15. Play Consulting

The tech design studio building mobile app games to improve the way employees work

Founder: Marcus Thornley
Founded: March 2014
Website: www.play-consult.co.uk

Have you ever looked up from your phone to find you’ve spent the last two hours aligning virtual pieces of candy? Or maybe you’ve woken up in the middle of the night to mine pretend gold in a digital village?

Recognising the power that games have to make people do such things, former Electronic Arts executive Marcus Thornley founded Play Consulting with a goal of creating ‘gamified’ digital products which would encourage good decisions and positive behaviours.

In partnership with Bupa, Play launched its first product Boost – an app for businesses on which employees can set and complete wellness activities to foster beneficial habits – in January 2015. It later won the LaingBuisson Innovation in Tech Award for 2016.

In light of Boost’s success, Thornley realised Play – a finalist at the 2016 Startups Awards – had great scope to “seed start-up culture into big businesses, change how corporates think about their employees and how they execute it”. So in May 2016 Play launched Totem, its own employee engagement platform for businesses.

Totem has attracted a number of high profile clients including Bupa Care Homes, Pizza Hut, PwC and Leeds Building Society and has a Seal of Excellence from the European Commission.

Having scaled from a team of two to a team of 22, Play Consulting is already profitable despite starting with a mere £25 with no external investment raised.

Play Consulting has lofty ambitions to create games that drive “team autonomy, business success and individual happiness” across organisations. With a huge potential market and new rollouts on the horizon, Play is in prime position to achieve this. As Thornley assures us; “this is only the beginning”.

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