Here comes the Dragon. Get your pitch in!



I am very honoured to be invited back as a dragon at Nordic Game 2013 Live Pitch Event.  It was so much fun learning about the very best  startup and games talent from the Nordic Region. Last year’s winners Boldai were acquired by Linden labs after their win and well deserved too. I am very excited to help another fantastic company on their way, along with a great team of investors and experts.

This year and I would love to see brilliant Irish companies compete with the best European has to offer. Get your applications in by 12th of April to  and Very much looking forward to meeting you at Nordic Game. Good Luck!


Nordic Live Pitch Session – Dragons declared

Nordic Game is pleased to announce the 5 dragon investors who will judge the finalists at the event on Thursday May 23rd in Malmo:

These are:
Paul Heydon of Avista Partners, Doug Richard an original investor dragon from the UK TV series, Ian Baverstock of Tenshi Ventures. Mary Carty of Spoiltchild and Justin Stoltzenberg of European Games Group

These dragons have a mass of experience with helping start –up companies, have all been mentors to start-ups and all are potential investors in projects:
Paul Heydon and Ian Baverstock have an intimate and hands on experience of the games business and investing in it, Justin Stoltzenberg and EGG invest in marketing, and distribution of games, and help put the finishing touches on your online games. Mary Carty is an experienced and sympathetic mentor to creative businesses.

Doug Richard is offering 3 places to attend his ‘School for Start-ups’ in London in September 2013 with travel paid, to competitors who enter the Nordic Live Pitching session. Doug Richard is playing a key role in the UK government’s enterprise strategy.

All the dragon-investors will be available in the Pitch and Match area for meetings, and will prioritise the companies who dare to pitch. Last years winners Boldai and their game ‘Blockworld, were recently acquired by Linden Labs.

How to compete in the Nordic Game Pitching competition:

Please submit a one page document summarizing your project to  and

Deadline for submissions is April 12th.

The one pager must outline a) what problem the project solves b) the investment proposition c) the principals in the team and their track record, d) the investment needed and e) how it will earn investors a good return on investment.

The pitches can be for game projects, tech or internet and digital business propositions.

All submissions will receive feedback from the Games Capital team, and 3-5 will be chosen to take part in the final on Thursday May 23rd.

All finalists will be offered additional analysis and feedback from the Games Capital team, and help with preparation of their presentations.

Further information, prizes and benefits will be released shortly.

For more information please mail


Image thanks (c) Morten Skovgaard

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Is Lean For Creatives?


Back from my trip to Malmo last week and reflecting on my Buff keynote speech and workshop with twelve amazing companies at Media Evolution City. One thing really struck home; opening yourself up to new ways of doing things is very hard. If we want to try new things; then we need the tools to do so. As well as that; we need examples, case studies. We need to learn from a diverse range of voices and experiences. We need to have conversations beyond and outside our cosy circle. And most of all we have to SHARE.

New things are hard. We get blinkered, doing the same things, the same way all the time and often shoot the messenger when new possibilities are communicated. But by not looking up and sounding out new ideas, opportunities are missed. Seeing what other industries have learned and how this might help you, is very worthwhile. The big idea from the past week in Malmo is to try. Try, try, try again. Test your ideas and your assumptions and learn from the people who matter the most; your customer. We get so involved with our vision we forget the person we are communicating with.

So many companies are actively redefining and disrupting every conceiveable type of business. Take for example Machinima, a platform built harnessing YouTube’s distribution and broadcasting potential, showcasing fan generated content, films and animation. The smartest step for them business wise, was not building a platform. Instead, Machinima concentrated on the core, their community and great content. Machinima wisely left the distribution vehicle to a platform already built and serviced by Google, YouTube.

Business is all about making smart and strataegic decisions, knowing your user and knowing your core business; that golden nugget. The rest is history. Machinima have conquered the 16 -35 year old male demographic in nearly every country. Now large studios send exclusive trailers and material specifically for Machinima’s audience to build buzz and traction for new releases.

Business models can be borrowed and tested. Learning and practice from one industry might just save or reenergise your own. Companies like beActive thrive in this testing, tweaking world and use multiple platforms for different projects and audiences. They never fully commit to a platform unless the audience is there. beActive have many years experience doing this; coming from a wish to tell stories in 140 characters. This practice has produced amazing results from Sofia’s Diary to Beat Girl.

Innovation and taking chances are where it is at. One constant is change. Maybe it is time to test some things. Bring your film idea, business idea or animation sketches out into the open and talk to your target market. As a good friend once said  “never underestimate the value of pizza and beer”!  Over a coffee many things can be discovered. A few testers and a few conversations will give insight and value beyond your wildest dreams.

No, it does not have to be perfect. Nothing in this world ever is. Perfect is not the goal; learning is. Making it better is. Getting to a better product or service your user really WANTS is the objective. Yes it is scary. Yes, your idea might be taken. But if you execute on your idea faster and better than your competitors; along with having a committed, energetic community, you get to market first. Simple as that. The more you take on these lean practices, the easier it is to do them again in the future.

