Ep. #1182 - Disrupting Male-Dominated Fields
In today’s episode of Startup Hustle, Lauren Conaway and Brooke Fiumara, Co-founder & Co-CEO of OPTX, talk about disrupting male-dominated fields. Brooke shares how OPTX came to be. Lauren and Brooke also discuss the startup environment in Las Vegas and how to bridge the gender gap in any industry. They also explore Global Gaming for Women and how to be an ally for women in your workplaces.
In other exciting news, Brooke’s company was among Startup Hustle’s top Las Vegas startups recognized in 2023. Check out all the organizations that made it on the list. Discover the emerging growth companies coming out of Sin City!
Covered In This Episode
The gambling industry is traditionally a man’s world. Brooke Fiumara of OPTX explains how disrupting male-dominated fields is a good thing.
Lauren and Brooke start off with Brooke’s entrepreneurial journey, explaining her intimate knowledge of the gambling industry. They discuss entrepreneurship in Las Vegas and how gambling goes beyond entertainment. Brooke shares the importance of making data accessible and how OPTX came to be. The conversation segues to the gender gap and changes in the gaming industry, Global Gaming Women, and more.
Take a chance at disrupting your industry. Listen to the conversation in this Startup Hustle episode now.
- Brooke’s entrepreneurial journey (1:42)
- Las Vegas: a step beyond entertainment (2:54)
- Entrepreneurship in Las Vegas (4:32)
- OPTX (6:53)
- OPTX optimization (10:43)
- How Brooke came into the industry (13:54)
- The importance of making data accessible (15:55)
- How OPTX’s UI and UX came to be (20:56)
- The gender gap in the gaming industry (23:51)
- Global Gaming Women (28:17)
- The changes in the gaming industry culture (29:07)
- Bridging the gender gap in male-dominated fields (30:13)
- The future of OPTX (36:09)
- What would Brooke buy with a billion dollars? (38:02)
What I discovered through my tenure as an operator was that all of the tools on the market were designed and developed by really smart engineers, right? The problem is that those products were very tech-forward and not operationally friendly. So, I always say you can have the most innovative, cool technology. But if it’s hard to use and the actual end user does it, it doesn’t matter.– Brooke Fiumara
I know so many folks, who are experts at what they do, and they are passionate about the products and services that they sell. But you show us lines and lines of data, it makes your heart skip a beat because it’s too much. So often, a lot of the power lies in making this information accessible. That’s the real key because information, data, like all of the research, all of this stuff is only helpful if you are able to put it to executable, positive, fluid, forward use.– Lauren Conaway
I found that women [are] holding themselves back. They feel like, oh, because I don’t have 100% of the skills, I shouldn’t apply. What? I got 30%, I’ll apply. This is a perfect fit. I think it comes down to confidence and just knowing there is nothing that’s in a role that you can’t learn or accomplish or achieve. And I just don’t think that a lot of women are just taught that early.– Brooke Fiumara
It’s recognizing that you have the opportunity to be an ally. And what that means is giving a comfortable space for females in the room to have their opinions heard. You know, a lot of times, females are going to be more naturally quiet. Of course, not all the time. But I think that being an ally means calling on them. Give them the opportunity to shine.– Brooke Fiumara
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Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Lauren Conaway 00:01
And we’re back. Thank you for joining us for yet another episode of the Startup Hustle podcast. I’m your host Lauren Conaway, founder and CEO of InnovateHer KC, and friends, I got to tell you today’s episode is sponsored by Full Scale, and we love Full Scale around here. Hiring software developers is difficult, but Full Scale can help you build a software team quickly and affordably. And they have the platform to help you manage that team. Visit FullScale.io to learn more. You can also, I suspect, you can also check the show notes if you just want to clicky clicky a link but definitely check out Full Scale. So today, friends we have with us I’m always excited when I talk to folks who end up on one of our top startups lists. Those are some of my favorite episodes to record with Matt DeCoursey. And we talk we visit cities across the country. So someday the world. But we visit these startups, we talk to these founders and we learn about a city. Well, today we’re going to be talking to one of our Top Startups of Las Vegas winners, really, really excited to talk to Brooke Fiumara. Co-Founder and Co-CEO of OPTX. Brooke, thank you so much for joining us today.
Brooke Fiumara 01:10
Thank you, Lauren, for having me. I’m super excited to be here. I’m a new, a new podcast listener just in general. And so it’s really it’s really cool to be on this side of it and not in my car listening on the way to work.
Lauren Conaway 01:26
So yeah, I know you’re gonna have new insight as you go forth into the world and listen to new podcasts because the other side yeah, for sure. Well, I’m really excited to crack into it. And so I’m just, I’m just going to ask you, hey, Brooke, tell us about your journey.
