Its really wonderful and humbling at the same time to see how communities can be formed spontaneously from game worlds like the ones we at eRepublik Labs all contribute to crafting every day and see them become something much bigger than just a game.

For me this makes all our efforts very worthwhile, much more than DAU’s, MAU’s, day 1 retention rates and DARPU’s :).

Crafting game worlds is about giving others a catalyst for fun and community. Thanks to the Erepindo community for reminding me of this.

Watching this from Boston for a game world created in Bucharest http://www.eRepublik.com that has helped foster somehow this great community in Indonesia.

I don’t understand a word but they do seem to be having fun!

A few days ago I was contacted by David Garzón for his excellent project comotrabajan.com that has tens of interviews of various start up CEO’s and execs where he asks them: “how they work”. I have decided to translate it to english since many of the people I work with don’t speak spanish and I realized that this was a pretty good guide to understanding… how I work and why.

You can find the original post here. I have made only minor corrections and adjustments to the original by David below.

I am Alexis Bonte CEO of eRepublik Labs and this is how I work.

“There are people who have to fight for their success. Alexis Bonte is one of these cases. Born in Paris he grew professionally in the UK, France and Italy and based himself as an entrepreneur in Madrid. He has quite a unique modus vivendi and is always looking for ways not to waste time so he can dedicate his free time to his family. Personally I am delighted to be able to read about how he works.” David Garzón

Trajectory:

Co-Founder and CEO of eRepublik Labs (crafting game worlds), business angel (Zonga.fm, Trilulilu.ro, TjobsRecruit.com, etc…) and Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum (Davos). Before eRepublik Labs, I was 6 years in lastminute.com in various roles: Marketing, Business development and Managing Director of the Italian business. I am half French half Portuguese and little Russian Armenian (from everywhere really), married to a Spanish wife from Cadiz and have 3 kids.

Locations: Madrid and (about 4 days per month (Bucharest)

Mobile: Iphone 5s and Galaxy 4

Laptop: Mac Book Pro

Twitter: @alexisbonte

“…success depends 99% on having the right people…”

What do you do on the first hour of a normal day at work?

When I am not travelling (about 10 days per month), sports at our office gym. We have a personal trainer that comes most mornings and is free for all the members of the team. I live in the same building where our spanish offices are, so I usually hit the gym around 8h00 or 8h30 every morning.

“… Sports in our office gym”

What are the apps or tools you can’t live without?

Gmail, Gcal, Google Drive (we have the full team on Google Apps) as well as Trello, that we use for all our projects. Google Maps as well because I hate not know ing where I’m going when driving. And finally our own internal tools to check the sales and KPI’s of our social strategy game world eRepublik.com live.

What is your favorite workspace?

The office. We strongly believe that the work space is very important, so we have invested in it with nice common areas like a bar, home cinema etc… We did something similar in our Bucharest studio with access to a terrace, games area, ping pong table etc..

Madrid Studio:

Bucharest Studio:

What music do you listen to whilst you work?

I don’t listen to music whilst I work, I find it to distracting. It is a little ironic, considering I am the chairman of Zonga.fm, the musical streaming solution for Vodafone (for now, in Romania but extending to other countries)

What is your best trick to save time?

Living above one of my offices. At the beginning I was afraid it was crazy, but it is one of the few ways I have to compete with other entrepreneurs who only live to work. I am 37 years old and have a family, I am in period of my life where I need to have a life outside of work, so I need to save as much time as possible by avoiding things like transports. Very often I will leave my office around 20h, take the kids to bed and come back around 22h to finish what I have to do. I am 1 minute away door to door so its easy to do.

“…living above my office.. is one of the few ways I have to be able to compete with other entrepreneurs who only live for their work…”

How do you handle your task list?

In this I am very classic. I have a small moleskine for each month, with 1 page per day, where I write own all my tasks for the day and tick them as they get done. I have tried all the digital solutions but this is still what I prefer.

What is your worse trait when working?

