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Kelowna startup community helped to fuel recent acquisition of PLAYR.gg, Says CEO

Kelowna, BC - Jan 13, 2021 — PLAYR.gg, a leading technology platform for brands and content creators to grow their audiences and generate first-party customer data, was recently acquired by Toronto-based Trufan, a social intelligence platform that helps brands make smarter marketing decisions. While the acquisition marks a significant increase in Trufan’s expansion, PLAYR.gg co-founder and CEO Austin Walper is taking the opportunity to reflect on his journey of building a company from the ground up and hoping to use these learnings to help other aspiring entrepreneurs. 

Before founding PLAYR.gg, Walper spent five years working in retail and held various management positions. Despite his success climbing the corporate ladder, he found himself unfulfilled, unmotivated, and lacking passion in his life. Always having had an interest in technology, Austin began to explore what Kelowna had to offer in the sector and stumbled upon Accelerate Okanagan(“AO”), a local accelerator and mentorship community for entrepreneurs. 

“This really opened my eyes and helped me realize what a vibrant and supportive tech community Kelowna has”, said Walper. “It’s exactly the catalyst I needed.” Within a few weeks, at the age of 22, Austin left his full-time job, sold his car, and put every last penny he had into a small business bank account so that he could pursue his dreams of starting his own company. 

“Those early days are really humbling to reflect on,” he recalled. “I really had no idea what I was doing, but I knew I had to figure it out”. Austin and his team were early participants in Accelerate Okanagan’s Venture Acceleration Program, which connected them with the mentorship, connections, and community they needed to thrive. Austin worked closely with his mentors to validate their startup idea and develop a business plan. Those same mentors would later become PLAYR.gg’s first investors, helping the company accelerate its growth. 

“When we raised our first round of capital, we didn’t even have a prototype and we barely had a pitch deck. Our investors just believed in the idea and the dedication we were demonstrating,” says Austin Walper. “I really owe so much to those individuals and to AO. Without their support we likely would have failed in the first 6 months”. 

PLAYR.gg saw dramatic growth over its 3-year lifespan. Having immersed himself in the Okanagan tech community, Walper knew that he would need to create a presence outside of Kelowna if his company was ever to succeed. So, he packed a suitcase and set out on a journey traveling to San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Miami, Europe, and more.

From their founding in 2017, PLAYR.gg raised over $2.3M from several institutional and angel investors across Canada and the US. Shortly thereafter, PLAYR.gg had closed large enterprise contracts with major brands including Electronic Arts, UFC, Amazon, Bud Light, and GFUEL; and Austin Walper was representing the business by frequently speaking at events around the world such as TwitchCon, E3, PAX, SXSW, and CES. 

Walper is looking to leverage his time as a co-founder and CEO to start consulting for companies and supporting young entrepreneurs. His ultimate aspiration is to focus on becoming a content creator, using his unique perspective and leveraging social media to inspire other hopeful young entrepreneurs to take the leap into entrepreneurship. 

“Starting a company is easily the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, but it is also the thing that I am most proud of,” says Walper. “This journey caused me so much stress and sleepless nights but I would do it all over again. The amount of personal growth that my team and I went through is nothing short of incredible. Now that we’ve sold the company, I’m really looking forward to stepping out of the CEO role for a while and focusing on building my personal brand and using my experience to help other entrepreneurs and startups”. 

Want to connect with Austin? You can find him on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.

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