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Innervate CEO Adam Lieb
Innervate CEO Adam Lieb

Adam Lieb knows games. The 28-year-old Seattle native built his first online gaming community at age 11 and later sold it to IGN. At 15, he generated thousands of dollars per week by selling virtual goods in MMORPG games. He went on to found several profitable gaming companies before teaming up with veterans of the Seattle tech community for his newest venture.

His new startup is called Innervate, a company that creates online communities and custom marketing for game developers hoping to profit from their most devout fans — a market they call “the obsessed.”

Innervate, currently in the Techstars Seattle accelerator, has generated $250,000 in revenue since launching its first product six months ago.

We caught up with Lieb for this Startup Spotlight, a regular GeekWire feature.

Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “Innervate builds a suite of tools to keep gamers engaged in your world, even when they’re not playing your game.”

Inspiration hit us when: “When we chatted with game makers about their challenges building community. We learned about the myriad of issues game makers have with marketing and retention technology. We started building different solutions in the space until one finally started gaining traction. We are now developing a complete suite of tools to help game developers keep gamers in their world even when they’re not playing the game.”

VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “Angel backed makes the most sense for our stage. The amount of money we have needed to prove that this is a big and viable business has made the most sense for angels. That is likely to change.”

innervate-team
The Innervate team lives and breathes games.

Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “Years in the industry building consumer facing products and services. This has given us unique insights on building lasting relationships with gamers through technology. We are able to apply these learnings to our current product focused on game makers.”

The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Hiring the right people and building the right team. Our team is perfectly suited to solve the particular market problems we are working on.”

The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “Hiring the wrong people and dealing with the consequences. Everyone says hire slow, fire fast. When you hire the wrong person, you can NEVER fire fast enough.”

Would you rather have Gates, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “Zuckerberg. He is energetic and focused on building products that are the best in their class. This reflects the ideals we hold in our company.”

Our favorite team-building activity is: “Trolling. We all love a healthy amount of trolling in Slack with emojis, gifs, and videos.”

innervateThe biggest thing we look for when hiring is: “Passion. Passion for your work and passion for our space. If you hire smart people it is relatively easy to learn new skills. With a great management team you can ‘coach people up.’ One thing that is extremely hard is to instill passion in someone. That is the top thing we screen for.”

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Trust your gut.”

Editor’s note: GeekWire is featuring each of the 11 startups participating in the TechstarsSeattle incubator in the lead up to the Demo Day pitch event on Oct. 27. Techstars applications for its next class are now open.

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