Monday, March 21, 2016

This Post Is Definitely Safe For Work

A couple of days ago, we wrote about a marketing campaign we were running on food sites. We were pretty pleased with it, because it checked all the boxes of a successful growth hack – the ads got us lots of eyeballs, millions of clicks, a bump up in online orders, and all at a ridiculously low cost.

The response to the campaign was largely positive. People said we were ballsy for trying this at all, and that we broke new ground for doing this in a country where food has long been a touchy topic. But there were a few things said that we simply couldn’t ignore. Some folks got offended by the campaign, felt the campaign was in poor taste, and it wasn’t something they expected from a brand of our standard. Some also said that all food is not legal, and by advertising on food websites, we are financially supporting abuse – certainly something we don’t want to do. Ever.

Over the past almost eight years now, we’ve worked really hard to build what we’ve built. And while we’ll be the first ones to admit that we aren’t even close to perfect, we can confidently say we’ve always stood for doing what’s good and what’s right. We’ve focused on instilling the right values in our people – values we live by every day – and built our own unique culture along the way. We feel honoured when we’re told that we’ve set an example for young companies in India to go take over the world, by doing what we do and proving the naysayers wrong. In short, we have a lot to live up to.

Like we said earlier, this campaign was almost textbook ‘startup’ marketing. But we’ve probably reached a stage where it’s fair to expect that even if we’re doing what we need to do, we do it in ways that are more ‘grown up’. We understand that we owe it to ourselves, and to those who’ve helped get us to where we are, to set the right examples and convey the right messages. That isn’t to say that we’ll crawl into a shell and stop doing what’s needed. There will be growth hacks and marketing campaigns, and they may or may not be everybody’s cup of tea. But we will also be more mindful of the boundaries we’re playing inside.

For a start, we’re killing the food site campaign, because we sense we crossed the fine line between marketing irreverence and cultural insensitivity. If we did, and ended up offending or disrespecting anyone in any way at all, we are sorry. That obviously wasn’t the intention, and we’ll work on doing things better in the future.

It's Kind of Games that People will Play for Years

An important part of our original product vision was also the idea of building cross platform gaming services – games that you could log into and play from any device. But later on, our thinking on this changed completely. If you continue reading, you’ll see why. In short, today we believe that the best quality can only be achieved by focusing on one platform at a time.

That’s what we were thinking when we got started back in May 2010. Our initial funding came from the founders investing their savings into the company. On top of that, we borrowed as much money as we could from Tekes, the Finnish government’s technology funding arm. Our first office was in Niittykumpu in Espoo, Finland. It was pretty far from Silicon Valley, but we had everything we needed: one 30-square-meter room, six desks we got from a recycling center, and of course a coffee maker. A bit later on, when we started to hire more people, we managed to fit 15 people to that little room. At some point there was no room for our CEO Ilkka anymore, so he had to move out.

Our first game was called It was a real-time massively multiplayer online role-playing game. Remember, our original vision was to create cross-platform gaming services, so the idea was that one day players would be able to enter the world of Gunshine via desktop web, Facebook, tablet and mobile. That said, we had to start from somewhere, and the most logical place was the platform with the widest reach. And at that time, that platform was desktop web and Facebook, so we started to build the game on top of Flash technology.

We managed to launch the private beta version of Gunshine in February 2011, and the open beta launched a few months later. We also started to plan a mobile/tablet version of the game. At its peak in the summer of 2011, Gunshine had around half a million monthly players.