Brooke Fiumara 01:41
Sure. Um, so my name is Brooke Femara, one of the co-founders and Co-CEOs of OPTX. We are a Las Vegas-based startup. However, I’ve got team members all over the world. So, we started the company about four years ago and has since grown to over 60 employees. So, it has been quite a journey. For me, I was born in Texas. My parents moved to Vegas for opportunity. And and that’s where I grew up. I went to high school in Vegas, I stayed in Vegas for college at UNLV. Studied marketing and went into the casino industry, which you know, living in Vegas, was
Lauren Conaway 02:24
I feel like that’s not a super big start. Like that’s not a surprise.
Brooke Fiumara 02:30
When I, you know, I never pictured myself growing up and kind of moving into gaming, but being in Vegas and getting that degree, it there’s there’s tons of opportunity. Yeah. And so yes, started line level, basically entry level management job coordinator job. From there, I’ve worked my way up through, like, the local casino market station casinos. For those of you that have been to Vegas, have you been to Vegas?
Lauren Conaway 02:54
I have not, it’s on my short list. I just haven’t I haven’t. And I, here’s the thing. I’m not a desert person, like I. So that’s a part of it as well. I’m not a huge gambler. I’m one of those people like I’ll take 20 bucks to the casino maybe once every five years and, like, call it a day. But I have heard about the spectacle of Vegas. And I’ve heard that it’s one of those things that you need to experience. Is that what you find that, like, it’s just a step beyond entertainment. Talk to us a little bit about that.
Brooke Fiumara 03:27
Definitely. Like I think there is I truly think there’s something for everyone. So, you know, I’m not really a gambler, you know, that’s not really my scene. Yeah, don’t stay on the strip, right? Like I worked. I spent my entire career in the local side of things. And there are some beautiful resorts that don’t even touch the strip, you want great spas, great restaurants, great entertainment. It truly is just a special place to visit. And for me a special place to live like I really wouldn’t live anywhere else.
Lauren Conaway 03:57
Yeah. Well, it’s one of those things that was. So, now that I know you Brooke, like, someday I’m going to just email you and be like, Hey, girl, hey, coming to Vegas. Where do I need to go? And can we coffee into that? Definitely. Because I feel like I need a Vegas shepherd like someone who can help me maximize the experience. Right? Yeah, I’ve heard it is just, it’s incredible. It’s phenomenal. You know, so so hard plug Las Vegas, Nevada. I am really interested to hear about the the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Las Vegas. Can you talk to us a little bit about your experiences there?
Brooke Fiumara 04:32
Yeah, it’s it’s been really interesting to be part of the startup community in Vegas. I think that we continue to make waves and and make a presence in Vegas. I don’t think people think of Las Vegas as a tech kind of hub. And I think today,
Lauren Conaway 04:53
When you think of the gaming industry alone, that is an immense amount of technology related to that, right?
Brooke Fiumara 05:00
That’s right. There’s tons of technology obviously being utilized throughout the city in the various industries that our city thrives upon. But the actual, like, startups of non legacy businesses that are that are used in these casinos, or just in in, in any security, I think of I think of a lot of our real estate kind of startups in Vegas. It’s it. It’s not considered a hub. But I think it’s I think we’re growing and our community is growing. And it’s a great place to start a business, you’ve got low cost of rent for office spaces, there’s so many different areas within the city to expand. You’ve got great talent pools, our universities continue to get better. We’ve got tons of people looking at Las Vegas as alternatives to the higher cost cities like San Francisco and LA, which you know, have tons of talent. And so it really is a special place to start a company.
Lauren Conaway 05:54
Yeah, well, and I think, you know, like I said, I really love recording top startups episodes. And I remember Matt and I like we were kind of going through the setlist and talking about the different companies and things like that. And one of the things that I noticed around Las Vegas, and I don’t think this was so much of a surprise, it was it was just something that was kind of glaringly obvious. But there’s a lot of development, there’s a lot of research and design being done around the gaming industry in Vegas. And when it you know, when we go to tap startups, we always try to find the through line, you know, when we went to Seattle, Seattle, that was a lot of deep tech. You know, here in the Midwest, we have a focus on AgTech and animal health and like, each city, or each geography that we focus on, kind of has its own flavor. And so talk to us a little bit about how well first off, talk to us about OPTX. But can you talk to us about how optics grew within this Las Vegas kind of gaming tech environment?