The challenge now is to bring this methodology out of tech and into the creative world. If games companies, SAS companies and healthcare companies can do this, so can creatives.
From my workshop with a cross-section of industries, games, broadcasting, app developers, communications, non-profit, film makers and product designers, it is completely possible to put these strategies to work. In every case last week, we saw amazing benefits from working through some case studies and applying this thinking to each individual business.

I am back in Malmo for Nordic Game in May and the challenge for these twelve companies is to put the workshop into practice. A follow up session is planned and I’ll report back on their progress. For me this work begins and ends with the customer. Solving the customer’s problems and making everything we do better.

Most of all, I’m excited, very excited. There is a sea change happening all around us and it is fantastic to be part if it and leading the charge.

My thanks to  Cecilie, Julia and all at Buff and MEC for entrusting me with the keynote speech on Buff’s 30th birthday; it was an honour I will cherish. Thanks to Heidi at MEC for organising the workshop and to the participants for being so open, enthusiastic and positive. Thanks to all for allowing me to bring them on a new journey. I’m still buzzing after both events. Big thanks to Mark who was back at base for help and research. Every business needs a great team!

I am interested to hear your thoughts and experiences, comments and feedback more than welcome!

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Can we Build Lean Creative Companies?


it’s day two in Malmo and this morning after my keynote yesterday, I’ll be facilitating a workshop on building Lean Creative organisations.

The workshop is designed specifically at creatives who are building businesses in the creative sector; games developers, graphic designers, film makers or producers.

Using Lean Startup methods; build, measure, learn, and customer development techniques, the session will equip creatives to better understand their product, their target market, gain more customers and keep them for life. It will give them the tools to ask the right questions; to discover who and where your market is and how to build a product your customers really want.

The workshop will focus on your business idea, addressing three key questions:

1. Do I have a problem worth solving?

2. Is there a market for my service/product?

3. How do I find and keep my customers?

This session will help clarify

– What is your business
– What is your product
– How to test your ideas before you build and launch

Participants will be introduced to Lean Startup tools they can put to work for their business straight away.

I am very excited to share and explore building lean creative businesses with such a diverse range of professionals.

It’s going to be an amazing day.

Thanks to Heidi from Media Evolution for organising this event as part of the BUFF Film Festival.

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New business models and the creative sector


This afternoon I am very honoured to be giving the keynote at the BUFF International Children’s Film Festival. BUFF is celebrating it’s 30th year this year, a truly amazing achievement.

Along with very special speakers, Filipa from beActive, Richard from Tarsier and Ida founder of Crimeville, we will discuss new business models for the creative sector. I’ll be focusing on the big picture; business models that have arrived from the advent of web 2.0, the power of the disruptive entrepreneur and the network effect with an engaged, active community.

Along with this, I will be showing how to go about finding the right model for you using lean methodologies and customer development tools.

It seems right now that every day the ground changes under our feet. The speed and the reach of change is breath taking. However, this constant flux and reimagining offers great opportunities and the internet with all it’s social media tools, gives us a platform to communicate beyond limits of boundaries, countries, and old distribution networks.

At the very heart of this discussion is the user. We can get to the user faster, receive feedback instantly, learn on the fly and change course if necessary.

For creatives there is no better time to start something. Think about your practice as a business and learn ways to make the most from your creativity and all the opportunities available to us.

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Internet Trends at the end of 2012


Fascinating round up of internet trends at the end of 2012 by KPCB. My favourite slide has to be

“Easier for consumers to get what they want when they want. Easier for crafty and flexible people to make money”

Looking at this presentation it is easy to see that there is huge potential in this industry, in fact, in every industry. The levels of smartphone adoption is staggering, so is the level of internet use in emerging economies. Looking at how Waze has disrupted the sale of satellite navigation devices, for example, is a lesson that everything is up for grabs. Instagram and Facebook have redefined and reimagined new ways of engaging with users and solving every day problems at a click of a button.

Three things to remember

1. The internet provides huge potential market along with smart ways to convert them to users
2. Smart companies disrupt and give users what they really want now
3. Design is very important. Connectivity, great design and ease of use makes your product/service a winner.

Top 3 takeaways

1. Everything is being re-imagined, from health care, to learning and services
2. We now have an “Asset Light” Generation – hand held devices help users carry out daily tasks and services at a press of a button.
3. Everything is shared
4. Global internet use is driven by emerging markets.

It’s all about the opportunity folks!

What do you think the next key trends are for 2013?

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A love letter to


Really brilliant post from Ben Davis of eConsultancy today showing how three premier Art Galleries in the UK, Royal Academy, Tate and National Gallery, fare on their website design, engagement and content. Winner by a country mile was the Tate. As Ben notes;

I started writing this post intending to look at some big-hitting art gallery websites and pick out best practice.

