Roberta Lucca

“Make the best games possible and I’ll make sure millions of people will love them.”

Roberta Lucca’s mother taught her anything was possible. As gaming group Bossa Studios goes from strength to strength, it looks like she might have been right.

HOF Entrepreneurs Roberta Lucca 1920X1080

While it may have once been true that ‘behind every great man, there was a great woman’, today it might be better to say that behind every great woman, there’s a great woman. For Roberta Lucca, this great woman was her mother, who fought her way from PA to director at a major Brazilian bank, all while single-handedly bringing up two children.

“I grew up looking at her as a superwoman, going to work every day. It was like she never saw any obstacles and she taught me that anything was possible.”

Roberta’s interest in entrepreneurship started at university. She was doing a computer science degree, but half-way through, was starting to realise it really wasn’t what she wanted to do and started to explore some of the optional classes offered by the university, including one on entrepreneurship.

“My eyes opened,” she said: “I realised this was what I wanted to do. There were a lot of people building incredible businesses, telling their stories. I started to wonder how much I could change the world by learning how to code - these people were doing things that could generate real impact.”

However, after university, she took a conventional path “my first failure!” she admits. She got a job with Globo TV, one of the largest broadcasters in her native Brazil. Eventually, she managed to carve out an entrepreneurial niche within the broadcaster creating innovative products that reached millions of fans of TV shows like Big Brother. “My bosses tended to give me the crazy projects that needed some creativity to get them done.” She performed a similar role for Nokia, having moved to the UK, managing a large innovation budget.

How it started

By the 2010s, she was starting to ask herself why she was doing the thinking for someone else. At the time she was creating a high-end phone service for Nokia, where handsets retailed at more than £4,000 and came with a concierge service. She says: “I thought ‘what am I doing here? I’m expending all this creativity on people who want a better mobile phone!’”

Two friends happened to be starting a gaming company. She had experience in the entertainment industry and always loved the way games help people feel connected. It felt like a great fit. She became a co-founder and together they started Bossa Studios.

It was obvious from the start who should do what. Roberta says: “I was always going to lead our publishing area - marketing and community. I’d done an MBA in marketing and at Nokia,
I was in a product marketing role. It was in my blood. I said, ‘you guys make the best games possible and I’ll make sure millions of people will love them.’” And that’s what they did.

The early years were lean. They found cheap office space, shared with a circus school. It wasn’t unusual to bump into a freaky clown as they left the building late at night. Shine Group partially acquired Bossa in 2011 and then one of the games – Monstermind - won a BAFTA in 2012. This saw the business accelerate rapidly.

How it’s going

They kept creating more games. Roberta says: “We were like a start-up every year because every year we launch at least one new game. Lots of them failed, of course, some did OK and three or four became really big. That’s how the business model works.” Following the success of Surgeon Simulator, the founders organised a management buyout in 2015 and then secured $10m in Series A funding in 2017. Their Series B funding round followed in 2019.

Roberta says that the pandemic has helped people realise the value of gaming. She adds: “The video games industry is bigger than the film and music industries combined. In 2020, it grew 27% in the US alone. Yet, historically it has been seen as niche. This perception is rapidly changing.”

“The priority for Bossa is to create highly engaging games that players and influencers love playing together.” The group has plenty in the pipeline. This year they have expanded their ‘I Am’ franchise, which now includes ‘I Am Bread’ (about a piece of bread who wants to be toasted) and ‘I Am Fish’ (about a little fish that wants to get back to the ocean).

Lessons learnt

Roberta believes failures happen in slow motion, while success happens in fast forward. “The super successful moments go past in the blink of an eye and then you need to go back to solving all the day-to-day problems.”

She says that she has never learnt as much from success as she has learnt from failure: “That’s your best opportunity to dig deep and do better next time. That said, I don’t dwell on failure – I’m generally very optimistic. I tend to view things as just another obstacle to move around. For me it’s about knowing that life isn’t going to be perfect, but believing you can make incredible things happen.” That’s what a great woman taught her.

 

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