IRL Gaming, mentoring, Mike Cannon-Brooks, Niki Scevak, small business, small business finance, start-up, Startmate, tech industry
Startmate Winners: IRL Gaming: Matt Brennan - Interview
Startmate winners: IRL Gaming
By Oliver Milman
Last week, StartupSmart reported on the unveiling of the five tech start-ups that will be taking part in the inaugural Startmate program.
The scheme provides $25,000 in funding to each start-up along with ongoing mentorship from the likes of Mike Cannon-Brooks and Simon Baker.
StartupSmart speaks to four of the successful applicants, minus a publicity-shy fifth start-up, to get the lowdown on their ideas, what they hope to get out of the program and their lofty ambitions.
1. Matt Brennan, co-founder of IRL Gaming
Can you explain what the concept behind your start-up is?
It’s a location-based mobile gaming platform that we can build games from. It’s basically Mafia Wars meets Foursquare with gameplay like World of Warcraft.
The first game we are working on is based on zombies.
Yes, that’s right. You have to search venues to find food and medicine. If you check into a café, for example, you get attributed for that.
You can search the venue for a weapon, which can be as silly as a spatula or something like that. If you run low on health, you physically have to go to a chemist or hospital.
You don’t move a character around the screen – where you are impacts the game. It uses GPS. There is an in-game economy too, so you can pay to ‘cheat’. You can convert real money to upgrade weapons and health, or buy a zombie to attack a friend.
The app is free and we have to get our head around the charging. We plan to just get people using it first. We are starting it out as an iPhone app but we are planning an Android and Facebook version too.
What opportunity did you see for this?
We felt that everyone was suffering from check-in fatigue. We thought we could add gameplay to the check-in process to give it a purpose that was fun. This engages with consumers in a way that hasn’t been done before.
Who’s behind the business?
There’s me, Daniel Eyles, Henry Cho and Chris Spicuzza, who is a designer who lives in the US. Daniel and I worked together at Yahoo! I’m a front-end developer and he’s a back-end engineer, so we had everything we needed.
We were going to develop another app, but it was becoming such a huge idea we realised it would take a lot of time to do. We spoke about it over dinner and the idea for the game platform was born in September last year. We started writing a spec straight away.
Will you tie advertisers into the game?
In the game, you need stamina. The easiest way to get this is energy drinks, so there’s an obvious tie-in for products like Red Bull. We are very conscious of business integration in the game. We are trying to line up partners to approach at the moment.
Why did you get involved in Startmate?
We were surfing the web and found out about Startmate. We ticked every box and thought we had a good shot at it.
The most important thing for us is to draw upon the experience of the mentors. Money helps, of course, but we need guidance on getting VC funding. When it comes to building the app we are fine, but we need to develop the business.
We’re really looking forward to working with people like Mike Cannon-Brooks and Niki Scevak.
What are your ambitions?
We plan to launch the game by the end of April. We can develop other games for the platform – such as a mafia or medieval themes.
If we could get 20,000 users by the end of the year, we’ll be stoked. The most important thing is it get it out there as soon as we can.
We eventually want to get numbers like Foursquare, Gowalla and MyTown. That’s four million users within a couple of years.
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