Kindness really can win, even in the competitive world of startups and investment.
Lumi Interactive co founders Lauren Clinnick and Christina Chen have just proven this idea, announcing a record for a female-founded gaming startup in Australia, by securing seed round funding of US$6.75 million for their studio, Lumi Interactive.
They’re working on a free mobile game called Kinder World, which gives players the opportunity to take care of unique virtual houseplants — as they take care of themselves in the real world.
The investment is a huge win, not only because women-founded businesses receive just a tiny fraction of the investment of their male counterparts, but also because of the style of game that Kinder World is: one that is built off the idea of compassion, community and supporting others as you look after yourself.
They’ve been described by investors as creating a “much-needed category of their own” amongst gaming apps, enabling something that supports mental health breaks and encourages users to slow down.
Despite still being a startup, Lumi also have a fulltime wellbeing researcher on staff, in Dr Hannah C Gunderman PhD. It’s a position that highlights the ultimate focus of the game and intentions of the business, including the responsibility it feels for users.
The Kinder World game, which despite being in early-stage mode has already received huge support on TikTok, leverages a concept they’ve identified as “crowdhealing”, which is informed and backed by Dr Gunderman’s work.
By performing simple acts of mindful kindness — like daily gratitude — and then sharing this “kindfulness” with other players, Gunderman’s research finds users can help improve their individual well-being, as well as the well-being of the entire player community.
Clinnick says the team developed the idea in the face of the past few years which have generally been “anything but kind” but have provided opportunities for individuals to display small acts of kindness.
“Even in the depths of Melbourne’s lockdowns, my small team saw how everyday acts of compassion, to ourselves and others, could make the world seem like a kinder place,” she said.
Through social media, the early-stage development of Kinder World has been informed by the community, which Clinnick says is largely made up of women and non-binary folks.
Lumi says the investment will be used to grow the development team and scale Kinder World for a large global launch. The app is already available across Alpha, Android and iOS, with the full launch expected in late 2022.
The oversubscribed seed round was led by a16z, and includes investments from 1Up Ventures, Galileo Ventures, Heracles Capital and Double Loop Games co founder and CEO, Emily Greer.
And because flexibility also wins, especially in the competitive gaming sector, Kinder World are proudly also promoting a number of remote-friendly roles.