Brian Wong

Brian Wong

Founder and CEO of kiip. Former Digg'er. Nomad by choice. Explorer

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON October 08, 2015

Discussion

Brian Wong
Brian Wong@brian_wong · CEO, Kiip
Hey friends! Brian Wong here. I started Kiip at 19YO, as a way to reward mobile users for their achievements inside apps and games. During my time off, you can find me traveling the world, obsessing over new tech or feeding my passion for games. Ask me anything! By the way, I am writing a book. Publisher and title have not been announced yet but sign up for early updates here: http://brianiswritingabook.com
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Brian! I've enjoyed following Kiip and your career since you blew up on the scene ~4 years ago. What's the biggest mistake you've made since starting your company at the age of 19? Bonus question: what games are you playing right now? Tell me you're a Metal Gear Solid fan. 😀
Brian Wong
Brian Wong@brian_wong · CEO, Kiip
@rrhoover Thanks Ryan! I don't like to look at mistakes as mistakes or failures as failures. I like to look at them as lucky opportunities to learn =) otherwise you wouldn't have known what not to do, right? I try to remove some of those early words from my vocabulary. I think some of my biggest lucky opportunities to learn were around hiring and not giving people enough autonomy, which I'm hopefully now much better at =) I'm unfortunately not actively playing tons of games at the moment other than those I test as Kiip partners, but dots is pretty addictive =P I respect great games and so I am a MGS fan =)
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
@brian_wong well said. In a recent PH LIVE with @caseyneistat, he said something similar: "Regrets are a funny thing, I take a big step back and look at my life - I am happy, I love my life - it was my mistakes, my failures just as much as my successes that got me here so to parse that out and say I wish I hadn't... that doesn't feel right."
Russ Frushtick
Russ Frushtick@russfrushtick
@brian_wong What's the biggest argument for "gamification" these days?
Brian Wong
Brian Wong@brian_wong · CEO, Kiip
@russfrushtick I think gamification was a bit overhyped as an overall concept, but there are nuggets in it that are worth highlighting and making core to your business. For example, at Kiip, we focused on one mechanic of the "achievement moment" and the reward response, and we built our entire business around it. So I encourage companies not to apply the entire suite of gamification tactics "just cause" and focus on one or two mechanics they can benefit from.
giftgaming®
giftgaming®@giftgaming · CEO, giftgaming
@brian_wong Brian... it's your nemesis, Nick Hatter, here (just kidding about the nemesis part). Congrats on Kiip's success so far. Everyone I know who has met you, speaks highly of you. Questions: 1) Did Courtney Guertin (Co-founder and CTO) and Manny Anekal (COO) leave - if so, why? 2) Going to brands and publisher direct is timely and expensive; how do you plan to scale demand and supply side?
Brian Wong
Brian Wong@brian_wong · CEO, Kiip
@giftgaming I like to say that imitators need to earn their right to be a competitor =) similarly, folks need to earn the nemesis title =) I have heard of you guys, and wish you all the best. 1. Courtney is still involved but not day to day. He has been at the company for 4+ years and so it makes sense that he wants to dabble in new things. Manny did leave, a while ago, and we are appreciative of what he did for us when he was here. Teams change. 2. It's timely and expensive but cuts out the middle man and gives you a lot of freedom to define how you engage with them. It also means you control your own destiny to a better degree.
giftgaming®
giftgaming®@giftgaming · CEO, giftgaming
@brian_wong @giftgaming Thanks Brian, there’s also an old quote about ‘competitors are there to make you look good’... ;) When I founded giftgaming, I didn’t realise Kiip existed until a few months in, but was pleasantly surprised as it proved there was a market. Ever since, we’ve been looking at how we can innovate in this space, now that there’s several close competitors. For instance, we don't ask players for email or phone number to save a coupon; we believe that is too intrusive. Anyway, thanks for answering, hope to connect on LinkedIn. Be great to meet you some day -- we're also the same age, funnily enough! Kind regards, Nick
Dave Jarrick
Dave Jarrick@davejarrick · Deloitte - Digital Innovation
@brian_wong As technologies such as those around ad-blocking evolve and gain favor among a growing number of users (cross platform) how does Kiip stay ahead of the curve in connecting with users in new ways? - Continue to be a big fan of you and others at Kiip
Brian Wong
Brian Wong@brian_wong · CEO, Kiip
