Day 2: Singularity University (Original Post by Andrew Joy)

A Singular Experience

Posted on 20th November 2014 by Andrew Joy

[This post originally appeared on 2Bit Studios  and has been reposted with permission]

Today was a good day. I should have known that any day that involved a visit to NASA (Ames Research Centre) would give me more than I bargained for.

Pascal Finette
Pascal Finette

It began with meeting Pascal Finette of Singularity Univeristy. Singularity University is a startup accelerator program that focuses on solving the ‘big problems’ with the world, from vaccine spoilage in third world countries to fabrication in space. Their campus at Ames is full of complex gizmos and forward-thinking entrepreneurs actively trying to make the world a better place, and Pascal Finette manages it all.

It was during one of Pascal’s presentations (he has a lot, and even some videos) that things started to click. Development has been moving along at an O.K. rate with good-enough outcomes in sight, and until then I was happy with that. Then Pascal broke that belief. I’ll give you a brief rundown of his 10 ‘requirements for a startup’, and why we were breaking them all:

  1. Better

    We need to make ourselves known. If we aren’t making a product that differentiates-from and improves-upon the rest, why should people buy it? We’re making a zombie game as one of our first games, and while I stand by it as a good learning experience that exploited the skill-set of our team, in hindsight it wasn’t the best design for gaining visibility.

  2. Faster

    Speed has long been a problem for us. This is partly due to personal commitments on most of our team members (study and otherwise), but is also because we use low-efficiency practices. Smaller teams spend less time in meetings and more time being productive, which is the opposite of our current structure.

  3. Louder

    We have no marketing presence. Simple as that.

  4. Explicit

    When someone asks me what our games are, I can’t rattle off a description in under 30 seconds describing each one. I should be able to do it in 5 words. Satirical Action Game with Zombies. Action Pogo Stick Battle Game. Fixed.

  5. Focused

    Our company has plans for other ventures (such as Mercenaries and Sages). This is a good thing, but the way to go about it isn’t. Too many of us get distracted by non-game related discussion and details, when it could easily be handled by one or two people. A focused work environment means less stress for everyone.

  6. Networked

    Halfbrick – prepare yourselves.

7, 8, 9, 10. Smarter, Resilient, Ignorant, Relaxed

So I lied, I think we actually have the last four covered. I think there is room for improvement (too much relaxation, not smart enough), but if there isn’t room to grow it’s time to get into a different field.

Before I sign off, I’d like to throw out a huge thanks to Startup Catalyst. Without them, the closest I would have come to NASA was with Kerbals. The trip has been great so far, and it’s only looking to get better and better!

Learning something new feels great, and I can’t wait to act it out. Today was a good day.

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