The aim was to turn you content marketers green by showing you websites for juicy organisations whose very ethos has always been content, form, learning, information, and which are now trying to adapt and evolve to make some money, too (outside of entry fees and patronage).

You can see this as the exact reversal of, for example, a marketing agency, which stereotypically has always been trying to sell through its website and is now getting its collective head around the idea of information, learning and content as the very top of the sales funnel.

You can read the rest of the article here. Great job eConsultancy!

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This week I received something special in my inbox, an email containing the royalties from my first book. It was a great experience to open the email and know that people liked my book enough to buy it and then tell others about it. And better yet, I get paid for the expertise and knowledge I have built up over many years.

Knowing the information is one thing. Packaging it into a product that users want is another thing.

The three things I learned the most from writing, publishing and marketing my book is:
1. Great content takes time, it takes way longer than you think
2. Great design really helps (I love our little monsters!)

And most importantly of all

3. Build your community before you publish

The third lesson I learned the hard way a while back. A few years ago our design agency Spoiltchild built a cool marketing platform called Toddle helps users create beautiful email newsletters in seconds. Back then, I didn’t know about lean and we built Toddle to solve a design problem – most newsletters we received looked pretty terrible – a “build it and they will come attitude”.

The problem with this approach is, you have to find users when you launch and crucially, you have not tested whether your product solves the problem you thought it addressed in the first place. These two problems together are enough to bring any business to a halt.

From our Toddle experience, we realised pretty quickly that community is key and lean works way better than “build it and they will” come. So when my book was published; we had built a community of engaged users who appreciated and needed it’s information. We built on the community we had already brought together and leveraged it. To build on that momentum, we are about to launch another product, a spanking new email marketing programme specifically for our amazing community.

To sum up, it has been an immense learning experience putting my knowledge to use as products. It’s been fascinating learning how to make this knowledge available to others and seeing how much it is valued by them. Good content is very difficult to find and people will pay for content that helps them improve their business. I believe that productising your knowledge is a very valuable way of sharing what you do and building a sustainable business, no matter what industry you are in.

Questions to consider:

Can you productise your knowledge?
How can you help your users?
How could you save them time and help them grow their business?

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Games Business Interview


Here is my interview with Shareplay at the Games Business Conference where I talk about the opportunity in games, lean for games and best practice. Thanks to Mette Lund Petersen for organising it.

If you want to see interviews from the rest of the conference speakers have a look here

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Games Business 2012 Mashup


Games Business 2012 – Mashup from Shareplay on Vimeo.

Really lovely mashup of talks, workshops and networking over the 2 days of Games Business in Aalborg. Thanks again to the organisers it was a really lovely event.

Video thanks to Shareplay

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Inspiration Friday: Think of the cleaners



This week I had the pleasure of presenting and facilitating business development workshops at Games Business Conference in Aalborg. I had great conversations with Christian from HandyGames, Tobias from StarDoll and James from Many of the of the conversations over the two days revolved around team, finding the right people, building the right culture and not limiting your progress, scale and market by the size of your company.

Later, one of the conference participants talked to me about an experience she had as a 21 year old intern. It brought the whole conversation about team right back into focus and inspired me greatly.

As an intern in a Government agency in Denmark, Anna came in early each morning and greeted the cleaning crew. As the pattern continued, she being early and friendly, the team sharing their coffee with her, something unexpected and wonderful happened.

Her office got cleaned first, thereby changing the pattern of how offices in the whole building had been cleaned for decades. The cleaning crew changed their schedule, a well engrained, habitual habit, to help her out. Pretty nice right!

They did this not because she was the CEO, she was an intern on a 6 month project – they did this because she appreciated them and treated them as part of her team, her valued colleagues.

Too often we take our colleagues for granted. Like Anna’s example, we don’t think of the cleaners, the very people who make the environment and the atmosphere around us conducuet for us to do our jobs.

Anna’s mantra is “everyone counts”. Everyone’s jobs, their contribution, their dedication and their talent. Even if they do not earn as much as others or their ‘value’ to the company is not recognised.

Business owners and CEO’s worry what it will take for their team to change track when business moves in a new direction. We all know that change management is very difficult.

In Anna’s example, a new work methodology developed overnight. It did not cause any stress or any worry. It was done as a practical, thoughtful response – Anna’s colleagues arrived in later than she did.

The question is, did anyone else in the organisation see this lovely gesture and the changed work practice?

Decent human kindness is a very powerful thing. Maybe we all should trust in it a bit more and give a little time, encouragement and goodwill. You never know what great things will happen as a result.


– Be observant
– Give people credit for the jobs they do
– Engender a culture of gratefulness and appreciation
– Find ways to capture everyone’s feedback and suggestions
– Foster ‘ground up’ thinking
– Give your team space to develop and implement their own ideas

Image thanks to Leo Reynolds

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