Brooke Fiumara 06:53
Yeah, I think you said it exactly. Right. Right, we in Vegas, naturally just have an industry that that our city thrives upon, which is gaming. And the amount of data that that our casino operations are collecting is immense. And it only continues to grow and the importance of and we see this in every you know, every industry that kind of revolves around data, we see the same emphasis that can be applied, whether it’s, you know, medical, or hospitality, or gaming, the immense amount of data that we have, and the need to distill that down to like specific action for the team members, the humans that are interacting with that data and making decisions on the data just continues to grow. And that’s where OPTX comes in specific to the gaming industry. So our product was designed to ingest and distill large amounts of data sets throughout a casinos ecosystem. So you can think of a casino or at least I think of a casino as like, honestly, 10 businesses-in-one and it’s one of the things that I think is most fascinating part about working in a casino is that you really get exposed to running restaurants, right? That, in and of itself is its own industry, with its own ecosystem of data and its own, you know, legacy systems. Yeah. And then you move into hotel management and running a hotel. And then you’ve got the slot floor and gaming. And just you could think of it like if you wanted to relate it to another industry and arcade, right? Yeah, lifting money from people, you’re watching what games that they play in, you’re trying to put the right games on the floor for them.
Lauren Conaway 08:32
But then you also have the added layer of security all throughout, because like massive amounts of money are running through these operations at any given time. And you have a lot of you have a lot of people out there who might want to game the system, you know, and so so there’s, there are a lot of industries that are just kind of coalescing into 1. Yeah.
Brooke Fiumara 08:58
If compliance not only at the state level, at the federal level, I mean, it is an incredibly complex. Yeah, go system of operations, which I think is is fascinating, because if you only work in a restaurant, that is your exposure of billing, or exposure, in gaming and casinos, it’s all of it, right? And so when you have a need to kind of create an ecosystem of all those different data points and interactions for your patrons that your patrons or use, that your patrons are going to and experiencing. You need a tool like OPTX that pulls all that data into a single place and then operationalizes it for those different verticals, whether it’s hotel food and beverage marketing, player development, slash VIP or even just slot floor optimization. And that’s what we do. We take all the data, and then we operationalize it, whether it’s through artificial intelligence modeling, or whether it’s just, you know, standard reporting or whether it’s through actually, you know, tasking a team member to do something.
Lauren Conaway 09:58
Well and to say that opera is a opera operationalizing Pete, whoo, that is a difficult word. But the O word. When you talk about that, like, you know, Matt and I have often talked about the fact that data is only as strong or helpful as what you do with it, how you create those actionable tactics and outcomes that support the success of each area of your business. And so, you know, you say reporting, you say, you know, modeling and forecasting, like, these are all extremely useful things. But talk to us about use case, like, do you have maybe a user who was able to take data insight gleaned and turn it into success? Like, do you, do you have some use cases for us?
Brooke Fiumara 10:43
Yeah, absolutely. So I’ll give you, I think, one of my favorite and most fun use cases is really around, you know, like, we were talking about the arcade and kind of how a slot floor lays out and putting the right games in the right place for the right players. So with OPTX, basically, what our operators can do is look at holistically at their software, and our AI models will go through and look at every single game, the shape of the game, the the way that the game plays the location of the game on the floor, who plays those types of games and the demographic of that player that plays that type of game. And we will present a recommendation to an operator and say, hey, you know, these specific games from this manufacturer, you should take off the floor and replace them with this particular type of game, in addition to swapping these five games around, and if you do that, you will make more money. Yeah, the OPTX are for properties that don’t have OPTX, they do this all day long, right? That is your whole job. It’s to look at the information.
Lauren Conaway 11:44
They’re kind of guessing, right? And they’re educated guesses, but they’re based on biased human experience. Whereas OPTX is polling data, right?
Brooke Fiumara 11:53
Actual information. So we went back we looked at so we took our entire optics database of customers across the United States, and we looked at every slot move that they’ve done over the past five years because we’re talking hundreds and hundreds of moves. And we compare the performance of the game before the move to the performance of the game after the move. So these are decisions that were made without OPTX, right? And essentially, what we found is that let’s flip a coin. It’s a 50-50 proposition 50% of those slot moves that were made without OPTX were good for business and 50% were bad for business. So essentially, like, toss a coin, maybe this won’t work.
Brooke Fiumara 12:15
Maybe it was more half a dozen of the other.
Brooke Fiumara 12:39
Exactly, like, every two moves you do once cancelling the other one out, right? We then started studying, okay, well, let’s take the OPTX model and run it through those same moves, which ones would OPTX have said, Hey, that’s a good decision for the business. Yeah. When we went back and looked at that information, if the operators would have only done the swaps, or the changes that OPTX had greenlighted that 50-50 proposition would have turned to a 70-30 proposition in the favor of the operator. That is material-material savings, not only in time and labor because you’re moving a slot for the movers, many, right? I mean, yeah, and it’s disruptive to the floor, it takes a lot of labor and manpower. But it also has a massive impact on revenue. So you’ve got like the dream scenario, grow revenue-cut expense. And that’s, that’s just an example of how our tool immediately can impact a property.