“Multitasking”, right now I am answering this interview, checking emails and finishing the projection on our next game, Tactical Heroes

Tactical Heroes tips web

Apart form your mobile and computer, what other gadgets are essential to you?

An iPAd, I have two with me, a mini and a air.

What was the hardest in your first steps?

Having to do almost everything by myself and the fear to fail. When I arrived in Madrid, I came from Milan, where I had a team of 120 people in a consolidated start up (lastminute.com). In Madrid I did not know anyone, apart from my wife, Jimena. I started alone in an office in calle Almagro. It was a bit of a culture shock. Luckily I met fantastic people like Martin Varsavsky, that helped me meet other people and enter the ecosystem.

Once you start building a team, the hardest part is to find ways to make that team be the the best possible team. This is even harder when you are in three locations like us (we have 2 game production teams in our Bucharest studio, one  in our Madrid studio and a finance & IP team in our Dublin HQ). This is very important and goes with the culture of the company, we invest in people but we need to also be firm with team members that don’t perform well. This is still our main challenge, working with the best team we can.

“…once you start building a team, the hardest is to make that team the best one possible…”

How would you describe your style of leadership?

One of my main values is fairness, I am approachable and friendly but not a “hearty dude” that just hangs out for a beer. I am demanding with myself and the ones I work with. We are not in this to just participate, we are in this to create the best company we can. In our case this means crafting the best games we can with a positive financial outcome and building the best possible team to have a “great company”. This is super difficult, and due to that I can be a little intense at times. I also try to delegate as much as possible in the areas where we have experienced people that perform, but I can really get into details in areas where we don’t have people with sufficient experience or where the results are below expectations. Basically, I adapt my leadership style to the needs of the moment.

“.. we are not in this just to participate, we are also in this to create the greatest company we can…”

What important lessons did you learn by creating and leading a company?

Success depends 99% on having the right people, at the right time, in the right place, jointly working on the right things for the company. Of course, you almost never have this situation of a perfect team, even less so at the beginning. So the most important thing I have learned is that you build this step by step, with lots of tenacity and with an eye on the bottom line so you don´t run out of money.

What advice would you give to a future entrepreneur?

Go for it or at least join a start up learn and grow for a few years with it and then go for it.

How do you deal with your mistakes?

I feel bad for a short moment, analyze it, then do the necessary correction as fast as possible and I move on to the next thing. I do a lot of mistakes, I believe it is better to make a mistake you can learn from than not taking decisions or risks. If you don’t do this you don’t progress.

What is your routine to disconnect from work?

My family, jogging in Casa de Campo and skiing on the week ends that allow it.

Fill in the blank space below:

I would love to see my friend and mentor Brent Hoberman answer these same questions

What is the best advice you have received?

“It’s time you go for it again and start another company” (My wife Jimena when I was starting to feel very comfortable in lastminute.com)

Is there something else that you would like to tell our readers?

We are all different, what works for one most likely won’t work for you. But if you are entrepreneurial or want to be, there are three rules that apply to everyone. You have togo for it, get the best possible team and be very tenacious.

And if you want to join a truly great adventure in the world of video-games, we are always looking for talent, so send us your CV to hr@erepubliklabs.com or got to eRepublikLabs.com

By @benedictevans.

Worth checking out if you are interested in this space.

Happy new year :)

As some of you know one of my most recent investments is Zonga, the leading streaming music service in Romania a spin off company of Trilulilu.

Zonga launched in October of last year and in less than one year it has already become the streaming music service for Vodafone Romania and received an investment from the same company. It also won several awards and as you can see from this info-graphic it is gaining some nice traction.

Zonga also recently launched a much-improved Android version (the previous version was its weakest point) a few weeks ago that I really invite you to try if you have an Android device. Being an avid user of both Spotify and Zonga, I was impressed to see that the Zonga Android version actually feels much better than that of Spotify. But then again Zonga also had a browser version well before Spotify.

Now that Sergiu Biris and his team have gotten the Zonga overall experience to the quality level that they wanted, its time to expand. The quality of the Zonga platform and its full service for the lowest cost approach has generated lots of interest not only in Romania but also abroad.

