▶️ Watch this episode on YouTube
How do companies like UiPath, KPMG, and Deutsche Telekom onboard new employees?
Through gamification. Chambr is a digital platform used in 22 countries for community building, team bonding, and learning sales and leadership skills. But the road to launching Chambr could have ended when companies canceled their contracts due to the pandemic. Forced to pivot and go digital, in this chat Gabriela shares the highs and lows of her entrepreneurial journey. And of course, we laugh A LOT of laughs in the process.
0:55 – 25k in cash or dinner with Rene Brown
2:00 – a brilliant prank you did?
2:58 – something that really annoys you?
3:35 – an unusual way you have either earned or saved money?
4:22 – how did you get started in creating games for HR departments?
7:05 – how did you get your first in the door with Deutsch Telecom and UiPath?
8:57 – how did you guys pivot when Covid happened?
10:10 – what is a game like for a new hire at KPMG?
12:00 – is Chambr global?
12:48 – what are you responsible for at Chambr?
13:27 – are you bootstrapped?
14:35 – if I were to give you $10k to enhance your business, what would you do?
15:10 – what tool are you using that you are excited about?
16:20 – what are you reading now that has blown your mind? – Superbetter by Jane M.
17:04 – what is one habit that you have cultivated that has served you well?
20:35 - what was the highest stakes negotiation you have ever been in?
📬 Subscribe to the ICL newsletter
Tune in to every conversation about exciting European Startups and Innovators on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Amazon! Leave a rating and review so we can keep making amazing interviews!
Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for Innovators Can Laugh in your favorite podcast player.
Connect with Eric:
Visit his website: https://innovatorscanlaugh.com
For the Innovators Can Laugh newsletter in your inbox every week, subscribe at https://innovatorscanlaugh.substack.com
Past guests on Innovators Can Laugh include Yannik Veys, Ovi Negrean, Arnaud Belinga, Csaba Zajdó, Dagobert Renouf, Andrei Zinkevich, Viktorija Cijunskyte, Lukas Kaminskis, Pija Indriunaite, Monika Paule, PhD, Vytautas Zabulis, Leon van der Laan, Ieva Vaitkevičiūtė.
Additional episodes you might enjoy:
#55 Yannik Veys - From creating the Uber for service professionals to growing Hypefury
#53 Tzvete Doncheva - Overcoming barriers to get into a VC with Tzvete Doncheva
Imagine playing a board game that depicts the culture and values of the company you work for, or playing a game that coaches, managers on how to deal with the unknown sound science fiction. Well, it's not. My guest today is Romanian entrepreneur. Gabriela Constant co-founder of Chambr and her startup brings gamified-based learning into business training and education, and it makes it fun.
Gabriela, welcome to Innovators. Can. Yeah. Thank you so much, Eric. I'm super honored and excited by your invitation. Yeah, no, I'm excited. I love games. First question for you, $25,000 in cash or a dinner with Brene Brown, which one would you rather have here? Definitely a dinner with Brene Brown, . Okay. Okay.
Next question. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be? I'd love to travel through. Back in time. Oh wow. How far back ? As far as, I don't know. Middle Ages at least. Okay. Okay. What's an unusual food or drink that you like? Fried pickles, . Where do you get fried pickles?
Here in Pest? You know what there's, I, I'm betting there's a lot of places actually, right. There's a place called Pickles come on where they sell fried pickles and lots of other really, really good stuff. Okay? I don't think the expats know about this place, . I doubt you're ever gonna go in there and see like a Texan or anybody from the states eating fried pickles, but who knows?
Okay. What is a brilliant. That you ever received or you gave a brilliant print prank? Yeah, so I was in high school and yeah, I went to my best friend with a bunch of other colleagues of ours really, really early in the morning while she was still asleep. It was her birthday and we had, like, we were, we had really weird costumes that we were wearing and yeah, so.