Lauren Conaway 13:40
Gotta love that data. Gotta gotta gotta love that data. So, talk to us a little bit about how I’m very, very curious as to how you, Brooke, entered into this realm. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Brooke Fiumara 13:54
Yeah, absolutely. So my background is the actual operations of a casino. So I don’t really have a background in technology. You know, my I come from the operator side of the business, as we would call it. But my responsibility, my role in my previous organization was to identify and leverage technology for our team for our properties in our teams to use. Yeah. And through that process, you know, I learned a lot about the tools that were in the marketplace. I learned a lot about the gaps of the tools in the marketplace. And really what I discovered through, you know, my tenure as an operator was that all of the tools on the market were designed and developed by really smart engineers, right? So you had you had people who had come from the technology side of gaming, who said, hey, if I break out on my own and create this product, you know, we think it could do really well. Yeah, problem is that those products were very tech forward and not operationally friendly. So I always say you can have the most innovative, cool technology. But if it’s hard to use and the actual end user does it, it doesn’t matter. And that’s what I was running into constantly. And so you know, I thought to myself, if we could create a product that did all of the amazing things that we need to do with the data, but present it to the user through a UI that was understood, operationally friendly, and really only gave them the things that they needed to know. Yeah, I felt like we could really win in this space. Because it was it’s a big gap. It was a big gap at the time, we’ve obviously close that gap and filled that gap with with OPTX. But at the time, there wasn’t a tool I could put in front of just a normal non techie because, yeah, that they would just intuitively pick up right away. Yeah, that’s what we set out to solve.
Lauren Conaway 15:55
So that’s, and I love that so much. And I mean, we talked about the power of things like like dashboards, even if it’s just systems that are talking to each other that have historically not talked to each other, like that can be transformative for a business. But I think, I mean, clearly, you have hit your about your value proposition on the head, like you got it. It’s the fact that, like, I know so many folks who are experts at what they do, and they are passionate about the products and services that they sell, but you show us like lines and lines of data, like, we just it just it makes your heart, like, skip a beat because you’re like this, it’s too much. And so often, a lot of the power lies in making this information accessible. That’s the that’s the real key because information, information, data, like all of the all of the research, all of this stuff is only helpful if you are able to put it to executable, positive, fluid, forward use, you know, and so you’re absolutely right. Like, I have to my marketing clients, I tell people, I’m like, Look, you can use all the fancy tools and tricks in the world, you can try them all. But if you don’t actually sit down and use them on a regular basis, it means nothing. So I love that that is how you chose to attack, a very real problem that represents I would have to imagine billions in lost revenue, lost productive time, loss, like, you’re addressing a very serious problem. And you’re doing it in such an organic kind of way.
Brooke Fiumara 17:25
Yeah, we, I mean, how I know we’ve like accomplished our goal. And of course, goals are evolving. We all know that in startups, like we start one way, and then we tackle that and we pivot into two more goals and right, constantly doing that. But like our core reason we started the company was to like bridge that gap and really operationalize the data in a user friendly way. And when we win deals, when I do demos, and they say, wow, like this is this looks so easy to use. Yeah, I’m like we got we made it and
Lauren Conaway 17:57
Brooke Fiumara 17:59
Our our UI designer, you know, we pulled, her name’s Hannah, she’s absolutely amazing. And she, we told her like, hey, this UI design, the way that we’re going to build this product is going to be user friendly. And so when you’re thinking of designs, a very complex things when we are to your point, we’re talking layers and layers and years of data that we have to present in an actionable user friendly way. I told her, I’m, like, study, Facebook, study, Instagram, this thing, tick tock, the things you use every day, are the same things that our users are using every day. And so whenever we can put a familiar feature in the way we manage notifications. The way you swipe on your mobile app, use pull inspiration from the things we know that are working in the market and the things we know that people like to use and write, and really successful for us.
Lauren Conaway 18:51
Yeah, well, you’re applying that that multivariate perspective because you’re taking insights gleaned from one area of life and applying it to another, which is a really, really smart way to go about disruptive work. Well done. So another really, really smart thing, friends, smart thing is putting the right team around you and I can tell you that Full Scale can help you do that finding expert software developers doesn’t have to be difficult, we know that you think it has to be difficult, but it does not have to be difficult, especially when you visit FullScale.io where you can build a software team quickly and affordably. Use the Full Scale platform to define your technical needs and then see what available testers, developers and leaders are ready to join your team. Visit FullScale.io or check the show notes for the link to learn more. Friends, we are here today with Brooke Fiumara. Co-Founder and C0-CEO of OPTX. And so right now we’re kind of delving into into the tool and one of the things that Brooke and her team in shout out to Hannah, what’s up? You know, Brooke and her team have done a really fabulous job of taking a very hairy, very intimidating process, which is data collection and analysis, and made it accessible and easy to do for users, the operators, I’m going to use the the term, look I’m learning, but you’re helping, you know, casino operators, entertainment operators, hospitality operators, treat people better serve their customers better. That’s really kind of the end of the day. But one of the things that I’m really, really curious about, you know, you said that you had been getting this really fabulous feedback from folks who were seeing the UI in real-time and saying, This is exactly what I needed, right? Talk to us about the development of that UI, were you taking customer feedback, or even potential target market feedback? And you know, where you said that you worked with HAnnah? You know, how did you? What did that process look like, when you were trying to figure out, this is what we want the UI and the UX to be?