This is why we are looking for a chief commercial officer to join the Zonga team and fully run the commercial side of the business so that Zonga can capitalize on these opportunities.

So if you are a senior results oriented commercial person with experience in doing large business development deals at the highest levels with multinationals as well as capable of working with the operational teams of these same companies and account manage these relationships for maximum results, please get in touch.

We can build a very good package including stock options for the right candidate.

You are results oriented, entrepreneurial, pro-active, and super driven, a “closer” with great account management skills and understand the opportunities as well as risks of working in a start up (this is a hands on role and fast results are expected), get in touch, this is an incredible opportunity for the right candidate.

The job will be based in Bucharest with frequent travel to Cluj (where the product team is based) and abroad for business development.

Tks,

Alexis

To apply, please send your CV and a short motivation letter of why you would be perfect for the role via email to: jobs@zonga.ro

eRepublik recently celebrated its 5 year anniversary in style with a players summit that gathered 350 players from around the world in Bucharest. The summit was also followed by over 14.000 players via a live streaming supplied by one of the players! You can see more details about the summit in one of the info-graphics below.

sumit infographic

And finally to celebrate our 5 years, the team came up with this other cool info-graphic comparing the new world of eRepublik with the real world. Personally what is most impressive for me is the fact that the eRepublik.com community wrote in 5 years over 1,1 million articles. That is equivalent to 10% of the complete New York Times articles archive. The New York Times is 161 years old.

erepublik 5 year anniversary

If interested you can also see my video address to the summit attendees below. The production values have nothing to envy the famous kixeye recruitment video, we even managed to get 2 helicopters vs their 1 helicopter.

I was pretty excited a few weeks ago when Trilulilu, the company where I am chairman and one of my largest angel investments, soft launched its streaming music service Zonga.ro with Vodafone! We also announced that Vodafone had taken a 15% stake in Trilulilu´s music subsidiary Trilulilu music. This is a huge vote of confidence that a company such as Vodafone would make such a move and select a Romanian company to offer a music streaming service to its customers for the first time worldwide. This is great for Vodafone who gets a great service for its customers and also lots of goodwill by showing that it has the vision to find great teams and start ups no matter where they are located in the world and as a result in this specific case, support the Romanian start up ecosystem. It is also great for Trilulilu and Zonga of course who gain a very important strategic partner that will significantly boost its growth potential. Finally it is also very good for the local start up ecosystem that in my opinion needs to gain credibility and traction, not just with more funding deal announcements or exits (still very rare) but also by having start ups that like Trilulilu evolve to the next stage and become credible enough so that they can partner and do truly strategic deals with the truly big boys. Good stuff and congrats to Sergiu and his team.

If you are in Romania, you can register to the free version of Zonga and access to largest catalogue of legal music in the country in any of their stores in Romania or online here

If you are a Vodafone customer, you can subscribe to the premium mobile version of Zonga here

Enjoy!

Ps: Below I have added a quick intro video to the Zonga service and what it does.

Zonga – Muzică nelimitată. Mereu cu tine

Vezi mai multe video din reclame

eRepublik Turkey Infographic

elabslogoThe creator of the hit game world eRepublik.com pushes for continuous expansion with new products on the horizon for 2013.

Madrid, September 13th,  2012 – eRepublik Labs is pleased to anounce the acquisition of the Alien Flow team, a proven team of mobile gaming developers based in Spain. The move is in line with eRepublik Labs’ effort to further boost its advance in the online strategy games market for and expand its focus on core gamers to mobile platforms.

Alexis Bonte, CEO and co-founder of eRepublik Labs, said: “We see mobile games gaining in depth and complexity and we see ourselves as extremely well positioned to take advantage of our European and growing global leadership in browser based multiplayer immersive gaming worlds for true strategy gamers and mix it with Alien Flow’s team strength in mobile platforms. We foresee our company to be among the first in Europe to capitalize on the current trend of core gamers moving towards mobile platforms.”