@davejarrick Thanks! We are so excited that this ad-blocking fervor has hit a peak - primarily because it's scaring the industry into seeking new, differentiated models to engage with consumers (i.e. us). We have always looked at ourselves beyond ads - and in fact, something different entirely. So when looking for the solution to ad-blocking, the answer isn't better ads, perhaps it's not even ads altogether. We think we are on to something around moments and rewards/acknowledgment - giving people something to act on and something to receive in that moment, rather than just something to see. I think when we begin to incorporate RESPECT into our models of connecting brands and consumers, everything starts to improve. Right now there is no respect for the user - it's all incentives aligned to benefiting just the publishers and the advertisers. That's why new metrics like CPE, or cost-per-engagement - change incentives so that consumers actually have to care, which is one small step towards helping the industry change their approaches to something that is more respectful of the user.
Jason Li
Jason Li@imjasonli · Co-founder, TomYum
Hey @brian_wong Starting a company at 19 must have been tough. How did you find your early team members?
Brian Wong
Brian Wong@brian_wong · CEO, Kiip
@imjasonli I have two co-founders, Courtney Guertin and Amadeus Demarzi. Courtney I worked with at Digg on the Digg button project and we got along great so I asked him if he wanted to work on this new idea. Amadeus was Courtney's partner in crime on side projects for design so Courtney asked him to join. Then we became the killer team. I think it's always best to find early team members you've worked with, but aren't necessarily like college bros with.
Emily Hodgins
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
Hi Brian! Thanks for joining us today 🙌What was your inspiration behind Kiip? Many 19 year olds might not be in the right place to be thinking yet about building a business. What was your drive behind this big step?
Brian Wong
Brian Wong@brian_wong · CEO, Kiip
@ems_hodge My inspiration came from seeing people play games and getting annoying ads. I was wondering to myself, how can something that people not like and not want (mobile ads) still exist? How can we improve this, or perhaps, think of something completely different, like rewards? And thus the model was born.
Dominik Bleilevens
Dominik Bleilevens@beleevens · Freelance UX Designer & Voice Enthusiast
@brian_wong When launching a startup, what's the most important thing to watch out? Have you made any mistakes when you started Kiip?
Brian Wong
Brian Wong@brian_wong · CEO, Kiip
@dbleilevens Yes, primarily around people. It's important to be constantly watching the people you bring in and the people that are already there and how they are evolving. My mistakes were also around people, you can imagine =) But I'm extremely proud of everything that Kiipers have accomplished to date, both present and past.
Justin F Harris
Justin F Harris@justinfharris · Co-Founder, Beehive
@brian_wong Hey Brian, What is your favorite place you have traveled? Where do you see the future of the rewards market going? Do you think more brands will realize the great value of rewarding their customers? Thanks!
Brian Wong
Brian Wong@brian_wong · CEO, Kiip
@justinfharris I always like to say that I don't have a favorite place, but I have a favorite part to every place I've been to. Rewards market is evolving into an engagement market. It's not just about rewards anymore, it's about acknowledging the user and providing them with relevant content/actions in the moment. It's also about instant gratification, which ties to the point before. Instant gratification means rewards don't necessarily need to be huge things, but rather things that happen that are relevant to the moment. Rewards and loyalty are going to engagement, and will be more instant gratification oriented (so less points accumulation), and more mobile-first.
Alex Carter
Alex Carter@alexcartaz · Operations @ 60dB. Ex-PH Podcasts 😻
Hi @brian_wong! I first heard about you from your TWIST episode and I was very impressed. Since you have a passion for games, I'm curious what are your favorites? Other than Twitch and Steam, video games don't seem to be disturbed by startups as often as other markets. Do you agree? If so, why do you think that is? What opportunities (other than VR) are you currently excited about at the intersect of games and startups?
Brian Wong
Brian Wong@brian_wong · CEO, Kiip
@alexcartaz I don't necessarily have any favorites. I agree that the core gaming mechanics have seen not as much disruption, and rightfully so. I think VR will disrupt the gaming industry quite a bit and I'm excited to see what comes of it. I can't think of any other areas at the moment that intersect games and startups.
Yoshi
Yoshi@dnxx28 · Freerance Engineer
@brian_wong For launching "Kiip". 1 : What did you do research about market segment and domain? 2 : How did you collaborate with big company like Coca-cola , P&G and startup like Any.do , PIKPOK?
Brian Wong
Brian Wong@brian_wong · CEO, Kiip
@dreadnoughtxx 1. I didn't over-research, that's the key. If the perfect set of validating data was available already in its entirety, you're probably not addressing a new enough of a problem. 2. I used our investors to get intros into these companies it all started snowballing from there. In the beginning, use what you have - and cold e-mail folks if you don't have a connection. My cold-emailing tip is simple: try the best combo first in the to: field like john.smith@company.com, and then try every other combo in BCC like jsmith, smith.j, john, etc - so they don't know how desperate you were and you get to see bouncebacks so you know the final winning format!
