Ashwin Marapengopie COAD Paper Entrepreneurship
Studentnumber: 2148617 Code: 2259XADV06
Table of contents 1. 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8
Article on an entrepreneur Introducing Kris Boon Interview (optional reading material) Target Market Product/Service Unique benefit Business model of InsideGamer My conclusion My own findings
3 3 3/6 7 7 7 7/9 10 10
2. 2.1 2.2 2.3
Describe your own business model for your (imaginary) own business Community on hardcore music: CrisisCore My business model The kind of entrepreneur I am
11 11 12 13
3. 3.1 3.2
Corporate Social Responsibility Energy, climate & environment Education
14 14 14
1. Article on an entrepreneur It was hard for me to choose an entrepreneur that would catch my personal interest and would be in my reach for a face-to-face interview, because that is how I wanted to conduct it instead of doing it by telephone.However, I did find the perfect match. I met this man during my Internship at the department for Games at Sanoma Media. Sanoma Media is one of the biggest, innovative and leading publishers in Europe regarding both print and digital media. I had the chance to interview …
1.1 Introducing Kris Boon He was the operational manager for the department of Games at Sanoma Media during my internship. He recently left and is now a business developer at the Performance based cluster of the publisher. He started the online community InsideGamer along with colleagues, which grew to be the biggest online community for games in the Netherlands. More than 100.000 members follow InsideGamer wherever it goes. His analytical and business skills impressed me and that is why I think I can learn a lot from this man. He is not just in it for the business part. He really is a gamer and a very good one at that. But he also claimed that he enjoys keeping up with developments more than the actual gaming. The interview will also be good to me, because he knows how to run a project better than anyone. My skills in that particular area are quite flawed, so that is why. We met face-to-face and the interview was recorded with my camera.
1.2 Interview Kris, you can start explaining what your function is exactly. I will try to explain it as simple as possible. I am a manager for Business Development inside Sanoma Media. It has only been a month since I am active in this function. We make concepts for different departments in Sanoma, which are based on marketanalysis and research. We implement these concept by setting up projects and strategies in a period of 3 to 4 months. These concepts are sometimes new, but most of the time it is meant to enhance existing titles from Sanoma, like Startpagina and Kieskeurig. I am mainly resposibly for ‘performance-based’ titles. Performancebased titles help customers to get from point A to point B as a service. It is the opposite of ‘contentbased’, where the sole purpose is to keep the customer on your own page for as long as possible. A good example of these are newssites like Nu.nl. I always work in teams and get several tasks like hiring the right people to help realise these concepts. I know quite some professionals who are in Business Development, but the majority of them are hired for their experience in the field. That is why they are all aged in their late forties or in their fifties. You are considered very young, being 26 years old. That is why I am curious what your First venture was and tell us a little about it.
InsideGamer was my First project and it actually started out as a joke. There were several gamingwebsites at the time and we were convinced that we could do a better job than them in providing news, reviews etc. But we mainly did it because it looked like so much fun to do during our college days. Not because we wanted to make money. It is just cool to write about games. We did not have any strategic plans for the website when we started it. We are just coming to that now. InsideGamer consists of more than 100.000 members, which is pressive. At what point did you noticed that the website really started becoming a big thing? Well, it really suprised us. People really started using Google a lot to find things on the internet in the period between 2004 and 2005.The internet really started taking of. InsideGamer was surprisingly easy to find via Google. For instance, when people were looking for cheats for a game they always ended up on our website. It was al coincidental, but now you see that complete companies are making sure that a website is well found via Google. And don’t forget that the game-industry was also firmly growing back then. So publishers and advertisers also found us pretty quickly via Google and started to consider us as a marketingoutlet.That’s how it went down. Since when did you become part of Sanoma media? We sold 51% of our shares to Sanoma in 2006 with the deal that we would keep the opportunity to make the major decisions on the site. How did you cope with domainnames and hosting in the early days? We do everything via Exonet now, but we did have our own .nl-domain. We also loaned about 2500 euros to buy ourselves a server. The hosting also added a few hundreds of monthly costs to the bill, but we could compensate that with the money we made from advertisements, which were already game-related. We got more advertisers during the year and the ball just started rolling. You founded InsideGamer with three colleagues. Who exacty? Jelle van Es, you know him. He’s the editor in chief of the website. Also Marvin Bestersen, who eventually lost interest and started to work in retail with webshops. And there’s also Jaap Stricker, who also left and now works for Tweakers. We recently had a guest-lecturer who tol dus that you should never start a venture with friends, because working mentalities will start to collide, which could end up disastrous. How do you feel about that statement? It doesn’t really apply to us, because we weren’t exactly friends back then. We know each others work as writers in the game-industry and that’s how we found each other. We became friends later in the process. I actually don’t agree with that statement you just quoted. I do understand it, because you might be afraid to have discussions. Yet, if you are really good friends than you should be able to have those discussion, in my mind. We had some though discussions where we would both end up in anger and wouldn’t speak to each other for days. But in time you’ll realise that you have to sit this through as a team. And in some way it keeps everyone Sharp. Could you give us an example of one of these conflicts? Oh God, it was about really dumb things. It was never about money, I can tell you that. We would argue about really small things, like the postion of a certain button or how an article was build up. It all was because we were so passionate about this that we got into these discussions in the first place. 4