Brooke Fiumara 20:56
Great? I a great question. So I’m laughing because the very early days of our UI design was myself and a couple of our other team members in Excel. And like, yeah, just like highlighting boxes and saying, okay, you know, this is how it’s traditionally presented. You know, this type of data or this report, and here’s how OPTX would present it and how it would be simpler, easier to digest and why it would be, you know, we would show those like Excel designs to other operators, we would, you know, phone a friend, essentially and say, Hey, what do you think of this? Does this makes sense? And we’d get some great feedback, we’d go back and iterate. Then we had Hannah, come on, and she’s like, why do we have Excel let’s, you know, move into like, if you were moving
Lauren Conaway 21:39
to a tech lead tech company, maybe we could look at a technological solution.
Brooke Fiumara 21:44
So she brought actual UI tools to the, to the process, yay, which was a game changer. So. And then, you know, she took our Excel designs, and actually mocked them up into the tool, we use figma. To do all of our UI designing. And from there, we were able to take actual designs that look like actual software, and again, present them to friends and family who work in this business and say, hey, does this make sense? Yeah, I also just personally, having had worked with many tools, having had worked as an operator, I knew the challenges like I knew how the data needed to be presented to the different levels within an organization, obviously, how you present something to an executive is gonna be very different than presenting something to, you know, a line level team member. And so just being able to articulate that to somebody, Hannah being our UI designer, who had zero gaming experience, zero knowledge of this industry, I think, actually was really, really powerful. Because she wasn’t clouded by bias. She just looked at something very objectively and said, Okay, if I was trying to make this as simple as possible, somebody who doesn’t even understand what I’m looking at, here’s what I do. And I think through that process, and still today, four years later, that’s that’s exactly what we do. She she looks at something, she reads the requirements, she spends, you know, 20 minutes kind of initial stab, and then we collaborate. Yeah. As we’ve matured, as we’ve gotten customers, and as our roadmap gets more defined by actual customer requests, and less by the optics team, obviously are able to take, take that right back to the customer and get their feedback, which is really nice. Because, look, we didn’t get it right all the time. Right, it would be crazy to think we did so. It’s really nice. Now having that customer base to be able to go to and say, Hey, what do you think of this and get it right? Well,
Lauren Conaway 23:51
so of course, I love that. Now. Now, Brooke, I’m going to have to ask, we’re going to take a little detour. Because there is something that I wanted to ask you. And like as you were talking it just kind of like was knocking me in the face like, hey, ask her. But I can’t help but notice that you’re a woman. And it sounds like at least one of your technical team is a women again, hey, Hannah, what’s up? And I want to talk to you a little bit about that. Because I find when I think of the gaming industry, just as when I think of the technology industry, I do not necessarily think of women. I have that archetype of the CIS gender white heteronormative male in positions of power. And so I’m wondering, like, talk to us about the industry. As a as a female founder who has surrounded yourself with at least a partially female team. Is there is there been anything of note about that experience? Were surprising nobody listeners, you know, if you don’t know by now, this is my thing. So you can’t be surprised that I asked this question.
Brooke Fiumara 24:58
Yeah, look, gaming is one 100 percent a male dominated industry. It still is today. But there are a couple of things that that I will say and things that I notice. Yeah, just as I, as I have grown up in this, this male dominated space. So when I think that women and this is probably true of all industries, too, to be fair, but I do think that women are much quicker to denounce their own skill sets, or look at a role or an opportunity and say, oh, you know, I only have 5 of the 10 skills, so I’m not qualified.
Lauren Conaway 25:38
So there’s actually a statistic, but on average, with job listings, men only need to satisfy 60% of the requirements to apply. Women actually need to satisfy 100% of the requirements to apply. That’s a big, that’s a pretty big gap.