Scared her. Wo woke her up and then had her go from one house to another. Searching from for her present while her present had always been in her own house when she left the house in the morning. You guys are good friends, huh? ? Yeah. Yeah. . Okay. Okay. What is a word that rhymes with kiss, date or heart? Kiss, date or heart And like With all of them or with, with just of one of those.
Yeah. Kiss heart date, or. Date mate? . Mate. . Okay. That's good. Okay. What's something that really annoys you? Gabriela? Something that really annoys me. Well, so I live next to a hotel in the city center and they did serious renovations, you know, and yeah, so they would just throw stuff on a huge tube that would sound like it was the end of the world next to my window.
That really annoys me. Yes, . Oh man. I can't imagine what that sounds like. I bet it'd be hard to like concentrate on something and you just hear like this rubbish going down this big tube. Yeah. . Okay. Yeah, that, that's very accurate. Okay. All right. Last question for you here. What is an unusual way you either earned money or saved money?
An unusual way. Yeah. You either saved money Yeah. Or made money. Or made money. Like now or in the past or in whenever? In the past or, or present The past or so. I don't know if that's weird, but I invest through my boyfriend's editorial account, , so I don't own one, but. . Yeah. I give him the money and he of course, with my, yeah.
Consent and yeah, awareness invests my money in the stock market. Okay. I have an eToro account, but I haven't looked at it in probably three months. I just don't wanna get depressed, you know, . Yeah, I know, I know. Okay. How did you get started in creating games for HR departments? Gabriela? Yeah, so the story begins in, yeah, 2013 actually, because that's when I joined the alternative university in Bucharest.
It was a university founded by students that had the student at IT center, and it was based on self-directed learning. You were encouraged to create your own learning path. You were setting learning goals. You had like a counselor. Would guide you through the process of learning how to learn, learning, what are the learning methods that fit you best?
And at some point, of course the experience was super gamified. We were like part of houses like in Harry Potter, and there was this blend, always this blend of learning and playing. And two of the alternative university's values work, learning, and. and so I met my co-founder in 2015. He was also a student there and we both had designed playing and learning days during the turn university camp and we found each other like being super passionate about these two values and goods.
So yeah, some point we naturally started to to, to create learning games for the corporate. Okay. Did you play design any games though for students while you were still in the university? We designed like gamified experiences, not really games. Okay. So, yeah. Yeah. We should talk for when I do the next meetup in Bucharest.
Cause I have an idea for gamifying the next meetup. And I think you'll like it. Yeah, I think you would like it. Yeah, of course. Of course. Okay. So I heard something, I read something interesting that in March, 2020 you guys had this business started and all of a sudden all your contracts get canceled and you either had to reinvent or basically the company was gonna go under, right?
Yeah, yeah. True story. So at first we were creating board games that were physical, so people would meet at the office and play them, you know, Uhhuh , and yeah. When 2020 hit, no one. Go to the office anymore. So , it was basically impossible for us to continue doing what we were doing. Yeah. And at first, during the first few months, we tried several other business models.
We tried to go B2C and create like a card game that would teach people how to become zero waste and just sell it. Yeah. To customers. We tried creating a design thinking game and yeah, we tried many things searching for that idea that would help us, you know, stay alive. And in October, 2020, the first idea of chamber came up to us.
And yeah, since then we've been working on this and gladly, we're still alive, you know? Okay. Now on your website, there's a few games in there that really caught my attention. One was actually a game about UI path and it was a board game that depicts the culture and values of UI Pat and people, I guess coworkers can learn about the, about this by playing the game.
And there was also a game with. Telecom here in Romania. So the first question I wanna ask you, what did you know, how did you come up with these games? But first, how did you get your foot in the door for these clients, for these companies? Yeah. So with Telecom, think they approached us, if I'm not mistaken, I'm not super sure cuz it was way, way back.
So I may, I may be, yeah. Saying unreal stuff here. I, I'm not doing that on purpose, but I remember them approaching us because they heard we were, yeah. Gamifying processes and they needed the training. So, and with UiPath, they also reached out because they knew we were doing board games and they wanted a board game that would depict there.
