Elicia Lee is the woman who used her life savings to bring us GameStart

The first of the Women in tech in Asia series focuses on one who’s more than just a gamer at heart

She loved gaming so much, she gave up a huge chunk of her life savings for it. If you don’t already know who we’re on about, it’s Elicia Lee, the person who toiled day and night to make Gamestart a reality.

But Lee didn’t initially pursue a career in gaming. She was from Electronic Arts, in charge of setting up and running Origin, the company’s online store when it was launched in 2010. She then moved on to regional marketing within EA. 

About two years ago, Lee bid farewell to EA, and embarked on co-founding a company called Zombits (a digital media agency). But Lee has also a life beyond just her start-up; she’s been so passionate about gaming that she decided to share that love with others.

And that’s how GameStart was born.

“I’ve been gaming since the days of Windows DOS, and I worked in a gaming company. I also like gadgets and stuff, so whenever I heard of any big game shows, they used to excite me,” she said.

Lack of attention in the gaming sphere

But Lee noticed there was a gap in the gaming convention space in Singapore, or even Southeast Asia for that matter.

“There were a few older ones many years ago, but we’ve never had a good gaming convention within this region that reached the scale of E3 or Tokyo Game Show. So since people would have needed to travel to attend these, I organised GameStart.”

Sometime in late 2013, Lee, along with a couple of other good friends within the gaming industry, embarked on the mission to make this “crazy idea” of hers a reality, and the rest became history.  

“An ex-boss of mine who knows nothing about gaming saw the passion that we had and invested in GameStart. The rest of it is pretty much me, and my savings so GameStart is like my baby as well as a tick off my bucket list,” Lee claimed. 

Future plans

The first GameStart launched in 2014, and building off the success of the inaugural convention, the consecutive one will take place in mid-November this year. But of course, the upcoming one promises to be bigger and better.

“Last year, it was purely a consumer show and we saw good results so this year, we’ve decided to spread it across two halls instead of one. What we’re also doing is adding a B2B component, which we think the industry really needs.”

Networking and bringing in overseas expertise that local companies can learn from is the other objective of the growing GameStart (along with being a consumer trade show, of course). The nitty-gritty details of the convention are still being worked on, but it promises PC, mobile, and everything gaming.

“The tech space itself is so exciting and if you don’t keep up with it, you fall behind really quick. Virtual reality is something that I’m keeping an eye on and I think it’s going to change the way a lot of things are done, not just from a gaming point of view,” Lee mentioned.

Lee added that her short-term goals include bringing in the right content to GameStart and working with the right partners to make it the Tokyo Game Show of the SouthEast Asian region.