Brooke Fiumara 25:54
That’s a huge gap. And I like I mean, that’s interesting. I haven’t read that study, I definitely want to go find it. In my experience, I found that it’s, it’s women, it’s their own holding themselves back. Like they feel like, oh, because I don’t have 100% of the skills I shouldn’t apply. What? I got 30%, I’ll applies. This is perfect fit. Yeah, I think it comes down to like, confidence and just knowing like, there is nothing that’s in a role that that you want, that you can’t learn or accomplish or achieve with. And I just don’t think that, you know, a lot of women are just taught that early. You know, I am a mother of a young daughter, and I am constantly teaching her and telling her just last night, she was saying how she can’t do something, it’s too hard. There’s no way she’s gonna get it and how I’m like, how is a seven year old already thinking like that? No, you can absolutely do it. We’re going to work for it. Yeah. And then I also think that good,
Lauren Conaway 26:50
you were really quick, good for you, Mama. Well done.
Brooke Fiumara 26:55
I couldn’t believe it. I’m, like, what do you mean, you can’t do this, you can do this, anyone can do this, you just have to work. And that’s, I think that’s a life lesson probably all genders have to learn is that you can’t shout nothing just handed to you, you have to work for it. Right. But yeah, I think also, the other thing I noticed in meetings, a lot of women will be quiet, and you know, wait to be called on or not feel as comfortable speaking up. And so I’ve really try to be mindful of that in the room and actually seek out the opinions like get people to speak up. So that their their opinions can be heard, and that they’re comfortable speaking those opinions. And finally, like, the biggest thing, honestly, is just actually supporting other women. So rather than viewing this, like competitive nature, and I feel like I’ve been very blessed in my career that, you know, I’ve had female mentors and and haven’t felt like this threatening ambiance. I know that’s not the reality for some women. And so just kind of like supporting other women is obviously incredibly important in any male dominated industry, and like finding those male allies, and I actually co-chair a marketing committee for an organization called Global Gaming Women. And it is all about like,
Lauren Conaway 28:17
Sorry, for those of you just listening, my face just lit up, like a Christmas tree. That was impressive. I just, I could feel my face changing. Talk about Global Gaming Women.
Brooke Fiumara 28:30
Yeah, Global Gaming Women is an incredible organization that is dedicated to the empowerment and growth of females in the gaming industry. So our entire mission is to do exactly what you were just talking about, you know, get, you know, give women the tools, resources and education that they need to excel in their careers and the support that they need, right? We’re moms, we’re busy, we’ve got all these things going on. And so I am just so happy to be a part of that organization. We’re doing some amazing work with with women in gaming specifically.
Lauren Conaway 29:07
Yeah. Are you finding that the culture is changing? Well, to be perfectly honest, like I don’t, I didn’t I don’t have a lot of context around what the culture was like before. But are you seeing change within the industry, more representation, more supportive policies and infrastructure to support diverse leadership within these are like what, I’m hoping that you’re seeing a positive trajectory, but what are you seeing?
Brooke Fiumara 29:31
Absolutely, I mean, 10 years ago, having like a DEI committee within HR or having a team member dedicated to this within these within companies was almost unheard of, not almost unheard of. Now, it’s very common. And I think that they’re just just as the world is changing, gaming is keeping up and I think in a in an area where, like, typically gaming’s many, many years behind in in these specific areas technology, specifically. Yeah, I do think that we’re on a positive trajectory, we have more female founders and CEOs than ever. And so we’re really proud of that.
Lauren Conaway 30:12
Well, so I do, I want to ask, it’s time for the tactical advice time. So so we’re on to this portion of the programming. But as you know, not every not every one of our listeners is involved in the gaming industry. But many of our listeners are involved in male dominated industries. It’s just kind of what happens when you focus on startups in technology and all of those things. But talk to us. So you are great breaking ground. OPTX is breaking ground as a company kind of disrupting an industry delivering information in new and very technologically savvy ways. But then you’re also culturally disrupting an industry, just by your mere presence, and by your success, like, the fact that you are, have been successful and will continue to be successful. That’s it, that’s a representation thing. So talk to our audience, you know, what are some ways that you can disrupt without exploiting, you know, so like, for instance, you know, if we have a listener who wanted to make his environment more female-friendly, woman-friendly, more equitable? What are some ways that he might be able to do that? Does that make sense as a question I can, I can re ask if you need me to.
Brooke Fiumara 31:32
No, no, it makes perfect sense. And I was talking kind of hit on it a little bit earlier about like finding your allies. Yeah, for sure. And I think if we’re talking to a male audience, it’s the inverse, it’s recognizing that you have the opportunity to be an ally. And what that means is, is simply, again, a giving a comfortable space for females in the room to have their opinions heard. You know, a lot of times females are going to be more naturally quiet. Of course, not all the time. But and I think that, you know, being an ally means calling on them. Hey, Lauren, what’s what’s your opinion on this topic, it can be as simple as that. Yeah, kind of gives them the opportunity to shine. I also think, you know, pulling women in, that you think could be a good fit for a role even if they don’t to apply, because again, we know the stats, we know that women feel like they need to meet 100% of the criteria.
