Chicago Child’s Play

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Recently I’ve had the good fortune of being involved in Child’s Play for the first time ever. Child’s Play is a game industry charity dedicated to improving the lives of children with toys and games in a network of over 40 hospitals worldwide. My friend Sachin Agarwal of Dawdle.com organized the event. Through my connections with Midway Games, Sachin was able to get Midway Games to donate over $1000 worth of video games for the charity event held on December 10th at Plan B bar. Child’s Play is a gamer’s charity event and as such, we held a gaming tournament for the new Midway fighting game: Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe. The #1 prize was a PSP game pack – a $250 value.

Turnout was really good. We had attendance from friends of Dawdle as well as a pretty strong Roundarch showing. Fun times were had by everyone. Marcel Walden of Roundarch won the tournament. Sachin got really drunk. I lost round 2 to Kim. Good times.


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The event was a great success. Dawdle was able to raise over $700. One thing I wasn’t too happy about was that Plan B had a $1000 minimum on the bar. That might be fine for normal circumstances, but 1) this was a charity event and 2) it was a blistery snowy Tuesday night. I doubt they would have made $500 w/o us showing up. I think we could have easily saved $1000 and thus donate more had we gone to another place.

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“Crossing the Chasm” Book Review

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I think this book was recommended reading on a Y Combinator blog post. Described as a marketing book for engineers, I quickly jumped on this one on Amazon. This book aims to help you take your product from the startup phase across the chasm into the consumer phase. The misconception that entrepreneurs must realize is that the early adopters are a different type of consumers than the majority. Success in one market does not necessarily lead to success in the other unless different tactics are employed.

To be honest, the beginning of this book was pretty dry, and I wasn’t sure that I was going to get through the book, but it does get better. My interest in the book quickly increased when the author Geoffrey Moore gives the D-Day analogy of introducing products to the mainstream:

  • Goal is to enter and take control of the mainstream market that is dominated by an entrenched competitor
  • Assemble an invasion force of other products and companies
  • Immediate goal is to transition from early market base to strategic target market segment
  • Between us and the goal is the chasm
  • Force competitor out of target niche market
  • Then move out to take over additional market segments

That pretty much summarizes the points in his book. I really like his analogies. One that comes to mind is his statement that numeric data is like sausage – meaning that once you know how it’s made, you can’t quite every use them again. His belief is that most numeric data is built on assumptions that are built on assumptions like a house of cards built on more houses of cards.

One thing that really resonated with me was – make products easy to buy vs. easy to sell. You are trying to convince the customer of buying, not yourself of selling the product. Seems like common sense, but that’s not how most engineers think.

To Moore, it’s all about positioning your product. The key is to occupy and solidify the space inside the target customer’s head. You have to be just one thing to the customer or else he won’t remember it. By this he means that if you try to be too many things, the customer cannot remember it. Think about all the major brands like Nike, Coke, Apple. Those brands really only embody a few if only just 1 single thing in your mind.

One thing to keep in mind though is that this book is a bit dated. It talks about companies that may or may not have fared so well after the Internet bubble burst, but I think the theories are just as applicable today as they were 10 years ago.

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