Weeks 1-5: Starting out

Week 1

So, first off, we actually joined the accelerator program to help another guy deliver his travel app. Week one he announced he had a job, and in effect asked if we could do all the hard work and make him rich. Hmm…I don’t think so.

We did the research, and found out there wasn’t much of a market for an app designed to help you drive on the correct side of the road. I mean, just follow the damned car in front of you?! It’s that, or you win the Darwin award you deserve.

So, we spoke to an amazing mentor called Simran Gambhir, and he said “do something you love, otherwise the next 12 weeks will be hell for you”. Wise words indeed, it would have been hell.

Week 2

For the second week of the program we considered our options, and given our passion for video games, there were two main choices:

1. Make a video game, which was so damned tempting, but would be tough given we had no team in place.
2. There was an idea I had a while before joining the program about validating games. Basically, as an independent development company we’d had trouble finding focus testers, so crowd sourced focus testing was the idea (and crowd sourcing is something of a buzzword).

Given the time pressure to make a decision, and the lack of a game development team, we went for the focus testing option.

Week 3

Week three we had the first wave of mentors. It wasn’t great for us; we’d only just decided what we were doing. We didn’t have a company name, so we had to stand up and pitch our business as a two-minute pitch based on “the company with no name” (without being as cool as Clint Eastwood). For the mentors, it must have been weird, we had an idea on a napkin, and so they really couldn’t give us much advice.

One bit of good news for week three was that we spoke to one of the guys on another team, Jono Birkett from Memtell, famous for his rapping skills and ability to come up with cool names. We explained our business, and he asked “Is it scalable?”. I replied “Insanely so!”. He said, “Well, you will probably hate it, but I have a name for you…Insane Gorilla”.

I blinked at him… Had he listened to a word we’d said?! But, given we were considering really dull names, like “We Focus Test Games”…ok…not that bad, but pretty bad. We decided to give it some thought. By the end of the day we’d fallen in love with Insane Gorilla!

The next day we spoke to Luca Hohler, the talented young artist from BrokenArmsGames, to ask him to design our Logo. Again it didn’t really fit the brief we gave him, but it grew on us, and has gone down well with everyone since. Probably the best comment we had on it was “it looks like Homer Simpson in a gorilla suit”. Genius!

Week 4

Week four we integrated some of the feedback from the first round of mentors, and prepared for the next wave coming in week five. We also worked on the business plan, and thought about some more services we could offer. So, we had focus testing, and we added in expert testing (an expert in code, art, design or audio giving constructive feedback on the game), as well as mentoring (someone like me giving advice and support to young teams), plus recruitment services.

Week 5

By week five we had a much better two-minute pitch, and we had a name to go with it. The week with the mentors was amazing; each new mentor added a new perspective on the business plan, or another service that we could add. According to an insider, they’d never seen the mentors so unanimously positive about a business on the program – pretty amazing given we were basically a three-week-old business!