Q&A with GaBoom Founder Jess Ratcliffe
Hot on the heels of her well-deserved 30Under30 award, Jess Ratcliffe – founder of video game swap site, GaBoom – tells us all about the site, the concept and life after Dragon’s Den …
So … GaBoom, eh? Tell us about the concept.
Sure! GaBoom is a peer-to-peer video game swapping website. Members simply list the video games that they want and the video games that they have to swap. GaBoom then matches them with the people they can swap with. We currently offer three swapping methods through which members send their games to each other, but we will be tweaking that system when we re-launch the website at the end of the month. We’ve made big improvements to the site so it’s all very exciting!
And the name? Where does “GaBoom” come from?
I wanted to follow the trend of websites such as Google, eBay and Amazon by coming up with a one-word name for the site. It took a while but GaBoom came to me by putting together the first two letters of the word ‘game’ and the word ‘Boom’, to represent the opposite of a recession.
What does GaBoom offer that sites of a similar disposition don’t?
We automatically match members together based on the video games that they want and have. Members don’t have to scroll through endless search results to find their own swap because we find the swaps for them! We also allow members to swap directly with one another so they can determine the fair value of their games. Unlike with Game where you trade-in in store and don’t necessarily receive the fair value of your video games.
Tell us about your time on Dragon’s Den.
It was such a surreal experience but it was fantastic. I was in the Den for approximately 50 minutes and I was so nervous. I had a very positive experience in the Den with Peter Jones offering me a job and Deborah Meaden saying I had “it” whatever “it” is and that she has no doubt I’ll be in one of their chairs one day. I never expected to hear such positive comments. They gave me some great feedback on GaBoom and their advice has helped to mold the direction we take the website in.
Would you do it again?
Yes, I would definitely do it again. It was a great opportunity to get GaBoom out there. The website actually crashed after my pitch aired because we had so many people going to the website! Which was quite embarrassing but it shows there was a big interest.
It will be cool to look back on my time in the Den when I’m an old granny and think “that was me when I was younger!” Haha.
How do you keep the personal information of your site users safe (particularly using the forum feature)?
Sensitive data is encrypted in our secure database. We don’t store any financial information as we use third party payment providers, such as PayPal. The Forum Exchange simply allows members to communicate with one another on GaBoom using our messaging system.
It’s well documented that the industry isn’t keen on pre-owned sales. What would you say in defense?
I completely understand the Publishers’ stance on pre-owned sales. The difference with GaBoom is that we are a video game swapping website. We enable members to swap their video games with each other. We are not going down the same route as Game where they make a margin on the pre-owned video games they take in and sell on. Video games are expensive and not everyone (including myself) can afford the video games they want, so swapping them our fellow gamers allows us to play more while saving money.
How have you arrived at your charge structure?
Our current charge structure takes into account the charges GaBoom incurs to offer the services. The current charge structure will change for the better when we re-launch…which I can give the inside scoop on nearer the time if you like? ;)
Would you share with us what games usually top the swap lists …?
The games at the top at the moment are a mix of FIFA, Call of Duty, Battlefield and Red Dead Redemption. There’s a real mix of games being swapped, which is fantastic. I hope GaBoom will help gamers to get hold of the retro games they want as well as new ones.
… and what games in your personal collection would you never swap?
I don’t think I have a game that I wouldn’t swap. I’m a keen swapper!
And this is mandatory for GGS: If you could choose one person, one song, and one weapon to have with you while you fight against a horde of zombies, who and what would they be?
Good question! I would choose Joe Dale (@joeydale13) as my fellow zombie fighter, “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen as the song and my weapon would probably be the F2000 from COD. It looks heavy but packs a punch!