Starting a business in the middle of a pandemic is a scary proposition, but PreShow founder and CEO Stacy Spikes was completely unfazed.
“Where others may have seen problems, I saw opportunities,” he told AfroTech. “I’m not going to lie and say it was easy — but I will certainly say that I knew that what I had was an idea whose time had come. But, I will also say that I had to pivot, slightly, from my original plan for PreShow.”
Getting his start as a film marketing executive and producer, Spikes first made headlines when he became the co-founder and CEO of MoviePass. In theory, MoviePass’s idea was a simple, and welcome, one: pay a monthly subscription fee, see as many movies in the theaters as you’d like. In 2012, MoviePass upped the ante by activating proprietary location-based payment technology, which allowed users to pay for their tickets in a safe and secure way — another idea that was, in fact, before its time.
So it’s no surprise that PreShow, too, has the same visionary approach to entertainment. “Originally, the idea was to make it movie-based,” he said. “But the pandemic threw a wrench into those plans.”
The “plans,” of course, meant that PreShow couldn’t take its ideas to movie theaters — because they were all closed. So, from focusing on films, PreShow pivoted its focus to gaming.
And the pivot paid off: PreShow Interactive recently closed $3 million in a seed funding round led by Harlem Capital. Additional participants include leading venture capital (VC) firms and angel investors Canaan Partners, Wavemaker Ventures, Front Row Fund, ROC Fund, BK Fulton, and Monroe Harris.
Currently in beta, the PreShow Interactive mobile app uses patented proprietary technology to allow users the ability to use their time and attention to unlock in-game currency for free without interrupting the playing experience. Launching this summer, gamers will be able to convert their time into currency which can be applied to more than 20,000 of today’s most popular games, across consoles, Central Processing Units and virtual reality.
For Spikes, though, the business pivot wasn’t about making money. Rather, it was about making people happy.
“It’s why I got into the entertainment industry in the first place,” he said. “We’re there because we sell dreams, right? But why should we just stop there? Why not sell them reality — virtual and otherwise? And reward them for doing what they love — in this case, playing games? I can’t imagine having a better job, no matter what challenges may come my way. I’m ready for it all.”
Editorial note: Portions of this interview have been edited and condensed for clarity.