The Alien Flow team has in-depth experience in developing mobile games and applications, focusing on creating addictive and complex content for iOS and Android devices.

Chris Head, CEO of Alien Flow said: “We are delighted to join a company that consistently showed solid growth and creativity. We are looking forward to boost eRepublik Labs’ efforts to add new strategy games to their portfolio, in the wake of their success on browser platforms with their eRepublik.com strategy game world”

eRepublik Labs was founded in 2007. The company is one of the top 25 European start ups according to TechCrunch. eRepublik Labs is inventing game worlds, that leverage the power of communities and the Web.

erepublik.com_

eRepublik.com, its first massive online social strategy game, is set in a mirror version of the real world and launched in November 2007. eRepublik.com was a prize winner in the LeWeb3 start-up competition in 2007 as well as the TechCrunch FOWA competition in 2008 and was recognized by AlwayOn has one of the top 100 Private companies in the world in 2009. eRepublik was also a Webby Awards nominee in 2009 and 2010. Since its launch, over 3,5 million people have created an eRepublik citizen and the game world now has an active community of over 230.000 citizens, of which a high proportion play daily.

Chris Head has over 15 years of experience within the telecommunications and games industries. He starts today as eRepublik Labs new COO, where his extensive experience with large game studios will be key to help the 50 person strong company grow into the leading European provider for the growing tribe of core gamers that are looking for an accessible, deep and meaningful strategy gaming experience online and on mobile .

For any further details, please contact anca@echipapr.com or pr@erepublik.com

Spain win Euro2012

I’m tired of hearing people say that you can’t build a world-class start up from Spain. You can’t open a paper nowadays without more news about how Spain is collapsing; this is creating a wrong perception of the country.

It is the Real estate and banking sectors that are completely screwed up in Spain. That and like most other European countries living above one’s means for decades.

But amid the 25% unemployment and banks with 19 Billion € holes, something is happening and its not in football.

One of the best companies in the world is Spanish: Zara, its publicity shy founder: Armancio Ortega is now the wealthiest man in Europe.

Yes world-class companies can be created in Spain and attract world-class teams.

Since I have moved to Spain (my wife is Spanish), I’ve heard every single cliché you can imagine about why it’s the wrong place to be based. From the eco-system is not developed enough to it’s too sunny so people don’t work that hard (although there may be a point there if you look at what economies are doing best in Europe right now, there seems to be nothing South of Denmark other than Germany!)

But seriously, the Spanish are notorious for being the people in Europe that sleep the least and that is not just because they know how to Party.

I’m used to having to fight clichés, I had to do the same for Romania (our main games studio is in Romania, we are developing the one in Spain), one of the countries with the best dev talent in the world.

Ok, there are downsides to being in Spain, yes the start up eco-system is less developed than in London or (over-hyped?) Berlin and, it is divided between Madrid and Barcelona.

But it is better than most would think. Entrepreneurs meet regularly in initiatives such as Chamberi Valley, acquisitions are being made locally (Telefonica buying Tuenti,) and funding is available for early stage (Wayra, Cabiedes and Partners) or even later stage (Nauta Capital or Bonzai). Plus you have real local success stories such as eDreams, Idealista, Privalia, Social Point or Fon. They may not be world-class companies yet, but some do have a shot at achieving that.

Another key thing is talent, if you believe that the future of consumer tech is in great design rather than simply the best technology. Then designers & artists who are almost impossible to find in other European countries are actually quite easy to find in Spain. Also, great weather, good food plus falling cost of living do have the extra benefit of making it easier to attract foreign talent and to retain it.

Most importantly, Spain and the young Spaniards have no choice. With 50% youth unemployment, you are not going to beat the crisis if the society doesn’t become entrepreneurial and embraces start-ups.  The first signs of this are starting to emerge with the multiplication of events and conferences as well as growing government interest and the first (albeit slow) application of entrepreneur friendly laws such as a more flexible labor market. But the Spanish government could yet surprise us, this is after all a country that did a law (now cancelled) designed to attract the best football talent to the Spanish League and clubs: the Beckam law that halved income taxes to 24% for 6 years for international football players. Imagine if they placed the same energy and imagination in getting the best international entrepreneurial talent!

