Cooper DuBois wants you to step out of your real world and come into his for a few minutes a day. How’s he going to do it? He and his team at Double Down are creating fun, social gaming environments where everyone can take a spin around a casino and share the fun with their friends. After a long career in game design, Cooper has found the perfect intersection of passion and success - and it’s only getting better.
If you ask Cooper DuBois what roles he fills as co-founder at his growing gaming company, you’ll get a long list of titles. “Cheerleader, mascot, art director, the guy who loses it in meetings,” he says, and the list goes on. A jack-of-all-trades on the Double Down team, Cooper has seen it all.
Cooper DuBois attributes much of the success of his team with the people on it. He encourages other entrepreneurs to “take a chance on people, have some trust, and develop friendships”. He reminds anyone who wants to make it big: “Don’t stay in your box.” Taking chances is key if you’re going to create something big. (8:20)
How do you know when you’ve got a hit game on your hands? “If you like the game you’re making, that’s great. If your mom likes it, then she loves you. If your friend’s mom likes it, then it’s a good game.” (12:00) Double Down wants to create a fun, sensory environment users can have a great time in and escape the everyday, even just for a few minutes.
Cooper thinks the future of gaming lies in the social space. The Triple A game companies are “digging their own graves,” he says, by sticking to one formula that works and producing sequel after sequel. Double Down designers love the excitement of creating social games fast and trying a little bit of everything (and taking some risks too!). (13:47)
Cooper’s favorite thing about Double Down is the team of people he works with. He proudly tells Jeff, “We hire great human beings”, and it looks like that will take them far. What does he see down the road? “We’ll still be here, we’ll be bigger, and we’ll be a well-oiled machine.” (22:08)
Jenni Hogan, KIRO 7 Traffic/Social 7
Jenni Hogan wants to change the way you interact with news - and the way it interacts with you. With a vision for connectivity, communication, and entrepreneurship, Jenni is working with her KIRO news team to evolve the conversation between people and information. What lessons has Jenni learned along the way, and what’s she up to next? Find out in this social-media savvy Nextcast.
Jenni Hogan doesn’t just want you to watch the news, she wants to have a conversation with you about the news. Turning the one-way, “outbound” communication of the news into a two-way interaction is what she’s all about, and she loves the possibilities “With your iPad you can design the news you want,” she says. (2:11)
Keeping an open mind and being ready for anything is how Jenni stays on top of the best ways to innovate. Be ready for “things that come out of the blue” because that’s where the game-changers are, she explains. “Be open to letting the community create what’s next.” (9:30)
Who is Jenni’s hero? Anyone who can “jump,” she says. What does she mean? “People who are trying and failing; they’re not secure, but they’re following their dreams.” A KIRO entrepreneur herself, Jenni thinks anyone trying to make something new happen (no matter what) is worth admiring. (17:14)
KIRO’s viewers have a platform in Jenni - and she likes it that way. “My audience is everyday people,” she says. “My people are powerful. Together they can be huge; they voice is amazing.” (21:55)
Jenni loves the possibilities of social media to connect everyone from celebrities to the everyday news viewer. Her goal? “Empowering people to give them a voice. If there’s a way to use technology to empower people to have a platform, a lot of people have something great to add, but they don’t have the spotlight,” she says. And if Jenni has her way...we won’t be waiting long for that spotlight to arrive. (23:45)
what the future of media will look like; want to connect with more people through the power of the Internet
2:11 traditional ways to connect (TV) vs. 2-screen way to connect -- traditional has been one way, now with your iPad you can create the news, design the news you want
4:30 “I crave it, I love it” I have so many screens open at once; we can’t fake it - as a journalist, you have to be yourself and so is finding the right online personality
9:30 looking for “things that come out of the blue” “be open to letting the community create what’s next” experimenting requires open-mindedness and seeing what possibilities may arise
11:31 embracing the world failure “if you walk in the middle of the road, you’re more likely to get hit by a car going either direction, so jump in a lane” quote from mom; keep putting your idea out there until someone says they can help you achieve it
13:05 “just be you” tried to look/talk like other anchormen, but what I tried to change (accent, clothes, smile) are why she’s successful
15:27 try to give myself an hour of “no computer” time
Marc Barros, CEO & Cofounder at Contour
“I was supposed to be an accountant,” says Marc Barros, who’s now the co-founder and CEO of Contour, one of the fastest-growing technology companies in the Pacific Northwest. He set out to solve a simple problem (find a way to shoot high-quality video while skiing), and is now leading a team and learning plenty along the way. What are the biggest lessons he’s learned? What technology would he get rid of “in a heartbeat” if he could? Find out in this exciting new Nextcast!
