The death of Wii cooking

Another typical Tuesday night in New York City – pretending I’m on the set of How I Met Your Mother and I really don’t have anything better to do than hang out across the hall with some friends (who happen to be gorgeous babes, of course) dreaming up random ideas and having some drinks.

We were talking about the transformative effect of the Wii on video games and how even girls are playing the Wii now (nevertheless my mom!)  We were also cooking up some dinner.  And voila, inspiration struck in the form of a video game idea.  Wii cooking – genius!!  The player could use the Wii-mote to scramble eggs, shake salt and pepper into a pot, chop up onions and all sorts of other motions familiar to a kitchen.  And we could tie the game into cooking lessons that would translate to real life in the form of preparing meals to eat.  The game would be good for introducing kids to cooking in a fun way and good for teaching the rapidly rising number of adults in the United Sates (we supposed) who have lost the ability to cook anything more complicated than frozen pizza.

Angie and Megan had barely played ten hours of video games between them and while I’ve logged a few more hours than that I certainly had never created a game before.  Caught up in the enthusiasm of a good idea we decided we could pull this off anyway.  We spent a couple of hours sketching out the gameplay dynamics (here it is).  Then I looked up a friend who is the video game design business (he’s good) and got some feedback.

Then we hit the brick wall.  I talked with a friend who is actively involved in video game design and got a reality check.  Hiring designers to build this game doesn’t come cheap – probably $500,000 to a million dollars just for the first development phase.  Did I have that kind of money?  Had I done any research into competitors?  Not exactly (would anyone really buy these?)but at least there weren’t any real good competitors and besides, our overall concept was unique!

The punchline – it’s possible to build a video game but it takes a lot of time and effort and work and money and commitment and experience.  Our venture came up short in every single one of those areas.  The moral, I was told, is that friends chatting late at night over beers come up with a million ideas that sound good.  But when faced with reality, execution of an idea is what makes a business work and if you can’t execute, it’s better to find a new idea.  Although discouraging, the advice was in fact completely sound.  I strongly urge plentiful alcohol- and friend-fueled brain storming and experiencing the feeling of euphoria that comes with getting something good.  The next step though is the work part of the venture – transforming the idea into reality through the execution of a solid strategy.

This is the tedious and certainly less exciting part of business development and what my blog and business try to deal with.  This is, for example, the analysis of potential customers, creation of a product and market testing/feedback, developing a sales pipeline and a coherent and cohesive marketing strategy.  The upside is all these steps will require a constant stream of energy and ideas to propel them along.  Your first idea doesn’t always have to be the winner.  So put your Wii cooking (and college prep in Ecuador and CarTunes and all the rest of them) to rest and get back to the drawing board.

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Posted in Calvin and Hobbes, Startup

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