Previously we posted a video of Dan Porter talking about business and the Wire. You can check it out here if you missed it. In this installment we focused on hip hop and social gaming. Dan really knows his hip hop and it wasn’t very surprising. The office setting alone speaks hip hop so its only fitting. We spoke for over 45 minutes on business and hip hop comparisons. This conversation validated his love of hip hop and creating which was full of insights. Lets dive into part one of our chat.
Ghost Face Experience
We knew Dan loved hip hop so we took it to the web and looked him up on LinkedIn. To our surprise there he was with Ghost Face of Wu-Tang fame. The picture came to be due to a visit by Ghost Face by the way. We got into a memorable moment back when Dan was working for Richard Branson over at Virgin USA. He was able to book them for a music festival in Baltimore where he was able to hang out with the crew on stage. An experience that we would all love.
So back to the picture, Dan was talking to various artists about building out their characters for games and such but Draw Something became so big that they had to put things on hold. What was intriguing about this story was the lessons that he passed along to Ghost Face and vice versa.
Ghost Face “wasn’t super into technology, but he was really on top of everything going on in the technology world.” Ghost Face did what all smart entrepreneurs do, he started asking Dan questions after questions about why he would do certain things. He wanted to understand why Dan wanted to give away a game instead of charging $60 like video game makers do. Dan let him know that this was not a cartridge you buy at a store. The mobile world was different.
Dan put some Ghost Face music into a prototype of the game they were discussing and took to the net. He recruited late teens and people in their early 20′s to come to the office to play the game. He verified his beliefs that even young adults recognized the Ghost Face brand. A little bit of customer development can go a long way! He now knew that artists of any generation could potentially sell currency or goods in a game. Ghost Face represented mainstream America in regards to mobile. He told us, “if your not a big smart phone user you don’t have total visibility besides seeing some kids wearing angry bird stuff or playing the games.”
Dan loves to teach, and he took this opportunity to talk to Ghost face about the mobile world. He explained that the goal was to create a free game and have people make in app purchases. Dan knew that there was an opportunity in mobile.
Dan likes to focus on lowering the barrier so anyone can get into a game. The best way would be to offer it free so price wouldn’t be an obstacle. This way he would get more users, but could also add a social component to the game in which they could expand through. It didn’t make sense to him that others would create a high pay wall barrier. He told us “so you don’t pay, I can never play with you, that doesn’t make sense to me.” He saw it as an opportunity to get more people onto a game so he could drive revenue and show that there was value there. He didn’t want people to purchase the game then head home and regret it. This way everyone would win.
Seed Investments in Hip Hop
As we spoke about other topics we started to shift towards the music, which was intriguing. We asking Dan if he could identify an artist in hip hop that reminds him of the startup world mentality. He quickly identified Kanye and Eminem. He compared them to seed investments and demos days.
Dan went along to say “Kanye and Eminem end up having people they work with and their seed investment is that they let them rap on one of the songs they have.” This is a chance for someone to show what they can do. He spoke about how Snoop took advantage of his work on Dr. Dre’s album The Chronic . It was Dr. Dre’s seed investment but it was Snoop’s demo day. To Dan, Snoop’s demo day was his work on that album and he nailed it. Many squander the moment so seize the opportunity and swing for the fences. Just remember to set your self apart from the rest.
There are many ways to structure your business and Dan Porter suggests being creative along with originality. Dan spoke about how 50 created a business around his mixtapes by being original, this took him to the next level. Draw Something and 50 had lots in common when it came to creating a unique market place. This new market place was interesting and people wanted to tell each other about it. Dan told us “Draw Something really was successful because it was different.” If you say something different people will hear it. Dan gave an “I am hip hop” type of quote that should be on a wall. He said “I Don’t want to be Dan Porter, the guy that was awesome at copying ideas.”
That last statement led to a Kanye chat that was really dope, which we will include in our next chapter of our sit down.