Friday, 28 December 2012

PeakGames - The Biggest Game Developer You Never Heard About

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It’s probably fair to say that few American have heard of Peak Games, the Istanbul-based startup that recently became the world’s No. 3 social-gaming company in terms of daily active users (DAU). That’s because Peak develops and publishes online games that are culturally targeted at Turkish, Middle Eastern, and North African markets. All but one of the games are available only in Turkish and Arabic.

The company, which creates Facebook, mobile, and browser-based games, announced last week that it has over 9.4 million daily users. Zynga and, the world’s No. 1 and No. 2 companies, have 57.3 million and 12.3 million, respectively, according to online data provider AppData. (Note: Peak’s number is based on a combination of developed and published games, while AppData provides these numbers separately. Also, these numbers have shifted since last week but Peak remains in the No. 3 spot.)

Peak Games has experienced rapid growth since late 2010, when the company’s three founders set up shop in the small storage room of an air conditioning store owned by one co-founder’s father. At the time, Peak’s goal was to create culturally specific games for the Turkish market, starting with an online adaption of the traditional Turkish tile-based board game, Okey. “Back then, Turkey was the fourth-largest country on Facebook and there was no local player or even global player who was providing relevant content or relevant services to the region,” says Rina Onur, the company’s co-founder and chief strategy officer, who graduated from Harvard in 2008 with a B.A. in economics and briefly worked at Morgan Stanley as an analyst. She explains that most big social-gaming companies simply translate Western games into Turkish.

When Okey took off (the game now has 18 million users), Peak’s team moved to more comfortable office space. In 2011, they secured funding to expand into the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), regions that Onur says have “similar cultures, a similar history, similar user habits … and Internet and Facebook penetration that is growing really, really fast.”

The company’s first release in MENA was a game with a name that translates as Happy Farm. That game has since become the world’s No. 2 farm game, after Farmville. It includes characters, buildings, and animals that are specific to Peak’s targeted regions. “In the Turkish version, the farmer is not covered, while in our Arabic version there is a Saudi man with a cultural outfit,” says Onur. “We don’t have cowboys or American horses.”

In February, Peak acquired Saudi Arabia’s largest gaming company, Kammelna, creator of a popular online version of the beloved local card game, Baloot. Saudi Arabia is now Peak’s second-largest market, after Turkey. It’s a good market to have cornered, says Onur. “There’s high levels of disposable income but not a lot of liberty in terms of going out and socializing, so people use these games as a platform to meet each other, express themselves, and interact,” she explains. “They’re like online coffee shops.”

Since last year, Peak’s revenues have skyrocketed by 600 percent, according to Onur. The company now has about 200 employees in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan, as well as in offices in Berlin and Barcelona. Peak has also secured over $20 million in funding from investors in Belgium, Germany, and the Middle East.

eak has no plans to make its locally targeted games available in English, as they don’t hold the same relevance for Western cultures. But Onur says the team may eventually expand its offerings of “global themed” games such as its latest release, Lost Bubble. Peak created the “bubble shooter, arcade-style game” for a dozen languages because it isn’t culturally specific, and it picked up a million daily users in two weeks. “To our surprise, without pushing the product in Western markets, we got a huge number of organic users, especially in Europe,” says Onur. “It proved to us that the developing capabilities we have built over the past year and a half … are comparable to those of our global peers.”

Regardless of Lost Bubble‘s success, Peak’s primary focus remains servicing and creating content for Turkey and MENA. It’s a market that the company has locked down, according to Onur. ”Global players with money and resources are not focusing on these games,” she says. “And the local players in our regions are too small to compete.”

The company’s next goal is to expand slowly and sustainably into such new emerging markets as Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia, bringing more local games online. According to Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter, it’s a solid strategy. “They’re obviously doing something right, and what’s interesting is that they’re focused on such a narrow market,” he says—noting he hasn’t played Peak’s games because they aren’t translated. “If their games work in that market, they’ll work anywhere. They just need to localize them and get the language right.”

[Via - Business Week]

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Friday, 21 December 2012

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During her keynote speech at the 2012 South by Southwest Interactive festival in Austin, Texas, Geoloqi CEO Amber Case proclaimed that the next generation of location-based apps and analytics would transform the mobile phone into a "remote control for reality," with people as the metaphorical buttons. The problem with the current state of things, she lamented, is that you "miss a lot of life looking at the screen all the time."

With Geoloqi, you can make apps to fix that--apps that work in the background, alerting you only if something needs to be done. The Portland, Ore.-based company provides a turnkey platform that makes it easy to add next-generation geolocation functionality to apps and mobile devices. The company demonstrates its capabilities to potential clients and partners with its own app, which has features like "Don't Eat There" (it pings you if you're near a restaurant that has gotten too many bad reviews). Case and co-founder Aaron Parecki programmed a set of location-based features that automatically turn lights on or off when they enter or leave their houses.

Ambient-location technology, as Case describes geolocation, "has incredible implications for the end-user." Other developers, she hopes, will take the technology and run with it, since her main focus is on big organizations. Already, Geoloqi has partnerships with app-development platforms like Appcelerator and a project with personnel recovery firm TATE to help track the global staffs of clients such as the Peace Corps, pushing emergency alerts upon entry to dangerous areas.

Case and Parecki started Geoloqi in 2010; they launched the product this past February, offering a software development kit that addresses pain points that have plagued the geolocation market from the beginning, such as accuracy, battery drain, carrier dependence and privacy.

In fact, Geoloqi has been six years in the making; development began two years ago when Case and Parecki still had day jobs and bootstrapped the business with winnings from weekend hackathons. "I've seen a lot of geocompanies die, so we were waiting until the exact right moment," she says--referring to when investors started calling. The company closed on $350,000 in funding in July 2011.