But at first, so yeah, it was a lot of, you know, a lot of just doing it. We, that first board game of ours that you mentioned with poor manager that would, you know, help them become familiar with the unknown and comfortable and so on. That was a board game that we created out of Steven Desouza's book. So he came to us as well and he wanted his book turned into a board game, so it was a matter of just building up a portfolio and yeah, just.
Being known for this particular skill that, you know not many people are doing here in Romania. How are they finding you? Is it through seo? Are they people, are they just using Google when they found you guys? They, so with UiPath, many people from the alternative university were working at U UiPath, so it was like a straightforward pathway.
I'm not sure about digital telecom though. I'm not sure how they, how they reached out to us. Okay. No. And with Steven, yeah. Saw on social media and he also found out somehow about us. Okay. But not nothing. SEO or, yeah. Okay. Paid marketing related. And how did you guys pivot? So when the contracts got canceled, people are no longer, no, no longer going in person, you know, to the offices.
Mm-hmm. What did you guys do? We froze for about a month. Like we literally didn't know what to do. Then we started like analyzing, okay, so this is our skillset, set this. , like the area of product and things we can do. So now what? So, okay, we've. Doing business, b2b. Let's see, what are some B2C options we have here?
But at some point we were, okay, so if we're gonna pivot, let's pivot, let's go digital, let's become scalable. Let's become a tech startup. So if we're gonna change, let's change, you know, in a super big way. So, and chamber change from another previous project was inspired by a previous project for KPMG's onboarding process.
And we like adapted some game mechanics we used there for the digital space. . Yeah, we did like this first while frame. We interviewed 200 learning and development managers and tested it with them. Then we created like a user experience and tested it with another 100 learning and development professionals.
So it was, you know, a lot of iterations and integrating feedback and, yeah. Okay. What, what did this game look like if you were onboarding with K P M G and you were experiencing this game? So how did that look for a new, a new employee? So the board game or chamber, For an onboarding experience. Well, you said it was based off chamber, was based off a project for K P M G.
It was inspired by a project. Yes, yes. Yeah, yeah. So what, what is, what was that experience like for like a new employee for K P M G? Yeah, so it was super important for them, for new hires to get to know the values of the company. And they also had some capabilities, some attitudes that were super important for new people to invent.
So we had these. And like a wheel with the values and the attitudes. And you'd draw a die and you'd have to answer a challenge from the card from the perspective of that value and integrated it in how you respond. And the cards were like with challenges on various levels of difficulty from new entries to managers.
And we would mix these groups so that people could, you know, share best practices and learn from each other no matter their seniority. And yeah, even like blend culturally, even. . Okay. The games that you have developed right now for chamber, uh mm-hmm. , are they mostly tied around hr? Are there other aspects or there other kinds of games?
Yeah, so basically our use case, our, our use cases are quite, you know, like multiple use cases from Yeah. Community building. We get to know each other, team bonding to learning, and especially soft skilled. We are. Chamber, especially for soft skills from, I don't know, sales skills to leadership, to whatever, whatever soft skill need to employees need to develop.
Okay. Okay. Now, being digital, are you starting to get clients from globally, you know, outside of Romania? Yeah, so Chamber is currently being used in 22 countries and yeah, in Romania we only have two or three, I think. Okay. And what's the top selling, I guess, game? Mm-hmm. , if that's, if that's what we call it here.
For most of these clients here, what are they mostly coming to you guys for? So the thing is that we have this framework that's a gamified framework, but the contents they can customize completely. So we do give them like a values game that has like use cases from real work life situations that might occur in how we apply some values or some, yeah, principles.
Installing those use cases. We have like a get to know each other game inside the platform for both to bond and get to know each other better. But the beauty is that our clients create a lot of content on the platform. So they create their own games and I'm sure what they create is far more popular and nice than what we do because they're super creative and really, you know, make it their own.
Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Now, what are you responsible for Ed Chamber, because you said mm-hmm. is, is it you and your co-founder and how many employees are there? Or is it just you guys? Right now it's us and our c t o and yeah, so I'm , you know, in, in a startup you do so many things, you have to, you know, switch through so many roles, but I'm the c and yeah, mainly I keep the operations, I create frameworks and processes for us to work better.
I, I'm also with the u y Experie. And product design a lot. These are like my favorite areas, but of course I also do sales. I also do call out reach and all, all the uncomfortable stuff that you need to give you a founder. Okay. Are, are you guys entirely bootstrapped or have you had any sort of investment?
We are entirely bootstrapped and we are looking to raise our first round. Okay. Okay. What advice would you give to inspiring entrepreneurs who have yet made the plunge into entrepreneurship? Gabriela . Well, it's a rollercoaster, right? Yes. And it comes with super high highs and super low lows, but I don't know.
For me, it's. An amazing growth experience as a person, as a human being. Every day I'm being challenged. Every day I'm learning something new. Every day I'm becoming, I'm becoming like a better version of myself, so I would just. Advise them to trust the process and give it all, you know to it cause it's worth it.
I mean, I, I've, when I look back, you know, cuz it's December almost so time to reflect on the year that has passed. When I look at, I don't know, May, 2022, like, wow, okay, look at where I was, look at where I'm now. It's an accelerated growth, an accelerated learning. Yeah. I love that. I love that. If I were to give you $10,000 to help you grow chamber, what would you do with that money?
Hmm. Yeah, that's, that's actually a great question. I would, so we have like a huge pipeline of suggestions and feedback from our customers that we need to implement, and we also have like two ideas for two new games that we want to add on the platform. So I would most likely start with the product development and design.
So how, how much. 10,000 U s D, 10,000 s d. That's all I can do. Yeah. like stock to our C P O and and yeah, add some, some new features and maybe a new gate. Okay. That's all I can do. What is a tool or app that you're using that's bringing you a lot of value Notion. Notion is amazing. Yes. For us as a team to like keep all the info together, to organize our tasks, to organize our business.
Actually it's, it's super useful and I am a big fan. Okay. Are there any other channels or interesting opportunities that you're seeing right now and you're interested in exploring in terms of like marketing or sales? What's super interesting is that my co-founder is in New York. He's been there since last Friday, and he has his calendar booked with networking events and copies with people until the 21st of December.
So, yeah, I'm not sure. I'm, I'm not really answering the question, but. This is something super new and exciting for us, and I'm like super curious. Every day I wanna see it, so, okay. How did that go? I'm super, you know, pumped. I have this dopamine release from our conversation. I'm like, yeah. Wow, that's amazing.
You know, it's like when you. world and it's exciting. Yeah. Who's he mostly meeting with? I mean people from HR departments and different companies or just a wide variety of, of people. So investors, startup founders, and Yeah. People from learning and develop. Okay. So there's a lot of books over there behind you.
What are you reading lately that has blown your mind? Mm-hmm. or changed your perspective on something so super better by Jane Mego. I'm a big fan of hers now. She's an amazing game designer, an amazing researcher. I love this blend of, you know, research and yeah, what's evident based, what science says, and also like chain mechanics and ways to make experiences more engaging.
And this is a gamified book. It gives you challenges. You have to like, I dunno, stand up and look at the window or snap your fingers or do stuff, you know, while you're reading it. And it's super engaging. I, I love it. I never thought a book. So, so engaging, you know? Yeah. And yeah, I'm, I'm super excited about it,
Okay. Other question here, what is one habit that you've had to basically cultivate and it's really worked out for you, and you would not be where you are today without doing this one habit or this one thing in this one thing? Yeah. A major thing for me has been like, Making decisions faster cuz I used to spend a lot of time, a lot of energy, a lot of brain power on making really, you know, small decisions.