Lauren Conaway 32:30
And so here’s so here’s another fun fact, that will shore up your argument because you’re absolutely right. But fun fact, on average, women need to be asked three times to take on a leadership role. And that is whether or not to take the promotion, that is whether or not to run for office, that is whether or not to lead a board. When we look at opportunities that are available to women, we often have to be asked at least three times before we will consider taking on the taking on the role. And that’s a lot of encouragement. Not a lot of people have patience for that kind of encouragement. And so you can see where like gaps are widened. And so I’m just going to piggyback on this brilliant thing that Brooke was saying, like, if you notice that someone is hesitant, even though you’ve asked like, don’t be afraid to
Brooke Fiumara 33:19
Ask her to ask again.
Lauren Conaway 33:22
Throw that out there because like you were talking about was like dawning recognition. She’s right.
Brooke Fiumara 33:27
It’s so true. But I and I also think and I see this with with some of my female employees as well, when you’re when you’re talking to these employees about these opportunities, or whatever, what they’re thinking of is all the other commitments that they have. Their family commitments, their home events. And so as much flexibility as you can give in terms of I recognize this is not always doable, but if it’s possible, hey, I know that your kids, you know, go to school at 8:30, that’s drop off. We don’t do meetings at 8:30. So you can do drop off, we can start our meetings at nine, or we can do our meetings at seven. And just knowing you know, giving that confidence to these female leaders that they can manage their calendar. They can block off the times that they need to, you know, run their other commitments. I do personally and I try to lead by example for my team is that, like, I take my daughter to school. That’s not something I’m willing to sacrifice. Yeah, I want to see her go in school. My calendar is blocked during drop off. You need me before eating me after I’m available. Yeah. And so I think you just have to, like, set your boundaries and as an ally be respectful, those boundaries as long as they’re able to deliver their work, you know.
Lauren Conaway 34:34
I don’t think any of us are super like, Well, I’m not speaking for all of us. I’m saying I don’t I personally don’t care how you get the job done as long as you get the job done. You know, and that. And honestly, I mean, this goes This goes for all marginalized community like communities that kind of, I guess, notice and care around boundaries and balance and you know, I don’t I don’t necessarily even believe that we’re work-life balance is like possible all the time. But that being said, like if you can support that you’re gonna make it so much easier for for folks who have been historically excluded and marginalized, marginalized. Like, this is not these are not won’t situations, these are can’t situations. I literally can’t find childcare. So I might have to take a few more sick days or something like that, you know, when you bridge those gaps, you create equitable opportunity, access to that opportunity. And then you see industry change, and become more inclusive and holistic, right?
Brooke Fiumara 35:33
And the payoff to the organization is massive. I mean, we study Oh, like having diverse opinions at the table only makes the company better all around. Right. So it’s it.
Lauren Conaway 35:45
I think it’s a mechanism, because it’s the right thing to do. Do it because it’s going to help your bottom line like the data shows time and time again, you know, if you want your, your bottom line to increase and improve like this is this is a mechanism by which to do that. Right, have fun.
Brooke Fiumara 36:01
Is it easy to implement and will have an immediate impact on your bottom line? I love that.
Lauren Conaway 36:09
All right, well, so I did, I took us down a nice little detour. But I want to bring it back to OPTX. And I want to bring it back to you, Brooke, the leader that we’re talking to you. You’re awesome. Talk to us about the future. The future for Brooke, the future for OPTX. What are you? What are you hoping to see?
Brooke Fiumara 36:25
Oh, great question. So OPTX, you know, we’re four years young. So I feel like we’re really out of that like immediate startup
Lauren Conaway 36:34
You don’t have like the two year precarious, like, am I gonna lose my house? Is today gonna be a good day?
Brooke Fiumara 36:40
So we’re really in that, like, we are in growth still, for sure. high growth? Yeah, yeah, in and of itself brings its own challenges, you know, balancing, you know, the growth with the product, with the resources. And so, you know, for the next two to four years, we’re really going to maintain this growth trajectory. I really, I see us expanding globally, we’re moving into Canada. I see us tackling other markets. I mean, gaming is not something that’s slowing down. In fact, more jurisdictions continue to legalize gambling and then online gambling is a whole nother space that’s kind of taking over and so.
Lauren Conaway 37:15
We just got sports betting in Kansas, which is a state that’s just to the just to the our neighbors. And like, Yeah, I mean, it’s been really interesting watching this process unfold, like, figuring out how to allocate revenues and how to, like, it’s been really weird watching the process, but kind of exciting. So yeah, like, this is an industry that only has the opportunity to grow.
