First Steps in Disguise: Failing a Pitch (Twice!) Can be the Way Forward

“Working with other entrepreneurs at Startup Weekend, I realized that what they were doing and how they were doing it were the same things I’d been doing, too!”

Owen Morris came up with the basic idea for his location-based mobile game, Arg Zombies, while deployed in Afghanistan.  At that time Owen didn’t describe himself as an entrepreneur or a game developer.  He had experience in digital content and 3D animation but had never built a game from scratch.

After returning to the US Owen found Startup Weekend online and attended Startup Weekend San Francisco in August 2011.  Owen pitched the bare bones of his game idea, however, the pitch failed to grab the crowd’s imagination and he was unable to create a team.

Owen says of his first Startup Weekend experience, “Startup Weekend San Francisco was great because it showed me what it was going to take to get my idea off the ground, and it showed me that I had important skills to the bring to the table… as well as where to go to find good people when I didn’t have the right skills.”

Finding a group of people who were builders, innovators, and creative thinkers was powerful stuff.  Before Startup Weekend, Owen knew enough to know what he didn’t know; after Startup Weekend, he was introduced to a whole set of tools, thoughts, and people who were working on similar problems in similar ways.

After his experiences at Startup Weekend San Francisco, Owen decided to try the waters again, this time at Mega Startup Weekend in Palo Alto in September 2011.  The event was organized around 3 verticals, one of which was gaming.  Owen pitched Arg Zombies but again, was unable to gather a team around this idea. He says, “I’ve since worked on my elevator pitch, and tried to learn more about how to talk to people about a big idea like Arg Zombies.”

Despite the fact that he didn’t work on Arg Zombies at either Startup Weekend he attended, Owen still found value in events, “I learned that I was beginning a lean startup company, which was an important thing to realize.  After learning more about lean startups, and what I should be doing as the team leader, I started putting my energies into better places and really looking at the bigger picture and the longer term. It’s helped me move forward immensely.”

Since Startup Weekend Mega Owen has been hard at work on Arg Zombies.  He’s staying in touch with Aaron Cammarata of AJC Games, who lead the team that won the gaming vertical.  H is, as he says, “trudging” forward with Arg Zombies, and has welcomed a full time product manager to the team.

On March 1, 2012 Arg Zombies will launch on Kickstarter.

“If our Kickstarter campaign goes well enough that we can finish development our game engine, maybe we will be able to start developing more titles, and really bring our startup out of the garage! We are very optimistic about the future!”

Learn more about the game here and be sure to check out the Arg Zombies Kickstarter page here.

maris@startupweekend.org'
by Maris