This is a presentation I did this morning at ICEX, the Spanish government org that helps Spanish companies develop abroad. My friend Isaac Martin Barbero who basically ambushed me last night at dinner into doing this to replace another speaker asked me if I could center it around failure. It is something I had already covered in a previous talk I do “building upon an idea”, but as I was doing this I realized that although I have had many failures over 17 years of being in start ups, many times I simply did not fail fast enough. One to remember and learn to do better.
Its really is a huge market and China is about to overtake the US. Interesting market research by Superdata
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
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
“…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..
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or got to eRepublikLabs.com
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.
To apply, please send your CV and a short motivation letter of why you would be perfect for the role via email to: email@example.com
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.
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.
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
Ps: Below I have added a quick intro video to the Zonga service and what it does.
Zonga – Muzică nelimitată. Mereu cu tine
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.
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, 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 .