Brooke Fiumara 37:36
That’s right, which means our product has to be able to adapt and pivot as the industry changes and grows. And so we’re, we’re always keeping our finger on the pulse of that. And so I’m really excited, you know, again, for this kind of high growth area and expansion outside of really the US and outside of just kind of core land based gaming, I think you’ll see us move into online gaming, more recent sports. Because that’s where you that’s where the business is going.
Lauren Conaway 38:02
Yeah, well, so I’m very, very excited to see that to come to fruition. I am also very, very excited to hear you answer the human question. It is time. And so I’m going to ask you a question. And I’m interested to hear your response. But I’m going to give a caveat because I think I know where you might go with this. But what would you buy with a billion dollars, and it can’t be for anybody else. It has to just be for you. That’s my caveat because I feel like you would be like, Whoa, I would do all of these really nice things. And I’m like, no, what do you want?
Brooke Fiumara 38:35
Oh, a billion dollars I can live by. That’s a lot. A lot of money. I don’t even know what a billion dollars can buy. I mean, what
Lauren Conaway 38:45
Alright, let’s scale it. Let’s make it more accessible. How about a million you have a million dollars to spend? That’s that’s a big jump though. 10 million.
Brooke Fiumara 38:53
That’s a big jump. Okay. I’d probably buy like a, like a incredible vacation location, like, somewhere where I could just go spend.
Lauren Conaway 39:03
Are you gonna put yourself in island?
Brooke Fiumara 39:05
Maybe? And like, not a creepy island? Like you can’t do it?
Lauren Conaway 39:10
Yeah, no, no, it’s gonna be like a very beautiful Tahitian aisle or something like that. I’m with you. I’m with you now but
Brooke Fiumara 39:15
then I need like the permanent air transportation. So I also like a lifetime I saw somebody spent $250,000 on like a lifetime United membership. Nice. I like everywhere on United. So maybe something like that, so that I can just fly everywhere.
Lauren Conaway 39:29
And I feel I feel like that’s like I don’t remember where we landed. I landed on the dollar amount. I feel like that’s a really nice thing to buy for yourself. Okay. Somewhere in between a million and a billion.
Brooke Fiumara 39:42
Billion is a lot. I don’t know.
Lauren Conaway 39:44
It really is that was that was what came out of my mouth and then I almost immediately rethought and I was like, wait, that’s too much. Well, I’ll tell you what, Brooke you are not too much. Thank you so much for it. You’re just you’re just right. You’re just another thing. Thank you for taking the time to be on the Startup Hustle podcast and sharing your story. It has been greatly greatly appreciated.
Brooke Fiumara 40:07
Thanks for having me. This was great.
Lauren Conaway 40:10
Well, good. I am so so glad to hear that I always I have, like, my super secret goal for every recording episode that I have is how do we, how do we present the information in a fun way? So so hold on really quick, just one. Brooke, I’m gonna pause this for a second, they’re gonna have to cut this out because I lost something and you can tell because I have no idea where I’m going with the end of that sentence. So, so Brooke, you know, one thing that you are not is too much, you are just enough and you are just wonderful as you are. But I want to thank you so much for taking the time to be on the Startup Hustle podcast with us.
Brooke Fiumara 40:52
Thank you so much. This was great. Really appreciate it.
Lauren Conaway 40:55
Well, I am so glad that it was great. You know what else is great friends? Full Scale. Do you need to hire software engineers, testers, and leaders will Full Scale can help. They have the people in the platform to help you build and manage a team of experts. When you visit FullScale.io, all you need to do is answer a few questions and then let the platform match you up with fully vetted, highly experienced software engineers, testers and leaders. At Full Scale, they specialize in building long term teams that work only for you. Learn more when you visit FullScale.io. And friends, I’m going to point you to our Top Startups Episodes. If you’re not already aware, and we’ve talked about it a couple of times here Brooke and OPTX was recently featured on our Top Las Vegas Startups episode for Startup Hustle. And we do those once a month we go to another city across the US and we talk to startup founders. And we talk about startup founders and we find the coolest, hippest startups in an area. Startups like OTX in Las Vegas. And we just we want to have conversations about startups and founders across the country. So, if you have any suggestions, any ideas, places we should go, definitely reach out and let us know StartupHustle.xyz or you can check the show notes. But you definitely want to listen to our steps Top Startups episode for Las Vegas and you’ll get to hear a little bit more about OPTX and Brooke and what they do. You can check the show notes for more information and we hope to hope to see a download and get some really good information. But more than that, friends, we hope to see you keep coming back. We were very grateful that you listened to us week after week, and we hope you keep on doing it because we love putting Startup Hustle on for you and we will catch you next time.