Now let me talk about the HackBoxes – the term for HackFwd companies. .
Let me start out with a company I put into the dead pool only 9 months ago. DeltaStrike a company producing a universe as a platform for many games and writing their own game in this universe. Well 9 months ago I saw the first prototype and asked the 4 founders – in no uncertain terms – why they thought that someone should play their homemade stuff when other gaming companies invest 100 people into the same kind of game and you could see that. Since then they have completely turned around. I have rarely met a team that can handle criticism so well and actually take the content and base a decision on feedback and their own vision of what they want to do. The team has grown, mainly with passionate partners and other contributors and their game is one of the show off applications for the new Adobe 3D environment. I am not a hardcore gamer, but I think their new idea has potential and the way they dealt with really HARSH feedback gives me every confidence in this team.
Also DeltaStrike is an impressive example how being on the edge of technical development can push a business ahead of the competition and of how the combination of creativity/art and technical skills allow for a flexibility single talented teams cannot show easily and an enterprise IT could never achieve.
Then I want to talk about Fantasy Shopper (quoted on twitter as the next facebook by someone from the British government). Well everyone at HckFwd loves the idea of shopping in shops you know with stock they actually have without having to spend the money but still with getting all the feedback and chatter involved with great shopping.
Originally this game – actually it should be called platform – was intended for teenage girls, but the first test showed that all of us seem to be a potential market for this kind of application. But I am getting ahead of myself. Fantasy Shopper is an virtual shopping environment that models its virtual shopping arcades after real location – i.e. if you go fantasy shopping in Exeter, UK (where the team is located) – you will find shops that actually exist in the real world Exeter with stock they actually have in the real world shop replicated in the fantasy universe. You can shop with fantasy money (the virtual currency) and stock your wardrobe and combine your acquisitions into outfits. You can then share your newest trends and fashion ideas with your friends and get into a lot of conversation, feedback loops, trend setting experiences and so on while doing so. To make the shopping experience more goal oriented Fantasy Shopper has created contests, where you have to e.g. create an outfit for a special event with a price limit. Obviously this sounds like great fun for every shopoholic, everyone interested in fashion and everyone who wants to get the feedback from their friends and peer group before actually spending the money. There are so many possible business models for Fantasy Shopper that an amazing case – always on the assumption that they can achieve a sustainable user base – can be built. The potential in popularity and the business interest from stores, fashion magazines and the ad industry is obvious and a first beta shows that the user interaction is even better than expected. Now the only question is when this brave new world will be online and live for the public. This is what everyone at HackFwd has been urging the team to do: PUT IT ONLINE. And I think we have succeeded in convincing the founding team that there is no point in making something 200% before giving it to the market. I hope we will soon all be fantasy shopping.
To me Fanatsy Shopper is also a great entrepreneurial story. The CEO actually posted an ad in the newspaper to find his CTO and together they applied (and were obviously accepted by) HackFwd. But that is not all. The entrepreneurs behind fantasy shopper also live on the bare minimum in order to use the budget available to them exclusively for developing the company. This is the spirit we are looking for and this is the spirit the big successes are made of. Connected to the passion is the ego and stubbornness to create a perfect solution and we all had a hard time to convince the team to get it out into the open, but as I said Fantasy Shopper will be available soon.