Sir Mix-A-Lot is rolling with a new posse. The iconic hip-hop artist and entrepreneur has hooked up with Seattle startup Giant Thinkwell to create a new social media game called Mix-N-Match.
The Facebook trivia game is built around Sir Mix-A-Lot’s interests, allowing fans to interact with the rapper in new ways. In an interview with GeekWire, Sir Mix-A-Lot said the game will also allow him to connect with those fans in a deeper way.
“We’re trying to do something that’s not just about: ‘Hey, here I am, I’m a real cool guy, and buy my record.’ ” he said. “It is something where the whole point of it is to interact, and it is something that is kinda hard to do for most artists, especially guys that come from the era from which I come, which is kind of the brick-and-mortar, produce a record, deliver the record and wait. The Giant Thinkwell guys, they kind of slapped me around a little bit and let me know: ‘hey, it is all about connecting.’ And, so far, I’m loving it, man.”
Mix-N-Match is the latest “celebrity-based” game from Giant Thinkwell, an offbeat (and slightly unusual) group of entrepreneurs who graduated last summer from the TechStars program in Seattle.
In addition to the Sir Mix-A-Lot partnership, Giant Thinkwell is announcing today that it has raised $600,000 in startup capital from Madrona Venture Group, Founder’s Co-op and others.
Adam Tratt, the former marketing director at Cranium who joined Giant Thinkwell as CEO shortly after its graduation from TechStars, said the 5-person company is trying to redefine how celebrities and fans interact.
“What we want to do is change the experience of being a fan, and make it more fun, make it richer and as awesome as it should be,” he said. “Right now, being a fan on Twitter or Facebook is largely just giving a celebrity permission to talk at you, and we think it should be about all of the things that people love to do in social media.”
That message resonated with Sir Mix-A-Lot — a self-described “studio rat” and “geek” who has always pushed the envelope with his music and entrepreneurial pursuits. In the mid 90s, Sir Mix-A-Lot released a song called “Jump on It” in which he created a personalized mix for each local radio station that played the song.
It was an idea that stuck with him. And now with the social media game, Sir Mix-A-Lot is taking that concept to new levels.
“I’ve been looking for ways to release music that circumvented the system, trying to get away from labels, and this is cool because I’ll start doing one-off tracks that we’ll release through this game and I’ll do personalized answer machine stuff. Just a lot of personalized stuff,” he tells GeekWire.
In the case of the Mix-N-Match game, fans can earn prizes such as a special video shout-out from the rapper or a ride down Broadway with Mix in his Lamborghini. (Broadway being the famous street in Seattle that serves as the backdrop for the hit “Posse on Broadway.”)
Sir Mix-A-Lot noted that he immediately connected with the Giant Thinkwell team, including Tratt and co-founders Kyle Kesterson and Kevin Leneway.
“These guys are just real down-to-Earth, ground-level cats that just want to have fun,” said Sir Mix-A-Lot.
The secret sauce behind Giant Thinkwell is the ability for celebrities to easily plug-in customizable modules to engage with their fans in deeper ways. Furthermore, Tratt said that most social media games are not building social experiences around branded experiences and special prizes related to celebrities.
“We think having those prizes will make it super engaging and fun in a way that Facebook games are not,” said Tratt. The company plans to make money by selling virtual goods, such as virtual cocktails that are used to wake up Sir Mix-A-Lot when he’s feeling tired.
The company plans to start adding more celebrities later this year, including both famous celebrities and “fame-ish” people like professional athlets, TV stars, motivational speakers and more.
For now, Tratt said they are thrilled to have Sir Mix-A-Lot helping to kick off the platform. “He’s a perfect partner for us. He has a giant personality, and he is just an entertaining guy,” said Tratt.
UPDATE: Sir Mix-A-Lot jumps from 1,200 Facebook fans to more than 17,000 on the back of the new Mix-N-Match game.
Previously on the GeekWire Podcast: Can these 3 funny guys build a viable startup?