Casual Connect Europe: GameStick creator PlayJam on funding 'hopes and dreams' with Kickstarter

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Casual Connect Europe: GameStick creator PlayJam on funding 'hopes and dreams' with Kickstarter
Given GameStick – the Android powered micro-console – hit its Kickstarter total within 30 hours and stands as one of the platform's biggest successes in the games and technology field, creator PlayJam's view on crowdfunding is well worth seeking out.

Just as well CEO Jasper Smith was on board to give his take at this year's Casual Connect Europe in Hamburg, then, billing Kickstarter as a tool perfectly designed to feed a growing appetite for crowdfunding amongst entrepreneurs.

Hopes and dreams

"People who go on Kickstarter are backing dreams and they're backing hope," said Smith, who watched as his GameStick project hit almost $650,000 in pledges within its 31 days on the site.

"Kickstarter is a pretty extraordinary network. 5 million people have pledged through Kickstarter – it's an unparalleled platform for angels, and there's a huge amount of appetite for games and technology."

Smith said what surprised PlayJam was how quickly the Kickstarter community "takes over", although the organisation itself "remains largely silent".

"Within days we'd have thousands of emails – many suggesting changes, some asking what the hell we were doing. We had no idea about the power of that community."

Indeed, success on Kickstarter poses its own problems.

"Suddenly people wanted to know what we were going to do next once we'd hit our goal. They were asking for 'stretch goals' – we didn't even know what stretch goals are."

As a result, the company had to fundamentally redesign parts of GameStick in order to meet the wants and desires of its backers.


Nonetheless, Smith describes GameStick's run on Kickstarter as "one of the most rewarding experiences of my life."

"We had spent six years building a games network for TV and building partnership with every major technology company that makes television sets – 60-70 million households served. But we couldn't control the environment."

"We wanted to create our own device to take advantage of the massive shift towards Android that's been happening over the last few years."

One of the other benefits derived from the GameStick experience has been the ability for PlayJam to then branch the technology behind out to its existing networks and partners.

"One of the things you'll see is the technology in GameStick popping up in other devices," he concluded, pitching Kickstarter as just one tool a company can use to spread its business, rather than the be all and end all.

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.


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