"For me, it's about joy. I always knew what joy meant, but I finally stepped into it when I allowed myself to be myself."

My dream dinner guest would be: Desmond Tutu My favorite country is: Botswana

Raymond Watt

Building data-driven social media in the gaming universe

THE JOY OF PROBLEM SOLVING. Raymond Watt puts much of his entrepreneurial journey down to a series of happy accidents. Now on to his third company, or "bite of the apple," he believes his growth results from being open to opportunities, a compulsion to solve complex problems, and seizing the moment rather than spotting a gap in the market.

"I think there's something to be said of the 'accidental CEO' because we have this deep desire to learn and curiosity to understand. It's what makes me show up every day as an entrepreneur."

From a young age, Raymond's natural inquisitiveness and love of books made him different from most of the boys in his class, with interests ranging from science fiction to chess, and a love for art. Born and raised in South Africa, he describes his family as "deeply loving people" led by his father, an evangelical pastor. "I was not your typical South African boy, but my sense of loving and serving people meant I never felt othered."

After deciding not to follow in his father's footsteps ("I still think it's my fallback career"), Raymond studied computer science, drawn to its "endless possibilities at a time when software was starting to drive everything." Soon after college, in 1996, he founded his first company, WebActive Solutions. At the start of the internet age, when big organizations had a high demand for Windows 95 training, he developed software that brought the training directly to them. He sold the business in 1999, aged 26.

After a four-year sabbatical, during which he moved to France, Raymond launched his second business, REO Consulting, in 2004. After expanding his client base across three continents, he sold it in 2011 and moved to the US with plans to hang up his CEO hat and create an investment fund. However, one of his first investments proved tempting enough to lure him back to the CEO role.

AMPLIFYING THE JOY OF GAMING. The company, Omnislash, is a data and social platform enabling gamers to tell their story by consolidating all their gaming data into one place. Users link all their data sources from any publisher, and Omnislash captures the information and visualizes the narrative across all of their gameplay.

"I was attracted to the size of the problem. There are 3 billion gamers out there of every age, color, orientation, and religion - finding a way to allow people to tell their stories excited me. It's ensuring that people get a voice, are recognized for who they are, and have the tools and access to tell that story. I think narrative has become more important now than ever before."

Raymond took the CEO role at Omnislash two years after coming out as gay, a moment that marked the culmination of a long journey of self-acceptance, finding his voice and the power within it. "Ultimately, for me, it's about joy. I always knew what joy meant, but I finally stepped into it when I allowed myself to be myself, and I had the voice to actually communicate that. I didn't necessarily join Omnislash because it's a great matchup to my journey, but since I started working at this company, there's something in me now that comes from a place of safety, joy, and happiness."

As a founder who launched his career and thrived in one of the most profound eras of technological advancement, Raymond believes the key to the planet's future health lies in technology. "I believe that unity will come through technology - I think it's the superweapon we have. I hope to grow into finding better ways of not just solving the narrative of gamers, but the narrative of humans. That's the vision I have for myself."

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Presented with Pride Here is the first collection of one hundred incredible and inspiring LGBTQIA+ venture-backed entrepreneurs featured in this year's Gaingels 100.