GameTree, a gaming startup that unites gamers with new friends and games to play, has successfully secured $1.7 million in seed funding. Launched by Dana Sydorenko and John Uke in 2019, this American-Ukrainian company is now aiming to create inclusive, non-toxic, and friendship-driven gaming communities on a global scale.
GameTree’s newest round, totaling $1.7 million, has drawn support from esteemed venture capital firms, including Corazon Capital, Full Stack Ventures, Goodwater Capital, 32-Bit Ventures, Expert Dojo, and a grant from Overwolf.
Angels participated too; luminaries such as Sam Yagan, former CEO of Match Group; Phil Schwarz, the marketing visionary behind Tinder’s success; Coddy Johnson, former CEO of Activision-Blizzard; Victor Yushchenko, former President of Ukraine; and Felix LaHaye, CEO of United Esports, Nicolas Stehle, CEO of Scalefast BU, among other notable figures.
“We invested due to our firm’s knowledge coming from the dating industry (Tinder, OkCupid, etc). We see Gametree as a business working similarly but with social matchmaking at its core. Additionally, we view the loneliness epidemic as a major cause of societal issues and believe playing games together is an increasingly popular way to form platonic relationships and build friendships — something Gametree is well-positioned to address,” says Víctor Westerstrand, Senior Associate at Corazón Capital, lead investors about GameTree.
“I knew on our first call with Dana and John that this was going to be one of our top investments. It’s so rare that I find a company where the founders are pure executors of a strategy aligned with a product that solves such a large human problem. It was a very easy decision,” adds Brian Mac Mahon, founder of Expert DOJO.
“We chose to support GameTree because they are utilizing fantastic, well-researched tech to tackle one of the most acute issues in gaming — the ability to connect socially and find companionship, real friendship through play, while also minimizing the toxicity inherent in current social gaming environments,” says Jason Perkins, General Partner of 32-Bit Ventures.
Gaming, the world’s largest entertainment industry by size and revenue, is severely impacted by toxic behavior and exclusionary practices.
A study by Unity found that 7 out of 10 players have experienced some form of toxic behavior, including sexual harassment, hate speech, threats of violence, and doxing. Additionally, nearly half of the players say they at least “sometimes” experience toxic behavior while playing, and around 21% report experiencing it “every time” or “often.”
The problem is even more acute for female players. As much as 88% of online harassment that female gamers have encountered was gender-based, according to research by Reach3.
For GameTree’s founders, this was a first-hand observation, too. A lifelong gamer, GameTree founder Dana Sydorenko has unique experience in business, gaming, and community building. Prior to her ventures in the tech industry, in 2015 she served as a paramedic in the Ukrainian Army and later transitioned her experience to the business sector by creating one of the largest military supply companies in Ukraine. After a highly traumatic war experience, she felt depressed and isolated, and MMO games became her safe space and main activity, but often, instead of a safe and friendly community, she faced toxicity and harassment. Sydorenko stated,
“At GameTree, our vision is to create a gaming community that transcends boundaries, fosters meaningful connections, and puts an end to toxicity. Having witnessed the power of teamwork and camaraderie during my time as a paramedic and CEO, I believe that every gamer deserves a safe and welcoming environment, too.”
Now, GameTree aims to tackle global issues in the gaming community by providing a platform where players can connect in a positive and inclusive environment. Since 2019, the team has built a free LFG (looking for group) app for finding gamer friends, getting personal game recommendations, and coordinating gameplay sessions. It’s available on the web, iOS and Android.
GameTree has amassed a user base of over 600,000 users, all with minimal paid marketing, with its largest user bases in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. The platform has facilitated over 2,000,000 gamer connections over the past three years thanks to its unique competitive advantages:
- AI Psychological Matching: Leveraging a proprietary in-house AI grounded in psychology tests, values, and gamer preferences (comprising over 100 data points), GameTree predicts ideal gaming partners and friends who share values of inclusion and positivity.
- Trust and Curation: Our platform transcends gaming ecosystems and mediums, offering transparent and highly accurate game recommendations. These recommendations consider individual values, psychology, Gamer DNA, games, and demographics, resulting in an impressive 93% accuracy rate.
- Comprehensive Reach: GameTree is the definitive source for all games across all platforms, including tabletop and board games. With support for over 200,000 games spanning PC, Mobile, Switch, Wii, PlayStation, Xbox, and Tabletop, GameTree is the go-to destination for gamers worldwide who seek friendship, camaraderie, and a positive gaming experience.
Yet, its vision extends beyond traditional gaming platforms. Following the funding, the team is developing a full-fledged desktop application featuring overlay game technology, introducing dynamic social feeds, groups, and chat features, and will enable an expansion into B2B partnerships.
Currently, the app monetizes through advertising as well as premium memberships that unlock additional functionalities, aesthetic enhancements, and an ad-free experience for a modest monthly membership fee.
GameTree, launched in 2019, is an innovative gaming platform dedicated to creating inclusive and non-toxic gaming communities. With a user base exceeding 600,000 individuals and a focus on understanding and nurturing gamer friendships, GameTree offers an unparalleled personalized gaming experience. The platform leverages AI psychological matching, trust, curation, and a commitment to fostering a positive gaming environment to connect gamers worldwide.