Spain did hit a brick wall but fortunately, entrepreneurs know that every brick wall has a brick door.

Yes Spain is one of the places where in football and in business if you can dream it, you can do it.

Screen-Shot-2012-03-05-at-5.28.07-PM

A few days ago, I learned via email that the World Economic Forum (WEF) had selected me to be part of the YGL (Young Global Leaders) class of 2012, this information is being made public today. The World Economic Forum among many other things organizes every year an annual meeting in Davos, without a doubt the most important economical summit in the world.

Every year a WEF committee selects 100 to 200 individuals of under 40 years to join the YGL community of 650 active members in the world (some very cool people in there). You can find the full list of the class of 2012 here: http://www.weforum.org/community/forum-young-global-leaders

I am honored and thankful to the World Economic Forum for nominating me to the Young Global Leader class of 2012.  This is especially rewarding for me as I will actually be joining my wife, Jimena who was selected as a YGL in 2010 for a completely different field: Art & Education and I therefor know just how incredibly interesting it is to be part of the YGL community.

I have been working, creating or investing in Internet start-ups since I’m 21, sometimes failing and fortunately a little more often succeeding in some not so obvious places (for internet start ups) such as Portugal, Argentina, Romania and Spain. And wherever I have been active with my own start ups I have tried to help the local ecosystem and local entrepreneurs.

I am currently the co-founder and CEO of eRepublik Labs, a start up of 50 people based in Dublin, Madrid and Bucharest that invents game worlds such as www.erepublik.com . I am also the non-executive chairman of Trilulilu.ro Romania’s largest entertainment website and an angel investor in half a dozen more start-ups.

It is in part thanks to all the people I have met, worked with (good and bad) and always learned from that I now have this new range of opportunities that being a YGL gives you, so thank you.  The rest is all my family and my wife’s making (and that of the person who submitted my profile to the selection committee).

I was asked by the WEF to answer a few questions that you can find below:

What are the characteristics of the next generation of leaders?

I believe that the characteristics of the next generation of leaders will be that:

-       They are truly citizens of the world, people who have been exposed to and understand other cultures.  Be it via travel, education or simply by being connected.

-       They are capable of leveraging the power of a connected world not only for business objectives but also for social objectives

-       They are less inclined to accept being limited by national borders or local rules something that has its advantages but also its risks

-       They are more socially conscious and true embracers of transparency and social mobility, what counts is not where you come from but what you are doing and what you are capable of achieving.

What according to you are the challenges and opportunities of the next generation of leaders?

The opportunities in terms of education, access to information and connections that the Internet offers, mean that the next generation of leaders can come from anywhere on the globe and work and develop anywhere. There is much more geographical mobility than before.

This is a great opportunity, in particular leaders that come from developing and emerging countries.  But it also creates the challenge both for future leaders and for countries on how to retain talent.

The playing field is not level and the challenge for the next generation of leaders will be to apply their skills for long term benefits in the countries or regions that they care about rather than just where the best and easiest opportunities are in the short term.

There are times where you have to leave to blossom as a leader but there are other times in particular times of crisis where staying is a necessity both for yourself and for your country. Dealing with this will I believe be a real challenge for the next generation of leaders.

What do you want to give and get form the YGL community?

To the YGL community, I want to give some of my time to be an engine that helps change how entrepreneurs are perceived in the old economies of Europe and drive not only a policy change but also a real attitude change towards entrepreneurs in these countries. Embracing entrepreneurialism is a force for social good and change.

I also hope it will be a great platform to meet new people I can share with and learn from.

I would also like to congratulate Martha Lane Fox (UK digital Champion appointed by the UK government who was the co-founder of lastminute.com and my boss when I started my career there) and is also in this YGL class of 2012. Martha and Brent gave me my first chance at lastminute.com and Brent (also a YGL but from a previous year) also helped me start eRepublik Labs.

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