Kamil
Kamil@kamilszybalski · Growth Entrepreneur. Was @Hootsuitelabs
@brian_wong Brian, what's on your bookshelf and what are you currently reading?
Jim ZHAO
Jim ZHAO@jimzhaolong
What are some of your favorite hobbies lately??
Brian Wong
Brian Wong@brian_wong · CEO, Kiip
@jimzhaolong I have been getting into swimming, because of my knee injury from when I was younger. I also bought a new set of hockey gear and have been getting back into ice hockey (which I played for 10 years, and had stopped because of said knee injury).
Dominik Bleilevens
Dominik Bleilevens@beleevens · Freelance UX Designer & Voice Enthusiast
@brian_wong What do you think how predictive data analytics is going to change the society and user behavior?
Brian Wong
Brian Wong@brian_wong · CEO, Kiip
@dbleilevens It will change it but may homogenize the outcomes.
Dominik Bleilevens
Dominik Bleilevens@beleevens · Freelance UX Designer & Voice Enthusiast
@brian_wong When are you planning to roll out Kiip in Germany?
Brian Wong
Brian Wong@brian_wong · CEO, Kiip
@dbleilevens It's already in Germany! We are just looking for more local brands to want to reward users there. Brands buy regionally. If you know some international brands operating in Germany or local brands that are interested, let me know.
Dominik Bleilevens
Dominik Bleilevens@beleevens · Freelance UX Designer & Voice Enthusiast
@brian_wong I'm working at a relatively big marketing agency in Munich (http://webguerillas.com/en) . We're working with several brands who are mainly operating in Germany and I could suggest to use Kiip! Just get in touch if you're interested!
Sydney Liu
Sydney Liu@sydney_liu_sl · Co-Founder of Commaful.com
@brian_wong Hi Brian! Thanks for a bunch for doing this AMA :) Can you tell us a little bit about what went into building a great experience on your product? Using games and providing rewards or creating any "gamified" experience is always very difficult. What went into the early thought process for the experience and what did the product development look like when designing the experience? Thanks! Sydney
Brian Wong
Brian Wong@brian_wong · CEO, Kiip
@sydney_liu_sl We focused on the little things but less on the design initially but more on the mechanics: how often it showed, how people redeemed (and how quickly they could redeem), and what context there was to tell them how they got it. Frequency controls are crucial.
Nicki Friis
Nicki Friis@nickifriisw · Entrepreneur. Former Partner @ Ideanote.
@brian_wong Hey Brian, what do you see as the next trend/decade in customer experience in generel?
Brian Wong
Brian Wong@brian_wong · CEO, Kiip
@nickifriisw "servicing in the moment". I believe the user doesn't need to prompt or ask for anything anymore - it should know what you want before you want it.
Emily Hodgins
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
What have been some of your biggest challenges in your career so far? What hurdles have you had to overcome, and how did you overcome them?
Brian Wong
Brian Wong@brian_wong · CEO, Kiip
@ems_hodge As I mentioned to Ryan, lots around hiring. My age has less been a hurdle and more of an enabler/advantage. I always like to share that you can take some of what is perceived to be your biggest weaknesses and pull a jedi-mind trick and turn them into your biggest strengths. Age can be perceived to be a weakness, but is a strength: people expect you to be innovative, energetic, and underestimate you entirely. You can take a lot of people by surprise. You're also digitally native so you see ideas based on consumer behavior trends and habits that others may miss. By the way, I am writing a book that addresses a lot of these little tips about being an entrepreneur and much more. Publisher and title have not been announced yet but sign up for early updates here: http://brianiswritingabook.com
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
Hey Brian. Welcome. What's something you used to fervently believe that you now see was completely misguided?
Brian Wong
Brian Wong@brian_wong · CEO, Kiip
@eriktorenberg That people actually care.
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
Alex Yarnover
Alex Yarnover@littlelixie · Alex
What do you look for in new staff? And have you got any advice for anyone just finishing college?
Brian Wong
Brian Wong@brian_wong · CEO, Kiip
@littlelixie I got this from my co-founder Courtney: are they good teachers? A good teacher is a great indicator of several key things: can they understand a concept deeply enough to explain it eloquently and simply to someone else? And are they willing to share, or are gracious and humble enough with their knowledge? We also ask the question: what's your superpower? Someone who knows what they're really good at most likely has figured out how to hone in on their strength and stop trying to spend time fixing their weaknesses. That's always a good indicator that they've matured to hireable material.