Jacqueline ‘Jax’ Garrett is founder of GGWP Academy, an eLearning and influencer marketplace platform helping gamers turn their audience into a business. She joined Adam Bub on the First Act podcast to share her journey to becoming the ‘Kris Jenner of the gaming world’ and a passionate advocate for women in business.
Jax Garrett puts the game into game-changer. Her son was a Pokémon World Championships competitor at age nine, and her startup, GGWP Academy, helps gamers around the world become full-time creators, connecting them with sponsorship opportunities with major brands and allowing them to monetise their professional gaming careers.
As an avid gamer herself, Jax admits that her competitive streak has been useful in her business journey.
“I’m highly competitive; it’s always been part of my DNA” she reveals. “I love to be able to do things that other people can’t do. I love to be unique and to do things differently; I’m always evolving and growing. I’m what some people might call a bit of a hustler.”
Jax Garrett, GGWP Academy founder
An idea is born
“I founded GGWP Academy because my son had turned pro and was invited to his first Pokémon World Championships when he was nine years old,” Jax explains. “We travelled to the United States for him to compete, where he was signed to a top-tier eSports team. As part of the contract he was asked to start making content, which we did throughout three world championships.
“I started to figure out that my previous experience in marketing, communication and leadership roles was helping my son get ahead, gain followers and liaise with brands for sponsorships. So, I started writing educational content to help other people do the same thing.
“At that time, eSports was having a bit of a global boom and growing at around 38 per cent year on year. However, the industry was highly fragmented, and I could see a lot of opportunity to streamline the processes for the people involved – and that there was a way to scale and grow this idea.
“It was very clear to see that this particular industry was growing at an exceptional rate; it made sense to want to be in the industry and change it for the good,” she says.
“From that, I was accepted to the leAD Sports Startup Accelerator Program in Berlin. The prize was 25,000 Euro at the time and that was the first money into our business. That allowed me to make an exceptional network in Europe of game publishers, brands, investors, eSports players and content creators on the ground. I was able to spend four months there networking in a high capacity, and that has been instrumental to making partnerships happen now to keep growing the business.
“I’m a big advocate for accelerator programs,” says Jax. “I love the mentorship and the learning that comes from being involved in these offers; not only the network that you need to grow, it also offers the training that you need to grow as a person and to evolve in your own business.”
Listen to Jax Garrett on the First Act podcast:
Female representation and equity in gaming
Despite the public perception that the average gamer is a teenage boy, women make up about 47 per cent of Australia’s gamers. However, Jax says we should be cautious about relying on these broad definitions and statistics.
“We need to be careful about the definition of a ‘gamer’,” she says. “There are approximately 3.6 billion gamers globally, but when you talk about female usage in gaming, we’re including mums with tablets who are playing Tetris and Candy Crush. So that is a very loosely held definition of the word gamer.
“Drilling down into that, when you look at eSports, it is more heavily male-dominated at around 70 per cent male. And it’s much higher when it comes to competitive gaming than it is casual gaming.
“With streamers, which is looking more towards the casual side of things – it’s almost 50/50 for female and male. A streamer is someone making content around their gaming, to become an influencer or to create a community around what they’re doing. These are the people that we work with very heavily at GGWP.
“Then you’ve got the fact that less women are in game development; there’s only around 20 per cent of women producing the games. So, there are all of these inequalities across the entire industry that lead to less representation for women. Particularly at a CEO level, there are very few women working at that level within this industry; it’s extremely male-dominated.
“I was trying not to draw attention to the fact that I was a female founder in the beginning,” Jax admits. “But nowadays I lean very heavily towards being a female founder in a male-dominated industry, because I want other women to know that it’s possible. I want it to become more normalised.
“Only around three per cent of global venture capital money goes to women founders, and I would say dramatically less so in the gaming industry. This is something that I’m fighting to change, and every time I’m successful in fundraising for our company, we are changing that stat. We’re moving towards better acceptance and more money given to female founders.
“I think that things are improving slightly; we’re seeing a bit of a shift thanks to a lot of narrative in the media about it. We just need to keep pushing that narrative further so that it represents closer to what we need for equality across the gaming industry overall. That’s something that’s very important to me.”
On being a ‘momager’
With Jax’s experience managing her son’s gaming career and sponsorship and branding opportunities, it seems there are some similarities to another well-known ‘momager’ – Kris Jenner. What does Jax think of this kind of correlation?
“I should be so lucky to have that kind of success,” Jax laughs. “I think that she’s done an incredible job, especially of personal branding.
“Personal branding is one of the major things that everyone is going to need to do in the future of work. It doesn’t matter what your position is – personal branding is definitely of the utmost importance moving forward. That’s something that we teach at GGWP because it’s a highly important skill to have.”
Jax aims to build GGWP Academy into a platform built by gamers for gamers. Her crowdfunding campaign kicks off in August – head to their website to get involved.
Jax shared lots more insight into her business journey as well as the future of the gaming influencer industry in this episode of First Act. Listen to the full ep now.
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