Not every day do I get to brush shoulders with young intelligent brothers who are both ambitious and passionate, and above that willing to take risks. Ever since meeting such a person by the name of Anthony Frasier, I have been proud to have a close representation of what it means to build a brand. Together with some of the other staff members of The Koalition, we have taken many risks and participated in many failed projects. In many ways Anthony Frasier serves as a close source of inspiration for me whenever I have doubts. Whenever I speak to him he has the power to instil a new wave of motivation inside me.
Anthony Frasier is one of those people who knows what he wants, and has enough passion to find it. He’s one of those people who have the knowledge and the eye to pick up on things that others may not see. Many a time he has pointed out a specific thing to me, such as what the future of a gaming company may bring; and many times he is correct. He possesses the foresight to see what the future may bring, and thus help himself and others around him build towards being a part of it.
Over the course of 2011 our very own Koalition co-founder Anthony Frasier has been working towards building and releasing his video game related mobile app Playd. He spent the whole summer in the Tech Capitol of America Sillicon Valley, participating in the NewMe Accelerator. He has recently been featured on CNN‘s Black In America, TechCrunch, and a number of other popular publications.
Today I had the great pleasure to interview our resident entrepreneur regarding The Koalition, the NewMe Accelerator and of course his mobile app Playd.
Many of the Koalition readers recognize you as one of the founders of the site. Can you remind us how this all came together, and why?
The Koalition came together when me and a few guys including you Gary, got sick of playing the sidelines for gaming news. We felt we had a perspective, and something to say that the world should hear. So instead of spending our time posting things from their sites, we kind of all decided we could do this on our own. The Koalition was born.
Would you say The Koalition was fundamental in learning how to build a brand, or did you get that knowledge elsewhere?
Yes and no. The Koalition was very fundamental in learning how to manage a brand and a product. It has taught me lessons and gave me experience that I can surely say I wouldn’t be here without. But going outside of my own experience and learning from others was just as vital. So reading a ton of books and blogs from key individuals was just as effective in my growth. My work with Bubbalon also taught me a lot about partnerships, and business development. I credit a lot of the things I learned in that time to Todd Hamilton who was sort of a mentor at the time.
How much did running The Koalition help you to get where you are now?
The Koalition played a huge part. I always wanted to be apart of the game industry in some fashion. But when we started The Koalition it exposed me to the business side, and sure some things are not so fun about the gaming industry, but for the most part people enjoy everything about it. The Koalition taught me you can make a business out of your passion.
So tell us how the idea for Playd first came about.
Well the idea first came about when I was 8 years old. I played my uncle’s brand new Nintendo. Me and my brother had to sneak and play it because my uncle was afraid we would break it. I got so excited about playing Tecmo bowl that I went outside and told everyone I knew about my experience. Eventually my uncle found out and I got in trouble. But what if it was somehow the other way around? What if instead of getting in trouble for my big mouth about gaming I could get rewarded? So the concept has always lived inside of me.
I got together with Alex Galkin who just got off his stint with Bubbalon and we kind of put it all in app form. It wasn’t until Alex did a little mock up inside Photoshop when I felt like this could actually be something real.
How did you end up on the NewMe Accelerator?
I saw Wayne Sutton tweeting about it on Twitter right around the time we started Playd. I ignored it a few times, but something told me to just do it eventually. I sent my pitch in right before the deadline and got through.
How much did you learn over the course of the summer at NewMe?
I learned a ton. It’s one thing to read books, read blogs, watch videos of individuals working on start-ups and talking about their success. It’s a whole different story when you’re living right underneath all of that magic. You could be in Palo Alto next to a multi millionaire and wouldn’t even know it. Everybody is real laid back and ambitious.
It’s so much that learned that it’s almost impossible to answer this question with a simple statement. I think my best bet is to help contribute that knowledge over time in blogs, and meet-ups and while also continuing to learn myself. I used to always hear it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. My new saying is that its whats you know and who you know.
Were the cameras nerve racking for you?
At first it was a little weird. Then I got used to it over time. My problem was staring at the camera and laughing. It was just funny to me sometimes how they really try to capture conversations you may be having with someone.
For some, building an app and presenting it on the Appstore seems like an easy feat, can you tell us how much work actually goes into building an app like Playd?
It could be easy, every situation is different. Do you know how to code? Is the problem you’re solving big? Are you more business focused? My road to Playd was a mix of everything. I knew how to code but very basic so having people on my team who knew how to do a better job was essential. I knew how to design, but mobile UI isn’t the same as making banner so Alex played a huge part in that role. Figure out your weaknesses and fill those gaps in.
How did it finally feel to launch the app officially after all that preparation?
It felt great, but always look at the glass half full. I felt like it was only the beginning, and all the hard work starts now.
What analogy would you give to those critics who don’t understand that an app like Playd is never really finished?
Hmm thats a good question. I don’t really have analogy. I would say that people shouldn’t think we are ever finished iterating the product. We can make changes and enhance different features when we see fit. We so far have received some great feedback. More positive than negative. But the negative feedback I try to really dig in and see what about my product I can do to make it better for them. I take a very different approach than most. Some critics are really surprised they get an email from me or message via Facebook. We have a discussion about how to make things better and they’re whole opinion is changed about Playd. My goal isn’t to change opinions though, its to get to the bone of the problem. so that I can make it better for others who may feel the same.
What do you see for the future of Playd?
I see Playd disrupting the way gaming brands engage with their audience. People are only seeing the beginning of what we can do with our platform. We are working on some pretty exciting partnerships. Stay tuned.
Where do you see the gaming industry in five years?
I see the game industry having continued growth. Its a great time to be a gamer, competition is at an all time high. Mobile, console, PC are all competing for our attention. Its forcing platforms and software to take more creative approaches. the gamers benefit n the end.
I know you to be a real deep thinker, are there any other ideas in your head that you want to act on anytime soon?
I have a real passion for music and film. I have some ideas that are floating around and even some that are fully written and specified on paper. I have a new lab I formed with partners George Youmans and Mack Bonthera called Radian where we will explore some of these ideas. Obviously that’s on the back burner for me at the moment because 95 percent of my time is on Playd.
Let the people know where they can keep up to date with you and Playd.
you can download the app at www.playd.it and email me firstname.lastname@example.org I look forward to hearing from you guys.
You can also follow Anthony on Twitter @AnthonyFrasier