with an open-mindedness that is essential for success,” said Professor Pulino.