What’s Marc’s secret for founding such a successful company? Well, he stumbled into it. “We wanted to solve our own problem,” he says, explaining that he and his friends sought a better way to shoot video while skiing the slopes. He found something he was passionate about and strove to create the best product he could.
To Marc, the foundation of your company is everything. It comes down to asking the right questions, he says. Instead of asking “what do we have to offer?, he suggests thinking this way: “why does our company exist?” Having a core set of values and vision will always lead you in the right direction. (3:13)
Marc says all of his success has been tied to one mantra: “Don’t give up.” That, and constant self-reflection and feedback. You’ll save a lot of time if you can take advice from a trusted source.“I appreciate when people give you the honest truth because it saves you a lot of time,” Marc explains. (7:40)
“I think the best entrepreneurs have a gut instinct,” Marc says about running a successful startup business. Learning as much as you can and bringing on investors and advisors to keep you on track is always good, but listening to your instincts can be your secret weapon. (10:50)
We haven’t heard this one before! Without hesitating, Marc asys, “I think email’s the worst. I’d get rid of it in a heartbeat.” (12:40) He maintains a good work-life balance by never checking email on his phone or when he’s trying to take time off from the office. (6:13)
“I was supposed to be an accountant”; skiers who wanted a simple way to record video while we skied
passionate about something, wanted to solve our own problem, stumbled into it
3:13 foundation - “why do you exist?” rather than “what do we have to offer?” - focus on values that drive hiring, investor relationships, etc
6:13 don’t check email on the phone, on weekends, after work - unplugging and getting outside
8:46 “I appreciate when people give you the honest truth because it saves you a lot of time!”
9:30 “the only constant is change”
10:50 “I think the best entrepreneurs have a gut instinct”
12:40 “I think email’s the worst” “get rid of it in a heartbeat”
15:36 “a profitable company could have a positive impact on society” how do you build things that are
Paul Thelan didn’t mean to become a CEO. But after an illness brought his life into sharp focus, he decided to quit the job he thought he “should” have and build the career he knew he wanted to have. From that pursuit of passion, Big Fish Games was born.
Now, Paul runs a 10-year-old company of over 400 and is hoping to keep growing his team and breaking down barriers in the video game industry. What’s up next? A video game launched directly into the cloud, where it can be played by any user on any device. (Not too shabby.) Driven by a love for his product and intense focus on his customer, Paul says the sky’s the limit in terms of what he and his team at Big Fish Games can do.
(1:56) “I never considered myself an entrepreneur,” Paul says. In spite of that initial doubt, though, Paul is still running his “accidental company” several years later, and couldn’t be happier to have finally chosen to pursue his passion. A lifelong gamer and programmer, Paul explains, “You’re handicapping yourself for success” when you make your passion your job.
(4:35) Paul’s secret to Big Fish’s success is a finely tuned understanding of his customer and his data. You’ve got to “balance analytics with true understanding of what customer needs are,” he says, explaining that you can’t ignore the real world in favor of data. Understanding your customer’s motivations should be your top priority at all times.
(5:38) Culture is another thing Paul keeps intense focus on at his growing company. “I have a lot of ideas,” Paul says. “I’m an idea guy.” And he leaves it up to his team to decide which ones are good. “I encourage my team to keep me honest,” he says, adding he encourages them to “prove my ideas wrong.”
