Celebrating Women In Tech: Highlighting Krikey

March is Women’s History Month – a time for us to come together and celebrate women-led startups in the tech industry. Our third of four features highlights the founders of Krikey — Ketaki Shriram and Jhanvi Shriram —and how they utilize Google Cloud’s easy to use tools to bring diversity into the mobile AR gaming space. 

Many of you may know mobile Augmented Reality (AR) gaming from the game Pokemon Go. Pokemon Go brings the virtual characters of the Pokemon world right to your phone and allows you to interact with those characters in the real world. Krikey aims to bring the same excitement, but by leveraging stories that are rarely told in mainstream gaming. As sisters and co-founders this was something we felt was missing from the games we grew up playing. 

After making a documentary film in 2014 that we sold to Univision, we enjoyed working with each other so much that we decided to continue blending our storytelling and engineering skills together to tell diverse stories in the gaming industry. There are so many points of view through which to see the world, and highlighting the lack of representation in the gaming industry was top of mind for us. 

Krikey, brings the excitement of gaming right to the user’s phone. Using augmented reality in our new game, “Yaatra”, gamers will be able to use weapons such as the bow and arrow, chakra, lightning and fire bolts, and players can battle through different levels of combat and puzzle games. 

Breaking into the tech industry

It has been difficult to break into the male-dominated technology and gaming industries. While fundraising, we have taken 75+ pitch meetings. In the more difficult meetings we end up spending time answering questions about past experiences and to prove our knowledge of game development, technology and storytelling. In the more inspiring meetings, we are asked about our vision for the future. To transform the industry, women need to be empowered to articulate their potential. These varied experiences have taught us patience and perseverance. Our goal is to build for the next generation of gamers, an increasingly diverse audience. As of December 2020, we have raised $22 million for our startup.

Our company culture reflects the diversity and inclusion we aim to capture in the stories we tell through our games. We are a small group of 35 employees and growing. Our team is built on the foundational values of kindness, honesty, trust and respect. We work together, with the help of Google Cloud, to create new and exciting games for our customers.

Krikey: Mobile AR gaming powered by Google Cloud

Our first Google Cloud experience was using Firebase, but we quickly expanded to Firestore once we saw the traffic to our servers. Google Cloud was able to grow with our company as we migrated to CloudSQL and Cloud Functions. Making this switch decreased the rendering time for customers, which improved the overall speed of our games. As more and more gamers found our platform, we adopted Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) as our primary deployment service. GKE allows our customers to experience the app instantly and consistently, with no lag time. 

At Krikey, we want to make it easy for our developers to write, deploy, and debug code quickly with easy-to-use tools. This is precisely why we have integrated Cloud Shell into our development workflow. Cloud Shell allows us to manage our kubernetes infrastructure and develop our apps, right within our web browser. With Cloud Shell we are also able to easily access tools like Skaffold, minikube and Docker. All these come pre-installed and kept up to date in Cloud Shell, so no more hunting around for how to install the latest version and all its dependencies. And to further drive developer productivity and ensure our developers spend less time on security, we leverage vulnerability scanning. This way images automatically identify operating system package vulnerabilities as a part of CI/CD. 

With four separate games, all requiring multiple video feeds, we rely on Cloud Operations to monitor, troubleshoot and improve our applications’ performance. In particular, Cloud Monitoring dashboard gives us deep visibility into latency, downtime, and the overall health of our application. And once a problem is identified, having one integrated view of alerts, SLOs, events, and logs via the dashboard which allows us to quickly identify which container has the problem, fix the container and re-deploy. Additionally, Google Maps for Gaming Platform has allowed us to completely customize our games, design engaging games in the real world, and create an immersive experience, no matter where in the world our customers are playing. We feel confident that the Google Cloud and Google Maps infrastructure will be there to scale as Krikey continues to grow.

Women in Tech + Gaming

Growing up as young women of color, we never saw ourselves represented in the stories or games we consumed —and we especially didn’t see ourselves in the video games we played. We built Krikey to foster a sense of belonging in the next generation of gamers. We hope Krikey’s diverse games inspire young people of all backgrounds to dive into the tech and gaming industries. 

Representation is important because it shapes our idea of what is possible. To be able to dream big, it helps to see people who look like you in content where that story can play out. Building a game that tells the story of a young woman of color banished from a castle, fighting monsters and securing her place on the throne, hopefully inspires a young girl who looks like her to fight for her dreams, too. 

If you want to learn more about how Google Cloud can help your startup, visit our startup page here where you can apply for our Startup Program, and sign up for our monthly startup newsletter to get a peek at our community activities, digital events, special offers, and more.

By Jhanvi Shriram(CEO, Krikey) and Ketaki Shriram(CTO, Krikey)
Source: Google Cloud Blog

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