You started this when first attending college. Which type of education did you do in the meanwhile? Journalism. I started out as a freelance writer. I just liked doing that. After a while I went into Sales, because I was always in contact with other managers. So I thought I mght as well start doing that. Jaap did all the technique, Marvin did all the video-editing and Jelle kept working as the editor in chief. So we all had our sector. That means that you only learned from practice and never from studying Sales? Exactly. We really learned this by participating in the action. For instance, I would get an e-mail from a publisher who asked me what we would charge per CPM. Which means ‘one price per 1000 impressions’. That is THE businessmodel for InsideGamer right now. But back then we weren’t familiar with that. So I would get that e-mail and I started Googling it to found out what it meant. So that’s how we bluffed our way through it. When we joined Sanoma we realised that we charged way too low, but we were already happy with what we were making back then. How did you end up becoming partners with Sanoma? They never had a gamecluster within the company. They did have a strategic plan and realised that internet would become more important than printmedia. They also saw that the general interest in games was growing. Sanoma’s whole plan was to find a few gaming-websites of which they believed that they would grow in the next years. We were already growing at the time and that’s why theyeventually reached out to us. As an intern I noticed that some characters or ideas are under fire by a certain amount of members. Does that put you in jeopardy? What we learned from doing business online is that we should not let our decisions be influenced by these certain members. We call them the ‘varifocal minority’. Some might panic and start adjusting things on their site to keep everyone happy, which is impossible. These smaller groups of visitors on the website also look at things very differently than we do and think that things could be better. It’s important to let those comments pass you by. Companies who are going from print to internet often panic when visitors leave negative comments to an article. And it might hurt the first time this happens. Second time not so much and the third time you just don’t care. So the force of having an own company on the internet is to keep doing your own thing regardless of what everyone else thinks. I can imagine that you have made soms mistakes in the past as an entrepreneur. Could you mention a few examples of these mistakes? After two months had passed since we founded InsideGamer we suddenly lost all of our data. All member subscriptions, atricles, news and other content just vanished. And only then we realised that we had to back-up everything we had and that we had to do that frequently. You should actually back everything up every ten minutes if you want to keep the risk of losing content at a minimum. We also once had this advertising campaign that was set to launch. When we were ready to put it to use one of the servers just went down. And then we also learned that we could ask money from the provider when accidents like that happen. 5
The gaming-sites keep on coming because of simplifications. Wordpress and other blogs make it easier to start your own websites. The problem these people stumble upon is that they are not able to create partnerships with publishers and advertisers. Do you have any advice on that? What I see is that these people all provide in the same need and barely know how to differentiate themselves from the grey mass. And it’s also a fact that most of these people work on these websites on the side while working other jobs or attending college, which makes it harder to keep up with the rest. We actually made Insidegamer a priority and did school on the side. I actually took twice as long to finish my education because of it. We frequently sent offers to publishers for a advertisement opportunities and what not. They rejected us nearly every time, but at one point we noticed that a Publisher started to feel a little guilty because of that and then they agreed to do business with us for once. We really gave them a lot of value for their money and that would make them return to us. So you should keep that in mind. What are the DO’s and DONT’S for entrepreneurs in the gaming-industry? I believe that the market is saturated. And there are only three big players in in this field, which are Tweakers, Gamekings and Sanoma with Gamer.nl and InsideGamer. These companies also have full working force to provide the sites with content through the whole day. So a big DON’T is to try to do the same things as these big players. Maybe they should try focussing on niche markets like mobile games or the next-gen consoles. And if you choose to do that, then you should probably make it internationally known and in English. Don’t forget that the whole businessmodel for gaming-websites lies at a tipping point. So don’t anticipate on making instant money wit hit. Pleasure is the main reasing fors tarting your own business. You should first and foremost do something you love and the next step is trying to let someone pay you for doing that. There’s nothing better than to get out of bed every day with a purpose. And last of all… keep learning! It is fun to help someone else with your knowledge. That’s what I am noticing while doing this interview with you, so it’s a very good thing to approach skilled people and literally ask thema bout their business.
