Caroline Strzalka, co-founder and COO of Overplay, is changing the landscape of digital interaction by turning everyday videos into engaging games. With a unique platform described as ‘TikTok for gaming’, Overplay allows users to create and share interactive games without any coding knowledge, promoting a new era of user-generated content. This founder profile digs into Strzalka’s journey from conceptualization to realization, highlighting her innovative approach to making gaming accessible to all.

Funding Round Details

Overplay logo
Company: Overplay
Security Type: SAFE
Valuation: $50,000,000
Min Investment: $250
Platform: Wefunder
Deadline: Jul 9, 2024
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Can you briefly describe Overplay?

It’s like TikTok for gaming. You can take any video and turn it into a game in minutes without any code. Then, you can share it with the world. So, imagine now that you can make any of your videos interactive. A video of you throwing a frisbee to your dog can now be a swiping and a tapping game (with the player swiping the screen as you throw the frisbee and then tapping the screen as your dog catches it, and if they swipe and tap in time with those actions occurring in the videos, they get points). We predict that all videos will soon be expected to be interactive; because of Overplay, you can now gamify anything! Overplay allows for deeper experiences between creators and fans, and we think it will be entirely revolutionary for advertising. We are truly democratizing gaming.

What inspired you to take the leap and start this company?

For me, Overplay was one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that you hear about on podcasts like “How I Built This” – a brilliant friend came to me with a brilliant idea at just the right time when short-form video and gaming are the hottest things in the world. If I didn’t take the leap, I’d honestly be stupid. We have a patented technology for turning videos into games that no one else has – not Meta, Google, or anyone. This was a right-place-at-the- right-time situation. I knew that I could help Dan, Overplay’s creator, make the technology and platform a truly viable, valuable business. So, I joined and never looked back!

Can you tell us how you met your co-founder and how your skill sets complement each other?

We met at Sesame Street. That’s right…we’re not from your traditional FAANG (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google) founders (although, in full disclosure, I have done deals with all those companies during my career!). We came from the media world, where we were always thinking about how we could stretch the usage of the content we were filming…how could we make the expensive live-action muppet videos go further? Can we make it interactive? Can we turn it into a game? In our seven years working together at Sesame, Dan and I made dozens of products that won BAFTAs and Webbys and other awards. We made Sesame’s very first apps, got Sesame’s long and short-form videos up and streaming on new platforms, enabled kids to “jump into episodes” with Microsoft’s Kinect Sesame Street TV, and so many other things. I knew that Dan was a brilliant creator and producer, and he knew that I was a brilliant business person. Together, we could make magic happen.

What was your experience like on Shark Tank?

Unequivocally, I can say it was one of the best experiences of my life. Given the name of the show…Shark Tank…you expect that you will be fed to the sharks. But our experience was the exact opposite. Everyone involved with the show is pro-entrepreneur. They respect you taking the risks that you are to make your idea come to life, and they relish in the fact that you are sharing your creation with them. They are trying to help you put your best foot forward in getting investment from the sharks because they know that this experience could change the trajectory of your life. They’ve seen it happen across the 15 years they’ve done the show. We felt supported throughout the experience and were thrilled that we made a good showing on-air. And of course SUPER THRILLED that MARK CUBAN INVESTED (insert super excited Kermit throwing his hands into the air meme :D). Mark and his team have been caring and involved mentors and advisors. We can’t wait to tell you what’s coming next from this relationship!

Could you highlight some of the diverse use cases for Overplay?

The beauty of Overplay is that we are putting technology into the world by which people will feel empowered for the first time to become game makers. If you just think for a moment, you will realize how Overplay can truly become transformative of how we interact with each other. You can gamify your life! Now, rather than sending grandma a video of her grandchildren jumping on a trampoline, you can send her a game where her grandchildren are the stars, and that game can be played over and over again with family members even competing against each other! Movie and TV studios can make interactive trailers, musicians and labels can make interactive music videos, and brands and agencies can make interactive commercials.  We have been approached by educators who want to bring Overplay into schools for teachers and kids to add games to the curriculum, doctors who want to use Overplay for medical training, and even Native American tribes who want to teach ancestral drumming and dances. Overplay is unleashing endless game creation and gameplay. I’m so excited to see what people will make!

Why did you decide to crowdfund and how does crowdfunding align with your mission of democratizing gaming?

We decided to crowdfund because we wanted to bring Overplay to the people…as users and creators, but also as INVESTORS. Very rarely do regular, everyday people have the chance to invest in companies that will be unicorns. And given what Overplay is, the traction that we have, and the patents that we own, we feel that Overplay will be one. Crowdfunding also allows investors to discover Overplay and then become users and evangelists. Some ancillary benefits to doing crowdfunding is that Shark Tank producers discovered us through Wefunder (you heard that correctly…we were discovered by producers…we never actually applied to be on the show!) and that some of our investors have also introduced us to big time media partnerships. There are so many benefits to crowdfunding!

You just launched Overplay in beta. Can you tell us about any early feedback?

The first thing that we have observed from early adopters is that they are shocked that they can now make games, share them and also play games made by other people. Overplay is much easier than Roblox or any other user-generated gaming platform, so we are attracting a whole new cohort of users that never thought of themselves as game makers or players. We’re tapping into a user base that gaming has never reached before! We are also constantly testing and rolling out new features – figuring out what works or what needs to be worked-on from our audience. It’s been quite a challenging and fun journey, but our entire team loves what Overplay is building, what we stand for, and what we’re bringing to the world. We are approaching 1.5M games played on the platform with over 250K app downloads at this point – almost all through organic traffic (and no marketing). We are just at the very beginning stages of what we feel will be a huge global platform and phenomenon!

What is the most important lesson you learned as an entrepreneur?

Build your idea and continue to refine it, bring on believers to build with you and invest, and also continue to grow your network. It’s a formula of: idea + team + hard work + funding that enables you to make your dreams come to life. None of this can be done alone.