Startup adviser Peter Relan, who founded the YouWeb and 9+ accelerators, wants to challenge game entrepreneurs to take their skills and apply them to new markets. He thinks they’ll find good results, because they have lived through the disruption of the gaming business and can apply those lessons to disrupting broader consumer services markets.
Relan set up his new accelerator, 9+, last month and he has broadened his focus from the social game startups that he knows very well to more markets. Now he’s looking at the mobile app, infrastructure, and wearable computing markets. And he thinks that game developers can apply their skills to this new frontier by focusing on what they’re good at.
Relan is seeking tech innovators to put through his nine-month program in Silicon Valley for training entrepreneurs, giving them $110,000 in funding and building new companies.
Relan’s incubator YouWeb spawned mobile and tablet game companies OpenFeint and CrowdStar. Now that he has moved beyond gaming, and he misses the skills of game company leaders. He has still received plenty of applications for 9+, but he recognizes an unmet need in the market.
The game industry itself went through a huge cycle of innovation and it’s now getting harder to get funding for new game studios. Many developers might be poised to leave games and seek out new opportunities. Relan wants to encourage them to do that.
Game developers are suited to meet Relan’s challenge because of three characteristics. Game makers have to manage a “user acquisition funnel” for user growth, often called “growth hacking,” where developers have to closely manage their outreach to new consumers and convert them into paying users. Relan also believes that game entrepreneurs can use big data and analytics to develop the ideal free-to-play products that engage and monetize users. And Relan said that game developers have learned how to operate “lean and mean” companies that compete efficiently against the status quo.
“I love these game entrepreneurs,” Relan said. “I am trying to get them motivated to do things beyond games. I want them to move on to create and fun consumer services. Consumer services are going to go through a massive innovation cycle.”
The 9+ accelerator has closed $2 million in funding and it is in the midst of signing up its first class of entrepreneurs. The deadline for applying is Aug. 31.
“Let’s change the app ecosystem and move away from the app assembly line,” he said. “I invite game developers and product professionals to take what they’ve learned from building mobile games, to become founder-CEOs, and re-imagine the way consumer apps are developed and monetized.”