Like a tennis partner or golf buddy, finding a gaming companion who shares your goals and skill level can be hard. Teamfind, with more than 21,000 members, is working to ease the pain by empowering players to find a perfect match. Not only does this save players time that they might have spent playing with an incompatible team, but it also decreases the customer drop-off rate for the gaming companies.
The MMORPG (Massive Mulitplayer Online Role-playing Games) market is huge, estimated to be $3 billion in the U.S. alone with 50 million players. The players are highly committed to their games, spending an average of 21 hours per week playing online.
Teamfind CEO and founder Skander Mzali graduated high school at 16, and earned his degree in aeronautics from the University of Washington at 19. By 21, he obtained a Masters in Aerospace Engineering. He started working on Teamfind as a side project while working at Boeing teaching himself Ruby on Rails along the way. He has since left Boeing, with his new startup located newly-opened SURF Incubator. We caught up with Mzali, who calls his entrepreneurial leap as “surreal and exciting,” for the latest installment of Startup Spotlight:
Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “Teamfind is OKCupid for gamers finding players who complement their skills and play-style.”
Inspiration hit me when: “When my competitive World of Warcraft team fell apart, I thought: “Wouldn’t it be great if there were a place I could go to find a new team?” This should exist. I can build it.”
VC, Angel, or Bootstrap?: “We’re bootstrapped. I started with a vision and knew I had to build it. After choosing Ruby on Rails, I set out to learn and build the site. Now I am building out a team working on customer development, marketing and design.”
Our secret sauce is: “The fact that every one of us is an avid, and often very competitive, gamer as well. Some of us have been sponsored to play games and have won tournaments. We understand what players look for in teammates and the need for finding the right partners.”
The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Moving to Ruby on Rails. I began learning web development from scratch in February of last year and after much searching around, a friend suggested switching to Ruby on Rails from PHP. Not only did that accelerate my progress, I’ve gotten to know some amazing people through Rails meetups in the Seattle area.”
The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “Not talking to users early enough. In fact, we still need to do much more of this. We’ve built out features or ideas much more than necessary before validating.”
Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg, or Bezos in your corner? “I’d take Bezos and Musk. Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are setting out to make a lasting impact on the world in technology, space, and energy. I’d love to learn from them since my goal is to ultimately make a lasting impact in similar ways.
Our world domination strategy starts when: “When we’ve thoroughly solved the recruitment/matchmaking issues for our members in the easiest and most fulfilling way for all gaming platforms.”
Rivals should fear us because: “We have traction and are learning from our customers every day. We are continuously finding better ways to allow gamers to find what they need to succeed.”
We are truly unique because: “No one else has our combination of skills and experience of true gamer, the expertise and knowledge of real tech geeks, and the drive and determination of rabid entrepreneurs.”
The biggest hurdle we’ve overcome is: “Surviving the ‘double fulltime jobs’ stage. Now we get to attempt the ‘quadruple overtime’ stage!”
Best advice to other entrepreneurs starting out: “Stop talking and do something, build something. Go to events where people build things (i.e. meetups, hackathons). Help others with things you’ve figured out on the way.”