Eight years after leaving Zulily to focus full-time on their gamer social platform, co-founders Yaprak and David DeCarmine are cultivating Seattle-based Game Jolt and raising new funds.
The startup announced a $ 2.6 million seed round last week led by Acequia Capital, with Madrona Venture Group, Graph Ventures and Inventures Collective also investing. Games Beat previously reported the news.
Game Jolt is a platform focused on Generation Z and Generation Alpha gamers where people share and discover things like fan art of favorite video game characters, recordings of themselves playing games or playing with friends, guides and game reviews, and more.
There are now over 40,000 communities on Game Jolt where content is linked to everything from leading titles like “Minecraft” and “Pokémon” to emerging games like “Five Nights at Freddy’s” and “Among Us.” The largest communities have more than 500,000 active members.
“Gaming communities are fragmented across every possible social media platform and storefront you can think of, making it very, very challenging to navigate all the different discovery, community and sponsorship platforms,” said Yaprak DeCarmine, CEO. from Game Jolt, to GeekWire. “We are building the social community platform for gamers and the types of content they love.”
David DeCarmine started Game Jolt under a different platform name when he was just a teenager in New York. He met Yaprak in Zulily during the early days of the e-commerce company.
“It was really cool, there were like 20 of us over a sandwich shop in Pioneer Square,” Yaprak DeCarmine said. “We love working together, and I honestly think that’s because that’s how we met. When Zulily was so little, they actually put us in a room together and said, ‘Build our internal tool that every department within the company needs to use, and also train the whole company in it. ‘So, from the moment we became friends because we work very well together. ”
The two also bonded over video games and left Zulily in 2013 to focus on Game Jolt before marrying in 2014.
“I just couldn’t imagine going through the ups and downs with anyone else,” DeCarmine said. “The feelings of being a founder and building something so crazy, it’s so intimate in a way. And who’s the best person to experience things with something other than the love of your life?”
DeCarmine, an immigrant from Turkey who grew up in Seattle, learned English by playing video games. She said being one of the few founders or CEOs in games is a much better experience now than she was seven years ago when she left Zulily.
“That was the heyday of Gamergate and it was scary. I didn’t want people to know that she was a woman,” DeCarmine said. “But since then I want to be optimistic. I have to acknowledge the fact that I’m seeing a lot more women in the gaming space, which is great.”
In 2020, Game Jolt attracted investments from SoftBank as part of a virtual accelerator program for underrepresented startup founders aimed at fostering diversity in technology and entrepreneurship.
The startup now has Amazon-owned Twitch founders Rec Room, based in Seattle, and Mod.io as investors in its latest round.
“We’re building a unicorn. That’s what we’re looking for,” DeCarmine said of Game Jolt’s desire to match the success of what CEO and co-founder Nick Fajt has built at Rec Room, with its $ 1 billion valuation. “Surrounding myself with these people and then also making them rooted in me, I’m really not used to that.”
Game Jolt is available on the web and mobile apps for iOS and Android, both in open beta. It has 10 employees spread all over the world and plans to use the new funds to hire like crazy.
“We have been fortunate to do most of this work with just five people,” DeCarmine said. “So we are excited to grow.”