And at some point this is, this is my wife and at some, sorry, feel her need, I need you to talk to her. Lily, whatever you did, you need to like talk to her and, and say, look. This is actually, you know, what really helped me was becoming a tech startup because you have to make decisions so fast without getting attached to a perfect outcome or, you know, without overanalyzing things.
Yeah. And it oftentimes, it's better to just make that decision and go for it and never look back. Yeah. Than to, you know, spend a lot of time in making whatever thing look perfect. And so on. So I, I really, I went last night, I went to the cinema with a friend and he was asking questions like, so where should we go?
Should we stay there? I was like, just sit down, you know, drinking too much. Brain power, . Yes. Just sit down. It's okay. Yes, I am with you. So again, that I'm with you a hundred percent. I mean, there's a lot of people who spend so much time on trying, like you said, trying to make a decision. on something that's really meaningless, but they think there's a right answer.
And the truth is there is no right answer. Yeah, if it's the wrong decision, the quicker you make the wrong decision, the faster you can, you know, pivot and go do something else. But there is no right answer. Not they feel like, a lot of people feel like, oh, wait a minute, I need to think about it more. I need to ask more people so I can get the right answer.
And truth be told is, It's just, you know, it's up and down, you know, up, up and down. I mean, decisions like that, they really irritate me because, like you said, you only have so much brain power, and I hate it when somebody asks me a decision and it's something that they're perfectly capable of making on their own, but they're taking up Just the mere fact of asking me it, it takes up a little bit of my brain power and it's kind of irritating and annoying in many.
You know, so I, I agree with you 100% on there. We have that in common, . Okay. I feel like people get closer to, like, their friendship grows stronger when they have something that in common that annoys them, you know? Yeah. That, that should be, that should be a question for like somebody who's dating. Hey, what's the one thing that annoys you?
Or like three things. And let's see if we have that in common, because I, I feel that's a lot better than like, Hey, you know, do we have the same movies or, you know, music or whatever. I, I, I think so. Okay. Yeah, that's actually a really interesting thing you're mentioning and it's something super effective even in like game design.
Cuz when you, when you gather people to fight against the co common villain, they're like, you know, super bonded and Yeah. Even in history, if you look, you know, if you. Countries have collaborated a lot better when they had like this common evil to fight a common enemy. Exactly. Yeah. Common enemy. So it's like, yeah,
Yeah. They're bringing us together. You know what? Yeah. I think we're onto something here. You know, . Yeah. I think we're, we could be like consultants for a dating or something like this, you know? . Yeah. Yeah. All right. Okay, last question for you. Let's see here. What was the highest stakes negotiation you've ever been in?
Gabriela? Highest stakes negotiation. The highest stakes negotiation. Yeah. It was a 25 k contract and it went, you know incredibly smooth. I was expecting a lot of discomfort and I don't know. Me feeling challenged in a way. Yeah. It was not, I guess it's also, you know, the experience behind that has helped me navigate through this easier.
But yeah, I'm, I'm, we're super willing to like raise my, you know, limits and challenge them further. Cause yeah. I'm gonna hack in this. Startup . Yeah. Okay, fantastic. Gabriela, thank you so much for being on the show. Everybody listening. This is Gabriela Constant School From Chamber. I will put links to chamber and the the website notes.
And uh, hey, if you enjoyed this, tell others about it. That's how you help us grow. You can also catch us on TikTok and you can sign up for the ICO newsletter on innovators Can laugh.com. Gabriela, until we meet again in person, this was a. Yeah, same here. Eric, thank you so much for inviting me. It's been great.
My pleasure. Okay, LA bye,
Thanks for listening to the show. If you enjoyed it, I'd really appreciate it if you could give us a review in star rating. Also, don't forget to sign up for the I ICO firstname.lastname@example.org where you can get the bio in details of each guest. Thanks.
Here are some great episodes to start with. Or, check out episodes by topic.