Startup Grind with Divinia Knowles from Mind Candy (20th May)


Photo via @dscanlon

The month of May is dedicated to the celebration of women at all Startup Grind events around the world and London was no exception, as they hosted Divinia Knowles, CFO of Mind Candy at Google campus.

The interviewer was not Marian this time but Kimberly Hurd, CEO of Zomato UK, who was interviewed about her own experience a few months before. The chat kicked off with how Divinia’s adventure at Mind Candy began. Coming from a completely different background with a diploma in archaeology and extensive experience in antique interior design, Divinia felt that digital was the direction she had to take. When she started at Mind Candy in 2006 as a studio director, Divinia felt inspired and found a mentor in Mind Candy’s CEO, Michael Acton Smith, but felt challenged by the geeky environment of the startup company. She felt she had to prove her value because of her age and had to adapt to a new company culture with software engineers passionate about building Perplex City, a complex puzzle game.

Mind Candy is a startup with digital at its core that aims to disrupt the entertainment industry by making their ‘products lovable and giving a fantastic user experience’. The company’s goal is to ‘build the greatest family entertainment company for the digital generation’. They started by focusing on children when they developed Moshi Monsters before moving towards a broader and more internationalised audience with Warriors. Mind Candy faced challenges finding a new revenue stream and moving to mobile and it now relies mostly on licensing rather than subscriptions. Moshi Monsters bases its success on children who are ‘the best viral marketers’ and very straightforward in their feedback but the company will have to change its strategy for Warriors, whose target audience is broader. They started by localising the product from the very beginning and it will be interesting to see which development strategy they decide to adopt and what the results will be.

The chat ended with questions about female entrepreneurship, Divinia feels lucky to have found many mentors throughout her career and to have created a community of like-minded professionals who face similar challenges. She thinks that women need to ‘put themselves forward’ and ‘be their own champion’. The landscape has evolved in the past few years with more women studying STEM subjects but it seems there is still a long way to go before the cultural shift comes into operation. Women can code and be techy, society just needs to show them that they can take this path if they want to.

The next Startup Grind London will host the President of Slovakia who is a serial entrepreneur and who has faced multiple failures before achieving success. We are eager to see what type of president a former entrepreneur is!


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