Pokémon Go is an augmented reality game developed by Niantic and released this month (July 2016). It is a new location-based game mostly played on the mobile phone.
Players use the device's GPS and camera to capture, battle, and train virtual creatures, called Pokémon, who appear on the screen as if they were in the same real-world location as the player. The game is free-to-play, although in-app purchases are advertised for additional gameplay items.
Reviewers praised the game's concept and its built-in incentive for players to be more active in the real world. It has been credited with popularizing location-based and augmented reality gaming.
Despite mixed reviews and some controversy it attracted for contributing to accidents and becoming a public nuisance at some locations, it has quickly become one of the most used mobile apps, being downloaded by more than 75 million people worldwide in less than a month. This is the dream of many new startups, a flow of customers who love and advocate for your products.
I am spotlighting Pokemon Go because The Social Experiment Facebook page had an interesting video about the 20-year journey of John Hanke to develop and launch it the game. (video link is no longer available.)
The story of the product and founder drove home some key points that I see a lot of new founders and entrepreneur miss, or conveniently forget as they develop their business. I’d like to share my observations and 5 key strategies you can adopt in how you approach your business journey.
Business Strategy #1 - Follow the signs:
Chief Game Creator, John Hanke went through a development process that started in 1996 while he was in college. He had the idea and was working in its direction until it was the exact right time for this launch. He has the maturity of the gaming market, the right technology, and development partners working in his favor! One key learning here is to keep working on your project, keep honing your market, your idea and your partnerships until the time is right! If you can remain committed to the vision of inevitable success, it will happen. However, it often takes time and a combination of forces for your ideas to develop into their highest forms.
Business Strategy #2 - Trust the process:
Be on your own timeline and don’t be in too much of a rush. John Hanke helped to develop Google Maps. This technology was essential for the current version of his game to be as interactive as it is today. Pokemon Go is available across most of the globe. It made news in Russia just a few days ago. Can you embrace more patience in your current venture? Where are you trying to skip the process? I often see clients who want to work on scaling tactics before they have a solid business foundation, this often leads to burnout and frustration long before they start to see the results they envision.
Business Strategy #3 - Develop the right partnerships:
John Hanke knew he couldn’t do it alone. The game’s reach and impact is bigger than him, but he was the seed and genesis behind the concept and its chief ambassador. By partnering with Google, Pokemon and others, he was able to have a large mass appeal, leading to 75 Million downloads in less that one month! That is the power of partnerships. Who can you partner with to have greater success or appeal to new markets?
Business Strategy #4 - Cultivate a ready market:
Pokemon Go shows how ready people are for virtual reality games and to be part of a new movement. They are literally willing to chase Pokemon into the streets. The game is a combination of digital space and real space through the mobile phone. It’s the ultimate combination of virtual reality. Launching new products and services to this level of success and engagement requires a ready audience who will be your early adopters and advocates. Be sure to start building your own community and movement or leverage key partnerships as John Hanke and his team did with Pokemon Go.
Business Strategy #5 - Stay open to new possibilities:
You never know when you might be in a position to ask for and get $25M from the perfect partners to help you launch and build your business reach. However, the fact is you can’t get funding until your idea has traction. Having traction shows that you have a viable product and will reduce the risk for your investors. Before you start asking VCs for funding, save yourself the stress and bootstrap it until your product concept is validated. Do what you need to do so you are sure you have a viable product and a ready audience of customers and engaged supporters.
What can you take away from the path and success of Pokemon Go to help you build your venture to its next level?
Will your business play a defining role in what’s next for Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence?