The New York Times succinctly summed up the problem with many of the “hot startups” that are getting all the buzz.
[The current tech] boom is characterized by a rise in so-called on-demand services aimed at the wealthy and the young.
With a few taps on a phone, for a fee, today’s hottest start-ups will help people on the lowest rungs of the 1 percent live like their betters in the 0.1 percent.
The idea, those companies say, is that eventually their services will trickle down to an affordable level for everyone. And maybe that is true in a very few of those cases. Although let’s be honest, if you’re barely making enough money to put gas in your tank, there’s not going to be a price-point – save for, “free” – where an on-demand valet is going to be in your future.
Another of the companies featured touted the fact that you could be home making dinner while someone else was driving your kids around. Which solves the problem if your problem is not having the leisurely ability to make dinner without your kids running around. But if your problem is needing to pick the kids up and you’re rushing to get them because your overtime shift left you with just barely enough time to get to the daycare center before it closes and leaving earlier isn’t an option because you need the overtime shift to cover the existing bills and then you still have to figure out what to feed the kids after you get them, a company that charges you $15 to drive your kids home from equestrian lessons is not serving a need you have.
That’s not to put down the 1 percent or the .1 percent, but it is to say that the vast majority of technology being touted as revolutionizing X or Y industry or solving life’s problems are not doing that in any meaningful way for the majority of the population.
At 7 Generation Games, we’re not creating technology strictly aimed at the .1 percent or the 1 percent or even the 10 percent. We’re creating video games that are affordable and accessible. It’s why, despite some “experts” in Silicon Valley lecturing us about how the future of games is in mobile and we should really focus on creating it for iPad and smartphones, we built our games for computers first because we know in the communities we serve – far from Silicon Valley and the Upper East Side – having a 1:1 iPad setting is not realistic.
We’ve created games that are accessible for anyone with $9.99, and we know there are people who weigh making a decision to purchase something that’s less than $10. But we also believe in many ways those are the consumers who most need and who could most benefit from the products we are creating.
That approach might not get us the same kind of investment attention as these companies raising Series A rounds so that “you don’t even have to drop your stuff off at the dry cleaners, instead they’ll come to your home and pick it up,” but we’re OK with that. Unlike a lot of these companies pretending their service will “someday” become more affordable to the masses, we are creating products that are more affordable to the masses now. Since we’ve seen a lot of those “next big things” rise and fall over the three years we’ve been around, we’re less inclined to listen all the people who are telling us that we should look to mimic those companies.
You hear over and over that the vast majority of startups fail. So we’ve decided to adopt a company approach against doing all the things people tell “you should be doing” and start doing the things that we find work. In our case, that’s producing games that were good to begin with and that are getting significantly better with each release.
If you’re looking for a fun and affordable way to learn math or for your kids to learn math, we’re creating technology products for you – whether you’re in the .1 percent or the 1 percent or the 99.1 percent. We have donated game licenses for schools that serve students who could not afford the game otherwise.
If you need an app that will send a valet to wherever you are to park your car or a company that will make sure that the sushi you’re having delivered is packed in dry ice and not a standard cooler, we can’t help you. And seriously, do you really need an on-demand valet to find you a parking spot at your kid’s spring concert? Just park two blocks away and walk like everyone else.