Meet the Founder of Rufus
Rufus’s founder Diana Moreau is on a mission to bring the best people to the rosters of esports companies. Not only that, she is spreading the word about the benefits of working in esports and introducing strong and diverse voices to the developing space. For the better part of a decade, Diana has been an advocate in the video game industry, sitting on the cutting edge of evolving technology, infrastructure and policy. Through her work in legislative outreach—promoting products and industry priorities, to her work as the leader of esports—Strategic Initiatives at Events DC, where she developed first-of-its kind sponsorships, she has demonstrated extensive and successful experience in the field. But it’s Diana’s passion as a connector that makes her the unique power to bridge the gap between the best talent and the burgeoning esports ecosystem.
Diana sat down with us to talk esports, Rufus and how drinking Mudslides on Nantucket changed everything.
What is Rufus?
At its core, Rufus is about connecting people, ideas and information in the esports world.
Tell us about how Rufus started.
It’s something that’s been in the works probably before I even knew it was happening. And I say that because much of Rufus is grounded in my passion for connecting people. I’ve been that way for as long as I can remember—loved introducing friends, learning more about people at weddings, following up for coffee afterward. I just get a kick out of seeing that spark when people connect and exchange ideas, passions, or even just hobbies. I don’t know if you would call it serendipity, but I like when I’m in the right place at the right time, when experiences, interests and opportunities align—that’s what Rufus will do on a larger scale.
My own introduction to the video game industry was rather serendipitous. I was the business and strategy manager at a dental practice when a returning patient told me about her work at the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). She ended up mentoring my transition from the dental practice into the video game industry.
In my legislative outreach role at ESA I really gained my legs in the profession. I saw what video games could do for people—not just entertainment, which is important, but also education, training, and even therapy. And it was at ESA that I was able to co-establish the Higher Education Video Game Alliance (HEVGA), where over 283 member-institutions create a global community for the video game design programs at those institutions.
At ESA I jumped at the opportunity to work on behalf of a non-profit to develop an educational platform with a focus on learning outside of the classroom. Unfortunately, the project went in a different direction and I soon found myself laid off. My husband and I had prepaid for a vacation to Nantucket the week after I had been let go. Everything was non-refundable so we said let’s just try to enjoy it, even though we had the cloud of my layoff hanging over our heads.
One afternoon we were drinking Mudslides at The Gazebo, a bar overlooking the Nantucket Harbor, and my husband asked if I would consider trying my hand at recruiting in the video game industry. The thought had crossed my mind several times before—it seemed to align my passion with my skill set. As we were considering this, we happened to strike up a conversation with the people around us. Turns out one of those people was the Chairman of the Board at Events DC, the official convention and sports authority for the District of Columbia. Serendipity struck again, and soon after that first meeting I interviewed at Events DC and landed a job as the Head of Esports, Strategic Initiatives.
I’ve loved working at Events DC and it was my experience there that convinced me to move forward with Rufus—that making these connections in the Esports world on a larger scale was something I wanted to do.
Why did you name your company Rufus?
My husband and I were walking our dog Teddy around downtown Annapolis when we ran into Tyler and Monika Dockendorf who were walking their dog Rufus. Through this chance meeting, we became good friends with Tyler and Monika—we’d spend a lot of time talking about business ideas and opportunities. They were influential in moving us forward with the company, and we thought the way we had met them—through Rufus, embodied the type of connection and serendipity the company fosters.
What are your favorite parts of working in the Video Game Industry and in Esports in particular?
I have met so many wonderful people in this industry who are genuinely kind, creative thinkers. It’s inspiring to work in a community alongside such talent. Beyond the people, the breadth and variety in what video games can do is captivating. As I mentioned earlier, video games can entertain, instruct, challenge, communicate, heal. There’s an innovation and creativity in the field that’s hard to match.
For someone who’s not yet initiated in the esports world, why would you tell them they need to try it out?
It’s an exciting time in the industry, full of innovation and change. Esports in itself has existed for quite some time, but it has been in the last few years that we’ve really seen it take off. Working in the field at this time, you have a chance to influence the ground level of a new sports league. There will be lots of challenging and exciting issues that will require creative solutions.
What are you most excited about for the industry looking forward?
I’m looking forward most to injecting the space with diverse talent. I’m a firm believer that diversity of ideas and people directly influence the success of the content and the infrastructure behind it.
Written by: Cate Stern
Cate Stern is an attorney and writer. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and daughters.