Totem Turns 5 ! 

Today we are celebrating our 5th Birthday! It’s hard to believe it has really been 5 years since we opened our doors as Totem Learning and a whole new chapter began. It’s not always been easy, it’s not always been fun, but it has been an incredible journey. From health and safety, to VR welding, from make up to the very  future of learning - our products and developments have spanned a varied and fascinating mixture of sectors.

In 2017, our team had their first foray into makeup for our development team with WOWHOW. A team of beardy programmers and artists testing an Augmented Reality makeup application was a sight to behold. But they put aside their predispositions and welcomed  their metrosexual side and now what they don’t know about makeup just isn’t worth knowing.

The team has also been building a complex P&L system for a major UK brewer and tool set to feed into our core engine development. And even though it may have caused a few headaches along the way, I think it’s fair to say our programmers should now be awarded a PhD in maths.

One of the most exciting projects we have just completed is visualising the future for Shell in Virtual Reality. The team had a great time working with Shell and together we created something truly special. We even managed to sneak ourselves into the product…


And if you are wondering what we look like in real life….(imagine this lot in full make up!)


Our year hasn’t all been fun and games. At the very end of January our Founder, MD and friend Richard passed away. Richard started Totem Learning alongside his dedicated team during very difficult circumstances. From the very beginning he was committed to making Totem a wonderful place to work where creativity was encouraged and fairness ruled. He had a clear vision and built an extraordinary group of supporters in the form of our investors and partners. His passion for Totem was contagious and his easy going style meant that he was loved by so many people. He is missed every single day for support, guidance, wisdom and of course that cheeky smile and contagious sense of humour.


We were forced to pause and re-evaluate as people moved into new roles and we had a huge hole to fill. Totem welcomed Spencer Holmes in to the team in March as Chief Commercial Officer, to really drive the growth of the business and together Spencer and Helen re-wrote the company strategy, forged new partnerships and expanded our geographical reach through partnerships in every continent in the world (well, except Antarctica...yet).


Alongside our growing bespoke development capabilities Totem have recognised that not everyone is ready for a full blown serious game and therefore we have tailored our offering to help customers along their digital learning journey. Our new Consultancy service and elearning offerings provide a lower cost, yet still highly interactive learning option.


Social Enterprise is close to all our hearts at Totem and we’ve had the pleasure to continue supporting The Prince's Trust and Prince's Trust International, taking The Business Game into 45 schools in Pakistan after we translated it into Urdu. And of course we have continued to support young people who want to get into the games industry by providing work experience opportunities to give their first leg up onto the ladder.


Giving back to the local and international community is incredibly rewarding and 2017 has also been a year of achievement and recognition. Shortly after winning European Serious Games Award in 2016 for the best game in the Business category, Helen was shortlisted and won the Women Who...Innovates With Technology at the Women Who Awards in May.

According to ‘Woman Who…’ the woman who will win this award must prove that she embraces technology in the work that she does and she must be able to demonstrate the use of technology within her business and/or her client's’ business. All the above definitely describes Helen; she is very passionate about blending technology with learning and she proves it daily with the quality of the work she produces. She is constantly developing her knowledge and she wants people to love what she does as much as she does.  


The Judges selected our Winner as she quite simply “blew them away” in this category. She is a leader in her field, constantly innovating and at the same time developing herself personally.

Totem Learning's Unlock: Project Management has been shortlisted for "Best Learning Game" at this year's Learning Technology Awards. The Learning Tech Awards shortlist follows a year-long research collaboration with Dr Ronald Dyer at the University of Liverpool where the game was shown to have had a direct and positive effect on all key metrics. Average individual results went from 58.6% to 66.4%, standard deviation between scores went from 10.5 to 5.7 and for the first time there was a 100% pass rate.


Totem have also been shortlisted for Digital and Creative Communications Company of the year and The Export Award at the Coventry Telegraph Business Awards.

We were shortlisted because of our products and services ranging from consultancy, eLearning, VR, AR and Serious Games. At Totem we recognise the value of creative thinking and design for our clients, all at different stages on the digital learning spectrum. We were shortlisted for the Export Award because a significant proportion of our sales are from outside the UK, with international sales representing 57% of our revenues. Totem’s client base includes customers in 25 countries such as USA, India, Africa, Qatar, Pakistan, Jordan, China and the Gulf States and we have seen a 64% growth in exports in the last 6 months.

Helen, our CEO has also been nominated and shortlisted for Entrepreneur of the Year for the SME awards in Coventry and Warwickshire.

It is absolutely wonderful to do what we do and have fun at work, but it is the absolutely icing on the cake when all our efforts are recognised.

Of course none of this would be possible without the fabulous forward thinking partners we have had the pleasure to work with in this time, of which a few are highlighted below. 