(12:22) Paul credits his whip-smart team with helping the company achieve so much success. “What made us successful versus a lot of our competitors in the same space is that we had a very, very intense focus on doing one thing and doing it very well.” He adds that product and customer are king: “Intense focus on the product, and intense focus on what the customers are saying about the products.”
(13:08) Paul’s advice to other startups? “Work hard but have fun while you’re doing it.” Oh, and maybe invest in tougher phones. Citing the struggles and frustrations common in a young startup, Paul mentions that more than one phone met a violent end in the early days of Big Fish Games. These days the office phones can rest easy, though. Big Fish Games isn’t going anywhere.
“passionate gamer, programmer, game developer, hobbyist since I was nine”
2:00 “never considered myself an entrepreneur” “little bit of a mid-life crisis” finding out what my passion is and pursuing it “the accidental company” had enough money to start, and “two years in realized it was a real company”
5:00 “balance analytics with true understanding of what customer needs are” understand customer motivations - real world + what the analytics are telling you
6:00 encourage my team to keep me honest, prove my ideas wrong (I have a lot of ideas)
9:10 “realizing that being stressed out and doing what you think you should be doing is not a great way to live” - “handicapping yourself for success” by doing what you love 10:00 “I didn’t mean to start a company”
12:45 “what made us successful vs a lot of our competitors in the same space is that we had a very very intense focus on doing one thing and doing it very well” “intense focus on the product, intense focus on what the customers are saying about the products”
13:25 “work hard but have fun while you’re doing it” 14:25 “being able to build a game and get it on any platform anywhere in the world” - launching a cloud gaming service - “we can launch a game in the cloud and stream it to any advice anywhere in the world” phone, pause, pc, play Big Fish Unlimited
15:45 relying on another startup for your revenue - build tougher phones story
“The watchword for the last couple of years has been big data,” says John Slitz, CEO of SpaceCurve. And the problem with big data, he adds, “is it’s big.” That’s why Slitz and his team are working on technology that makes understanding and applying that data possible. After a long career working with marketing, data, and understanding user behavior, Slitz is hoping his team at SpaceCurve can make the most of the new technology available today to make life better for individuals, companies, and even the government.
John Slitz thinks that his team is onto a big idea that will transform our ability to process the huge amounts of data created today. And not only will the technology work, but he thinks they can turn a profit doing it too. “That’s the key to things; if you can make things easier, faster, and cheaper, you get something that really takes off in the economy.” (8:00)
What excites Slitz most about SpaceCurve’s work is not their current projects, but the possibility of projects he cannot even imagine yet. He is waiting for the day that someone walks through their office door and wows him with ingenuity. He explains, “The thing that excites me the most is the ability to take this fast flow of social data and look at that in terms of other types of data.” (9:00)
“I always thought that people who have a clear goal of what they want to be are really blessed,” says Slitz. His path wasn’t always so sure. He graduated college in a recession and took 70 job interviews before getting a job selling typewriters at IBM. “It was the only job I could get,” Slitz says, though he adds: “It was probably the luckiest thing that ever happened to me” since it led him down the path that brought him where he is today. (10:20)
“The hardest thing about being a manager...is once you’ve hired [the best people] to let them be the best,” Slitz says. He adds that he is working with some of the smartest people he’s met in his career, and he has had to learn to trust them when they make decisions he doesn’t have expertise in. “You have to trust the people that you have to do the right thing.” (14:00)
Slitz wants to remind leaders: “movement is better than stagnation.” Making a decision is always better than pushing something off for later. “Think about things in the terms of momentum,” he advises. And that’s exactly what he and the team at SpaceCurve are doing: moving into the future of technology. He explains: “Everybody’s got a cell phone, and everybody’s taking pictures. And when you can look at all of that, immediately coordinate it, and derive...actionable intelligence from that, whether it’s a marketing campaign, a promotion, or an intelligence or military or police operation, the world is a completely changed place.” (24:45)