The interview went on for 52 minutes and this just one excerpt of it. It would be ridiculous to transcribe that whole recorded interview into this document so I just put the things in here that looked the most relevant. If you want to know more, than you can contact me.
1.3 Target market InsideGamer is the most mainstream site of in the gamecluster of Sanoma and basically focusses on anyone who has a passion or interest in videogames. It covers a lot of ground. From hardcore PC-games to console-fans to casual/mobile gamers. The audience they attract are still the core-gamers for the biggest part.
1.4 Product/service InsideGamer providis their community, consisting of more than 100.000 members, with the most recent info on games. The website has always been focussing on written content like news, personal articles, previews, reviews etc. but there is also a strong emphasis on videocontent. There is always room for an opinion and the community has the power to discuss their views on several topics and even post their own articles in the member-section. It is really a two-way street at InsideGamer.
1.5 Unique benefit The website has a solid image being known as the biggest gaming-website in the Netherlands. And there are several reasons for that besides their swift updates. The do not only give. They also receive. There are weekly video’s in which the news of the week is interactively discussed by employees who are known for their analytical thinking. They give in-depth comments on certain developments and answer questions that are being asked by members. If there are too many questions they will make an additional episode so everyone gets treated equally. The employees for InsideGamer who are displayed on camera are also well known for their stylish sense of humour. This makes for more variety in long episodes and generates sympathy from a lot of users. So the unique benefit in short; knowledge of the industry, in-depth and specific analysis, swift updates and good sense of humour. What’s not to like?
1.6 Business model of InsideGamer When I asked Kris in the interview about the Canvas-model he really dind’t know what I was talking about. He stated once more that he is not schooled in entrepreneurship and sales and learned everythin from practice. So I will try to use a business model that would seem appropriate to InsideGamer.
Overall Business Model Co-creation communities
There is no particular or specific name for this model other than the name I gave it. The CANVASmodel was a little too bland and generic for an online company like this so I did some research and found this to be the best match. This model shows how a smaller company covers a lot of areas with new media. InsideGamer only consists of eight people working regular steady jobs. The rest of the content is made by freelancers whom get paid per assignment. It’s hard to earn enough online for a decent living and this model shows how it can be done. Customers The big plus of having an online community like this is that the customers/users of the website generate a lot of traffic by themselves. They report to a lot of newsbulletins and personal articles. The videocontent is especially popular among frequent visitors. These visitors also give feedback on all the big pros and cons of the website. It’s even remarkable that a big part of the community fills out surveys at their own will. This just shows how passionate these people are about this industry. Offer InsideGamer offers the most up-to-date news about the industry as a whole. Kris stated in the interview that this website is probably the most mainstream when it comes to games. The big plus about that is that no one would ever be excluded. So both hardcore gamers and casual gamers can go over there and get what they need. Being a mainstream website doesn’t mean that they always play safe. They often upload hilarious (video)articles that some people might see as ‘edgy’ statements. And then there’s of course the option to express your own opinion, which could always lead to high octane discussions. We can summarize their offer as; news, personal articles, videocontent, previews, reviews, reports… and of course room for your own input. Infrastructure Everything is done via www.insidegamer.nl . All transactions go via the internet and business is handled from the office at Sanoma Media. The company is developing an application right now so they can publish their own digital magazine for iOS- and Android-devices. Financial viability It might sound too straight-forward to believe it, but InsideGamer’s biggest and most important source of revenue are advertisements. They have their share of loyal clients that generate publicity via InsideGamer.nl. This could be via a side-skin on the site or by related videocommercials. The visitors never complain about that, because it is all related to the game-industry. Sanoma Media offers working offices and possibilities for expanding and innovative development. This all has to be discussed and planned out with the higher-ups but that’s how it works when you are a big part of a Publisher.
1.7 My conclusion The companies way of doing business really impressed me. And I know ho wit all works, because I was an intern over there for five months. The company is successful because they do everything with so much passion without putting the emphasis on making money. That’s how they started and it has been their successformula ever since. I really inspired me. InsideGamer is still innovating and is introducing concepts every few months. They often meet up with all freelancers and employees to brainstorm on improvements. It’s a good and productive process. I personally think it would be even better if the freelancers would get more involved in the realisation of these concepts instead only brainstorming on them. That’s my only point of advice.
