[Editor's note: GeekWire is running a series of profiles on the startups participating in this year's class in the TechStars Seattle incubator program. Check back each day at 1:30 p.m. for a new profile, leading up to Demo Day on Nov. 1]

Drawing on their experiences at Google, Andrew First and Momchil Kyurkchiev are hoping to transform the way game developers create new games.

Their new service, Leanplum, is essentially an online testing environment which allows developers to get real-time feedback and adjust titles as they go. That’s especially important at a time when game developers are spending more and more time building games for mobile and online environments, rather than traditional desktop versions. Here’s more of what they are up to from our latest Startup Spotlight.

Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “Leanplum helps game studios use data to learn from their players and deliver them the best possible experience.”

The Leanplum team

Inspiration hit us when: “Google spoils its engineers with the amount of data and infrastructure in place to optimize each of its products. For example, they were known to test 41 different shades of blue on their search results. Mobile applications have these same needs, but there is no good way to do it yet.”

VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “We’ve been talking mainly to angels. By picking out each of our investors, we can find people who can also provide us with mentorship, not just money.”

Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “Our team is composed of very strong ex-Googlers who have solved similar problems at Google scale.”

The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Joining TechStars. TechStars surrounds us with all the right people to accelerate our company  — from excellent mentors to like-minded entrepreneurs who can share our experiences.”

The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “Not talking to enough customers before joining TechStars.

Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner:  “Jobs, because he knows how to make something inherently complex, simple, and corral a following around it.”

Our world domination strategy starts when: “Games is a stepping stone. The real plan is to use the data in order to cross-breed plums.We’ll find the variety that will become the next Apple. :)”

Rivals should fear us because: “We’re very lean and iterate quickly.”

We are truly unique because: “We have a unique approach to making optimization on mobile as simple as possible, because we understand the pain points from doing it on the web at Google.”

The biggest hurdle we’ve overcome is: “Getting our first customer. No one wants to be the first to try out a service like this in their app. We’re fortunate to be working with several game studios now.”

What is the most important thing you learned at TechStars: “Get out of the office and talk to customers. Make sure your product solves their biggest pain point.”

What was your most memorable moment in TechStars: “11:11, the meeting that happens every Wednesday at 11:11 pm. Everyone stands around in a circle, takes a shot of whiskey, and says their high and low for the week. It’s a great bonding experience, and it represents what doing a startup is all about.”

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: Read The Four Steps to the Epiphany by Steve Blank. It’s an invaluable resource for figuring out how to approach customer development and marketing for your company, and helps you avoid the pitfalls that most startups make.”


Startup Spotlight is an occasional look at a Seattle area startup company. Have an interesting new venture you want spotlighted in GeekWire? Fill out the questions above, send  photos of the founder(s) and company logo to tips@geekwire.com. Past profiles can be found here.

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