They say history matters, and they are right. Here is the story of my wonderful failure and the first startup I created more than 14 years ago.
It was beginning of the millennium and the web/browser based games started to become more general. I was hooked with a game called Planetarion. The game was browser-based massively multiplayer online game and the idea was to build, develop create an army and destroy the enemy (Like all other strategy games). Planetarion story is based on space and SCIFI. I’m a big fan of Blizzard games and since 90’s I have been playing World Craft games. This gave me an idea to create a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) like Age Of Empires or Warcraft.
The passion to create the game and make the dream come true took all my attention. Beside of reading for the matriculation examinations and the entrance exams for universities I started to create the game. With no business plan, earning model nor capital, the only goal I had was to create the game. Later the game was named as Emperatur which means “The Emperor” in Persian.
Soon after I noticed that the game needs a good graphics to attract players. The background I had was from the technical side with no skills of drawing nor 3D modeling. Back then IRC was the communication and chat channel to get new friends and socialize in the internet. I started to look for 3Ds Max and Lightwave 3D artists. The funny and the strange part of the story is that I managed to find some few friends who started to make graphics for the game and for free.
As I started my engineering studies in the EVETK University of applied sciences, I asked some resources and hardware from the head of the department and she provided me a storage which I changed it to an office and some old computers which became the hosting server of the game. Soon after I was introduced to a professor with whom we started to think about the business model and marketing strategies. He also provided me some connections for example to Vesa-Matti Paananen (Vesku) who was an entrepreneur at that time and big name in the mobile world. Currently he is working for Microsoft as the Windows Consumer Product Marketing Manager.
One of the problems I met during my startup at the technical university was lack of business skills and knowledge. If I had the time machine to go back and change something I would definitely go to the business department of the university and started to find people with the entrepreneur spirit and also with business and marketing skills. Actually during my second startup I took advantage of my experiences from the first one and grouped up with my current business partners who completes me in skill which were missing from my skills set.
The game got to a stage that could had been a published to the web and I started to look for sponsors with my mentor (Vesku) using his connections. The only sales meeting we had was with the Finnish phone operator DNA, which got in to the pause mode because of the summer vacations and later lack of contact made that sales opportunity the only one and the game never got published to the web with a sponsor.
Currently games like Clash Of Clans of Super Cell is the complete version of what I was trying to do. The success of the game is the right timing for the game and the ecosystems provided by Apple and Google which makes the earning model in a class of its own. Back then the mobile devices were not in the current stage not to mention the internet connections in mobile devices.
Here are lesson learned from the startup #1:
- Technical skills are not enough to create a startup
- You need a good team to operate with, try to find people with good spirit to help you
- It’s all about sales, marketing and connections
- Write down your business plan, make a market research and build the earning model before doing anything else
- Right timing of the service or product is one of the most important factors
- Try to finish the product as soon as you can, so you can get experiences from the users and the market
- During the studies and university life there are more time and good people around you. Try to take advantage of that!
- If you fail it’s not end of the word, lift your head up and move forward