Totem continues to be a thought leader in the serious games and gamification industry and our strategy has been built to keep us ahead of the 'GAME'. 


Happy 5th Birthday to all at Totem Learning, we have collaborated on 2 projects in Shell and both times I have been blown away the inventiveness, eagerness and flexibility shown by all the team, it’s very hard to identify what it is that you do better than your competitors it’s a certain something that you can’t put your finger on.. which is great because it’s hard to replicate. If you think that when you were 5 you were just starting your Learning by going to school.. then fast forward to 10 you felt like you knew everything and then by 21 you were certain that whatever you did it was the best way.. I can see that by the time I am writing a similar message in 5 years Totem will be bigger and better again and I look forward to witnessing and in some small way contributing to that success. Andrew Goose, Global Learning Advisor Customer Operations at Shell Oil Company

Warmest 5th Birthday wishes to Totem Learning. At EmployabilityUK we have had the privilege of working with Richard and more recently Helen and the team on some exciting projects. We are looking forward to bringing SmithCity to life in 2018. Warmest wishes. Di Vernon and the team at EmployabilityUK.

Happy Birthday. It’s been great working with you. Wishing you many more years success. Richard Newton - Initiator of Unlock Project Management.

Happy Birthday, May the lord bless you with long life and all the happiness, Best Regards, Ajay Desai, Trade Director, Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, Department for International Trade.

Running a small business is tough, running a small business that makes ‘serious’ games is even tougher. The past 12 months must have been especially difficult and upsetting for Totem but you’ve clearly weathered the storms and are flourishing. Well done. Andy Yoeman, Focus Games Ltd.

Happy Birthday! - in the short space of time that we have met, it’s been excellent. From the moment I spoke to Helen via Skype to our meeting in Eustons, our business relationship and I guess friendship has blossomed. Our two days at Totem just summed up what an awesome team that you guys have assembled. The friendliness, the passion, enthusiasm and genuine sincerity has been awesome..Btw, I really do hope that the Totem does receive an award on the 29th Nov because it genuinely does deserve it. To be short listed amongst the big boys alone is a great achievement and showcases that even a small amazing gaming studio from Coventry can deliver brilliance and magic! Either way it will be a good night! Peter Lazou - Popcourne.

On the felicitous occasion of your fifth year of existence, I wish you joyous celebrations and ongoing success. May the gods of fortune bestow multitudinous blessings. Wishing you all the best, Clark Quinn.

Happy 5th Birthday to Totem! It’s an impressive achievement for any small business to reach the 5-year milestone but, for Totem over the last 12 months, it’s especially significant. Being here today and thriving is down to the spirit of the team (there’s no one quite like it that I’ve ever worked with) and the strong leadership at the helm of the company. I hope that, on your Birthday, the whole team takes a few moments to reflect on their clear successes and look to the future that, by the sounds of it, will be overwhelmingly award-winning! Suzee Laxton, Strategic Economic Development Officer, Warwickshire Council.

Wow 5 years! I certainly can't even imagine how challenging it is to navigate through such a tough time. I am happy that you are continuing to move forward and doing what Richard would have insisted...keep going! All the Best, Jim Rustad, President at NoCéDu.

Totem Learning  is dialing Serious Games to 6. Five years ago the company started with the bold vision that Serious Games could have a wide array of business applications. At the time the idea was met with skepticism by many business organizations. A mere half a decade later it is amazing to think about how far Totem Learning has come: a world-renowned serious game developer backed by people who have combined their creativity, diligence, and passion to support this vision. Congrats on your fifth corporate anniversary, Totem Learning! Wishing you many more years of success, making great games and having fun doing so! Eliane Alhadef, Serious Game Market Editor.

Congratulations to Totem on five years of creative excellence and joyful learning. May the next five be even better!, Robert Becker Entrepreneur, Director, Designer, Producer of Adult Learning.

This is the Five-Year anniversary of Totem Learning Limited. Five years is a high-water mark; four years is like the River Styx,  as any small business owner knows.  The future should be very bright for the serious games market, because we all need to get better at our game, and playing serious games is probably the only way to lure us out of our comfort zone so we can learn. Ann Rutledge Founding Principal and CEO, R&R Consulting.

Happy 5th Birthday to the team at Totem, still smiling after all the trials of 2017. Good Luck for the next 5 years” Judy Lambourne Senior Business Advisor Innovate UK - Enterprise Network Europe  Midlands.

A birthday is a time to reflect on the year gone by, but to also set goals for the upcoming year. Totem are working on an incredibly exciting and groundbreaking new approach to serious games which we will be unveiling in the not too distant future. We will continue to work with our excellent partners taking our products and services to the global market and move into some exciting new sectors.

But for now we would like to take this opportunity to thank all our wonderful supporters including our investors, our staff and of course our clients. Without you we couldn’t do what we do.