This week marks the one year anniversary of leaving my job to start my own company. I almost can’t believe it’s been a year. In some ways it feels like a few months, and in other ways it feels like five years. Either way the first year has come and gone and I couldn’t be happier about where we’re at and what I’ve personally been able to learn.
I originally left EA to start a big rig truck advertising company (seriously). A close friend works in the trucking industry and it turns out there are millions of trucks driving across America with completely white sides and no advertising. While the idea wasn’t the coolest thing in the world, working with my friend sounded like it might be. When his circumstances forced him to drop out, the task on my own sounded neither fun or appealing.
I worked for two months pitching to anyone that would listen. I met with friends in the gaming industry, I sent out a hundred pitch decks, and spoke on the phone with a lot of angry truckers. After it all I realized that I had a product no one would buy, and something I could care less about selling. Bad combination.
Through an almost fluke circumstance, I began doing new media consulting for someone I’d known in college. It was basically my same job I had at EA, only I worked less hours and was able to pay the bills. This led to me pitching and winning consulting contracts with multiple companies including Palm, EA, Ubisoft, and others.
Watching startups build products was by far the most rewarding experience I saw. Here were guys putting their heart and soul into products they were convinced would succeed. I decided to figure out a way to jump in. Interesting enough, building my own digital products/expereinces was my original goal before leaving EA. I just didn’t believe I could solve all the problems around getting there. Slowly I started to see how to breakdown and solve the process.
In February I launched MeetorDie.com with a friend. The idea was based on a problem I’d had with EA’s massively ineffective meeting structure. During meetings of +15 people I would calculate roughly how much each person earned per hour and how much money EA was wasting. It seems other companies have a similar problem as we had over 10,000 bad meetings calculated in the first week. We gained the attention of the internets with sites like Techcrunch, Mashable, and Lifehacker all singing our praise.
The day after the iPad unveil, I had a meeting with an angel looking to do some iPad/iPhone game development. We brainstormed ideas and ended with a play on the classic tabletop game paper football. In the console gaming market (XBOX360, PS3, Wii) the Sports category is the largest segment at 12%. So why is the iPhone/iPod Sports category closer to 5-6%? I believe there just aren’t any good touchscreen sports games worth playing. Nothing that suits the iPad/iPhone platform.
At the end of March we began development on a game called Steve Young Football. It’s a hybrid of Paper Football meets Plants vs. Zombies. It’s the anti-Tower Defense game where instead of trying to defend the the castle, you are defended and must break through. It stars 2-Time NFL MVP Steve Young. We’re nearing the end of development and getting ready to launch.
If one year ago today you would have told me we’d be launching an iPad/iPhone/iPod game staring a former MVP athlete I would have said you’re crazy. But after 9-10 pivots I know we are where we should be. Hopefully next year I’ll write another post marking two years since leaving and featuring results 10x what we were able to do the first year. In the meantime, quit your job and join/start a startup! I highly recommend it.
Look for my post later this week about the top 100 things I’ve learned in my first year.