1.8 My own findings I personally thought the interview was very inspiring. Kris really gave me a lot of information on doing business and starting something from the ground. I also noticed that he enjoyed giving me advice. So maybe I should ask more questions to different people to broaden my vision even more. The most important thing I learned is that you should only start something from nothing for the fun of it. No one should ever expect to start making money all the sudden or at all. I also realised that the games- and magazine-industry is at a tipping point of technological innovation and that it’s not wise to provide in the samen eed that everybody else is already doing. Keep checking the latest trends and think ahead of the grey mass.
2. Describe your own business model for your (imaginary) own business 2.1 Community on hardcore music: CrisisCore My own business would involve my passion for heavy music. I have played in bands since I was fifteen and I still do. The hardcore community is alive and kicking but does not know where it’s exactly heading. And that’s where my own website comes in to provide these people with input. Target market Passionate fans of hardcore music between the age of 15 and 40. Always curious for new bands and cd’s to check out. Always wanting to know where the hottest bands play the best shows at the coolest venues. Product/service description CrisisCore provides a place where both musicians and music lovers get the chance to say what they have to say. The members/visitors of the site help each other out by giving input on upcoming events or things we need to keep an eye on. We provide content through news, videoreports, interviews and highlights of the genre in the contemporary world today. Our goal would be to upload at least one video-item a day. Unique benefit(s) • • •
Up-to-date content on a particular music-genre that is both specific and very hard to find online Daily videocontent which is backed up with a sophisticated level of journalism and entertainment The opportunity to let your voice be heard and help us broaden our vision the same way we do it for them
2.2 My Businessmodel The business model I chose for this concept is from Osterwalder (2004) and Pigneur (2006). I came across it while doing research and it is pretty straightforward for a community-based model. The four main questions are WHAT, HOW, WHO and HOW MUCH. My product is based on online content and thatâ€™s why this model fits my needs. Customers Fans of hardcore music, webshops, record labels and event organisers Offer A specific community in which all information is shared and open for discussion. We generate new content everyday that is related to hardcore music. Members can connect with each other and discuss various topics in forums. Infrastructure Crisiscore.nl as most important medium. The developments in the world of hardcore music are also accessible via Twitter. Financial viability This website drives on the passion for the industry and is not initially intended to generate a lot of revenue. However, it is quite possible that we would get chances to partner up with other companies that focus on alternative music. So we would have CRM benefits and advertising revenue to back us up.
2.3 The kind of entrepreneur I am One thing that really stuck with me from the interview with Kris is that you should do something for the fun of it, instead of looking for ways to make money. So that’s how I would pursue my own personal endeavors. I would most likely work part-time as an employee for another company and do this with partners and freelancers on the side. The most important thing is that everyone involved should do this for the fun of it as well. If you are able to find people who are willing to put effort in this concept without receiving a guaranteed paycheck, than you already have a loyal team that’s willing to work hard for every milestone. And that’s the type of team that I would want to lead. All the things I mentioned also regard Andre Amaro. The visit in Eindhoven was really inspiring and energising. He also showed that he did everything against the stream just because he wanted to do things his way. I like those morals. Just to be clear; I am not anything like Andre Amaro. But I would probably have the same mentality when starting ventures. So the fun is a priority. After that we can try to make money of it. To summarize Ashwin Marapengopie INPUT ANALYTICAL RELATOR ACTIVATOR DELIBERATIVE
3. Corporate Social Responsibility 3.1 Energy, climate & environment First of all, I don’t consider myself a ‘tree-hugger’. But I wouldn’t want to use materials that would damage the environment deliberately. It’s impossible to be completely environmental-friendly, but I would definately keep it to a minimum. It also fits the world of hardcore music. There are a lot of bands who are into Earth First- and straigtXedge-mentalities. These topics regard saving the planet and taking care of your personal health. 3.2 Education CrisisCore is a logical place to find short clips or documentaries that would cover ground on topics like social movements and historic elements in this music-industry. I would love to interest the members/users of the website for these subjects so they get to know more about the underlying themes that defined the genre. In fact, people who are studying trades like sociology, antropoly or musichistory could use CrisisCore as a solid source of information. Members/users that have something to share themselves could also write articles that could be eye-opening to others.