VC pitch number three

2010 June 30
by Dave

Time to add a third arrow to your quiver of startup ideas to lure a venture capitalist into buying you a swank lunch. You start out by complaining that your wife has been slacking off on the housework because she’s been playing too much Farmville. Throw that out there in such a way as to get the VC to chime in that he, or someone he knows, has the same problem. Then you mention that you’ve been working on a little something that should fix the problem. Drop a few hints and then lay it all out over lunch.

Farmville is a successful member of a very old genre of online game. These games revolve around resource management and use, along with skill tree progression. There is always one game resource that slowly accrues over time and is required to do everything. The games are set up to encourage you to play them once or twice every day, but not for too long.

The pitch idea revolves around a natural fit that is like peanut butter and chocolate. Start with an existing online to do list management application that has an api which allows other programs to send and receive data, like Remember The Milk. Next create a game of the Farmville genre described above, but have the time limited resource be doled out based on tasks completed.

The game will work best amongst small groups of players that know each other. That is really the only way to keep me from posting a todo for myself to clean the fish tank when I don’t have fish. The ideal player group is a household, or work team where every one has an explicitly defined, and verifiable task list. It will have a very light footprint time wise and implement a focused set of game play mechanics and reward cycles designed to encourage players to knock out one more action item before they go home for the day.

There will need to be several different games that are identical mechanically, but differ in context, competitiveness, and platform. You might want your kids to play a game with castles and dragons on a closed web site that has it’s task list built in, but you might want your work team to have a small LinkedIn application that pulls from a project management application like Basecamp, has a more abstract context and looks less game like so that you can more easily pitch it to the execs as productivity enhancement.

That should be enough info for you to throw out to get your VC engaged in giving feedback and ideas to improve your business model. Hmm, I haven’t actually mentioned any thoughts on monetizing a project like this yet. Consider that your homework. I’ll give you an awesome hat for your avatar if you come up with something good.

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