That cash is proof of what Victor Hwang, managing director of Silicon Valley's T2 Venture Capital and author of The Rainforest: The Secret to Building the Next Silicon Valley, says is the "significant" amount of interest, money and activity still flowing into apps. "It's true that geolocation has been going on for a while, but we're still waiting for a big ‘super-app' company that answers how to really make revenue off that," he says.

Things are promising for Geoloqi. "This is the future of apps," Case says. The numbers back that up: Pyramid Research puts the global location-based services market at $10 billion by 2015; ABI Research estimates location analytics will be a $9 billion market by 2016; and Ericsson anticipates upward of 50 billion connected devices on the market by 2020.

[Via - Entrepreneur.Com]

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Link of the day - If You Sell Links On Your Site, I Will Buy Them Off You

Friday, 14 December 2012

Bootstrap This - 29+ Free Bootstrapping Tools That Help You Save Money

1. - Free CRM, planner, project manager, document sharing (limited to 12 employees)

2. - Pay per result naming service, $50 for domain/name/product line, slogan.

3. Reddit/Freebies - Community moderated daily updated freebies list.

4. - Groupon clone for buying enterprise software.

5. - Low airfare meta searchengine (searches through 700+ airlines to find best deals normally available through direct purchase on airline sites only).

6. - Free invoicing.

7. MoneyBookers.Com (Skrill) - PayPal alternative, cheap way to accept online payments/credit cards (25 cents + 3%, please refer to site for exact details)

8. - Office sharing. You can both buy and sell extra office space, including by the hour.

9. - Free press-release distribution.

10. - Own slaves legally.

11. RetailMeNot.Com - Discount coupons, business section available.

12. OpenOffice.Org - Free MS Office alternative.

13. - Free online accounting SaaS

14. - Free helpdesk software. is worth paying for.

15. - Yes, I do want to let complete stranges sleep in my house for free (so I can do the same when I travel).

16. SubmitYourStartup.Com - Partly outdated list of sites that accept startup submissions.

17. Vator.Tv - Social network for startups

18. - Loan/Insurance/Internet Provider/Phone Carries comparison service.

19. Score.Org - Free consulting from retired entrepreneurs (available in certain areas only).

20. - Free logos. Bad English gratis.

21. - Cheaper alternative for design work. Designers hate the site, so it must be good.

22. - Hire doctor/lawyer/coffee enema expert - pay by the minute. Lots of experts, typical pay is around $2.50 a minute. Not sure, but there's probably some sort of minimum required.

23. HelpAReporter.Com - Free publicity (pitch your business directly to journos working on certain stories).

24. AVG - Free antivirus.

25. Weebly.Com - Free website creator.

26. - Send free fax online. Limited to 3 pages, US and Canada only.

27. - Free To-Do list, iPhone and Android support.

28. - Free online file converter. Let's pass a law that mandates that only one extension (how does .file sound) is allowed!

29. Join.Me - Free webcast/webconference SaaS.

P.S. I have not included eBay, Skype, etc. since everybody knows about those. Did I miss something? Send me a message.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Cool New Startups - Bitrix24.Com

Does your site need hits? We've got them! is a new SaaS (software as a service) cloud based social intranet platform that makes corporate intranet easily available to smaller companies. It does not take any time to deploy (everything is already installed and set up) and doesn’t cost anything if it’s used by companies with fewer than 12 employees.

At first, Bitrix24 looks like corporate Facebook – there is the wall or activity stream where different employees engage in discussions and vote by ‘liking’ ideas, documents or workgroups. There are also instant messenger and photogallery. This is where the similarities end.

The first important Bitrix24 module is free CRM (customer relationship module) that comes with a database for clients and prospects that are easily sorted by events (phone call or meeting, for instance). Next comes the sales funnel that divides clients into easy-to-work-with groups - new prospects, first contact, requested quote, scheduled meeting, negotiations and sales, for example (the actual setup is customizable). Bitrix24 free CRM is designed for easy interactions with clients. For example, you can send an e-mail to a certain group as well as import/export any client information. You can also set Bitrix24 to automatically import ‘leads’ that are generated by any site into the CRM.

The second important module is document management. This module allows storing, editing and collaborating on various documents with co-workers. The documents can be made private (visible to document owner only) or shared. Bitrix24 also tracks version history, making it possible to revert to older version of the document, if necessary. Importantly, you can map a single document library or all of your document libraries to a network drive on your local machine literally in 2 clicks using WebDav. That means that whether you use Windows, Mac OS, or Linux, you will be able to see the documents in the intranet locally through your file manager.

Third and fourth are planning and task/project management modules. These include calendar, work reports, absentee charts, meeting scheduler, personalized to-do lists, time management tools, even Gantt charts for easy visualization of progress made on specific projects. The employees are split into workgroups and access rights are assigned to each individual. For example, the department head may see work reports of his subordinates only, while vice-president is able to view every work report made by any employee.

Because companies tend to outsource or hire outside contractors/freelancer Bitrix24 allows one to easily integrate those into workgroups and give non-employees access to corporate intranet with restricted rights specified as necessary. Also, for higher mobility, can be easily accessed via iPhone, iPad or any Android based device.

As mentioned, is free when used by 12 employees or fewer. can be used by unlimited numbers of workers for $99 a month. Unlike other similar services, doesn’t charge extra for each additional employee, since it is cloud based and ample storage is available. The premium version is priced at $199 a month.

[Via -]

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PeakGames - The Biggest Game Developer You Never Heard About

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