Weekend with Ansca Mobile in Silicon Valley

Biffy and I attended the Mobile Startup Camp in Silicon Valley this weekend, but we came a day early to meet the Ansca Mobile team, which is something we’ve wanted to do ever since I’ve been using the Corona SDK.

We got to meet Carlos Icaza and most of the Ansca team and they were all very sharp individuals. We couldn’t have asked to be around a better people. It feels good knowing we’ve been supporting a product that also happens to be made by a truly awesome group of people.

The weekend event ran by Semantic Seed was focused on developers who are interested in launching a startup and getting the attention of venture capital investors, so our purpose for going wasn’t the same as everyone else there. We went solely for the experience of attending a developer’s event (since we never have), to see how things work in Silicon Valley, and to hopefully challenge ourselves in the process.

And that we did! The goal was to build a working app over the weekend, and thanks to Corona, we were able to get a fairly complex, GPS-based multiplayer risk-style game completed before the deadline! It wasn’t anywhere near production quality, and had a fair amount of bugs that needed to be resolved (it even produced a pretty ugly error in the simulator during the presentation, ouch!) but I have to say it was probably the most ambitious (and different) app that I personally observed at the event.

None of it was my idea. The whole thing came from our head team member, Peter Dassenko, who had created a 15-page design document on the game before the event (he plans on turning into a real deal one of these days). The team also included Arvind Ravikumar, me and Biffy (who did some amazing game graphics for the project), and Hetal Bhatt from Ansca who wasn’t officially on the team, but it felt like he was (he even contributed some pretty ingenious on-the-fly sound effects and music).

So special thanks to Carlos and Hetal for hanging around with us throughout the whole event!

Our app didn’t end up winning any of the awards, because the whole event was about coming up with something viable (through the eyes of investors) for a startup and before I go on, I’ll share something I learned about a lot of the folks at the event (and a lot of people in their shoes in Silicon Valley I presume).

It seems that the mindset there is that you need to come up with a product (app in this case) that has the sole purpose of “appearing” as though it could possibly generate revenue to sort of win the heart of an investor. Like as if that’s the only path… Or at least the expected one.

Nowhere in the presentations did I see a product or idea that anyone could be passionate about or really enjoy pursuing in the real world, which are two elements that I personally think are among the most important.

After discovering all that, I didn’t expect our app to win because it also seems that although they are in the heart of Silicon Valley, they haven’t caught on to the possibility that mobile games can be an outstanding business model in today’s atmosphere… And they also seem to think that coupon apps are more likely to generate revenue (that was a little weird).

So I can’t say I share the opinion or agree with a lot of the common startup “routes” that folks down there feel like they have to take in order to be successful, but hey, I only have a wife, two daughters, and do this for a living so what do I know?

It was a great experience though, and we really enjoyed ourselves and got to connect with some really cool people. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store!

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