Deb Smith, Founder of Rewardify, on Winning as a Woman
Rewardify is changing the game for cash sweepstakes apps. With a highly engaged user base and annual revenue in the millions, the company shows no sign of slowing down: In 2020, Rewardify stacked up more than 2.5 million downloads, with an average rating of 4.4 stars-out-of 5 across over 200,000 user ratings.
Rewardify’s games are free-to-play and rely primarily on ad monetization. By taking an age-old niche and turning it into a fun and trustworthy mobile gaming experience, Rewardify’s founder, Deb Smith, has found a way to succeed in a sustainable way.
It’s no secret that in mobile gaming – and the greater technology ecosystem – female founders are underappreciated and under-funded compared to their male counterparts. However, Deb is clear that she succeeds because she’s a woman, and not in spite of it.
“It’s been successful for us to build a collaborative environment rather than a controlling one,” said Deb. “Bringing the feminine side to business means being collaborative, asking deeper questions, providing a nurturing safe environment for our employees to take ownership, and make sure we are all aligned with our values and goals. We drive hard as an aligned team.”
Embracing energetic alignment and collaboration in business
Deb’s persistence in her belief in the power of bringing your whole self to work comes from a deeper place that she fought to uncover.
“I am half Native American, but didn’t know it until I was a teenager,” said Deb. “My mother had a great deal of shame associated with being Native American, growing up in a time when the US government was determined to hide the ruination of the Native American people and their culture by assimilating them. When my mother was orphaned at 8 and sent to a Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school, she was stripped of her culture and not allowed to speak Creek, her native language. She was told to be grateful that she was so fair-skinned and could pass as white. She was taught to be ashamed of her heritage and hid it from her children. Tough times drive us to grow and a challenging divorce led me to exploring Native American spiritual ceremonies as a path of self discovery. Sweat lodges and medicine wheels became my connection to Spirit and the Earth. This gave me the understanding of the connectedness of all things at a deep level. This is the knowing that guides me when I talk about energy and alignment.”
As a result, Deb is clear that energetic alignment is critical to building, running, and scaling a business. “I think of everything in terms of energy,” said Deb. “When we are resonating at the same frequency, with the same values, we can have greater outcomes. Like a gestalt. The sum of the parts are greater than the whole. One plus one isn’t two, it’s 11.”
Don’t buy into anyone’s beliefs about you
In spite of the fact that less than 3% of VC funding has historically gone to women-led businesses, those businesses generated 40% more revenue than their male-founded counterparts, delivering more than twice as much per dollar invested by VCs. This disparity continues to fuel Deb’s personal mission: Inspire and support female entrepreneurship.
When asked what advice she would share with female founders, Deb offered the following:
- Do not underestimate yourself. We consistently undervalue ourselves in an industry where confidence can make or break deals. If I could instill in women the knowledge that all they have to do is believe in their abilities and instincts, they will win.
- Know that as a woman, you are naturally a better leader. You are not just ‘as good’, you are actually better equipped to be a successful entrepreneur than your male counterpart. It is statistically proven. You are enough. Know it, deep in your bones. Root out the beliefs that don’t serve. When your beliefs about yourself are in alignment with your passion and goals, the outcome of success is assured.
- Do your work with authenticity and integrity, and trust your instincts. Trust your feelings. We run our business with data and analytics, but I also tune in to energy and follow my gut. I believe this gives me the resilience to move into solutions quickly. My company’s investors and advisors know this, and know that no matter the challenge, I’ll meet the curve in the road.
“Am I revenue-driven? You bet I am. I’m in the game business,” said Deb. “But I believe these principles serve up not only our business success, but the deeper life journey success of loving what you do every day with people that you love and respect and the opportunity to inspire others to achieve excellence.”