Participation in AppCampus program
Hello everyone, my name is Dmitrii Ogorodnikov, I'm working in Brainy Studio LLC from March 2014, and in July 2014 we were able to conquer the world's largest technology competition Imagine Cup 2014 with a prototype of our game. How it was you can see here. In addition to this victory, then we learned that we finally passed into the program AppCampus and in September we had to go through a two-week training program at the University of Aalto in Finland. This meant that our game TurnOn will live thanks to help of one of the world's largest mobile applications accelerator, organized by the Microsoft jointly with Nokia. But let's go in order.
What is AppCampus and MAAC
So, AppCampus was first organized in May 2012, its duration was to be 3 years, one of its objectives was to promote the development of high quality applications to the then new OS Windows Phone, at this moment first Nokia Lumia came. The program exists now, but Microsoft think about extend or end program.
Participation gives the possibility of obtaining a grant in the amount of 20 000, 50 000 and 70 000 euros, depending on the complexity of the application, a requirement for participation is a registered company, the entire process of participation in the program is divided into several stages:
- Online application submission;
- Design document preparation (release version final description);
- Receive 30% of the grant as a result of the approval design-document;
- Preparation of the application for release, a two-week internship in educational accelerator AppCademy, quality assurance by expert team, application release;
- Receive 70% of the grant;
- Promotion campaign on the platform, 90 days of exclusivity for Windows Phone;
In 2013 we developed our first game WitchCraft and were ready to participate in the Imagine Cup, there we heard about AppCampus for the first time. We turned to the official website of the program, looked at all the sections and the criteria to enter the program, and without much hope of success we sent the first submission. The result was logical, we did not pass, but we decided to try again later.
In 2014 we decided to once again participate in the Imagine Cup with a new game TurnOn. By mid-May, we have successfully overcame the regional and Russian stage and waited for qualifying for the international final, at this point Microsoft and Nokia announced other activities - Mobile App Acceleration Camp (MAAC), designed to help start-ups get funding from AppCampus. For two days, a group of experts in the field of design, marketing, technology and business was to help participants make any necessary improvements to the prototype or the idea of the application. Participation in the MAAC would make our chances to get a grant AppCampus bigger. We passed in a short-list and in mid-May went to Moscow. There we formed the second submission, tried to consider all the mistakes of the previous attempt and received a lot of useful tips, but again did not receive a positive response, however did not get any at all.
June 6, we were informed that we will represent Russia at the Imagine Cup Finals in Seattle, in the frame of the finals were few nominations for all participants, among them was AppCampus Awards. We sent the third submission. Few hours before the announcement of the results of the international Imagine Cup finals in Seattle we learned that we are finally in the program.
To say that we were delighted - to say nothing!
Summarizing this part: preparing applications was exhausting time after time, lack of feedback about what is wrong with us was discouraged. Also there were a lack of experience of participation in such programs, lacked English proficiency and understanding of our business model, which we plan to enter the market, but we were persistent and did not give up. Perhaps our participation and the level of preparing in the Imagine Cup Finals most of all affected on the decision to take us in AppCampus, but nevertheless all the formalities with the request stage have been met, which meant that we finally managed to formalize our ideas and thoughts on paper.
Here should be a special talk about the request, which was viewed by certain criteria:
- You must have a vision of the final product and MVP separately, it have been confirmed by Project Proposal;
- It is recommended that the app has been exclusive to the platform;
- You must have an understanding of the business model, the market and key competitors;
- The app must have a set of key advantages that distinguish your app from the competitors;
- The team applying for a grant should have development experience on Windows Phone or other platforms, this experience must be confirmed by the number of installations of its previous apps;
- The presence of a prototype / demo applications, video and other materials are welcome;
- The presence of a calendar and marketing plan of app development is encouraged.
The request was prepared exclusively in English, in addition we used the data warehouse, where we gathered all the key information on the app because it wasn't possible to attach everything to the email. This problem was solved with the help of our own website, where we have placed most of this information, as well as by using Dropbox and its possibility to share links.
Preparation of the request by the criteria made us pay attention to the weaknesses in the development of our game, we were able to organize our work to change some of the processes in a team, regardless of the outcome, we received a detailed action plan, which is now with the support of the program gradually realized.
Now, after a positive decision and formalities, we began to prepare for the trip. We have applied for a visa, we managed to get a six-month business visa to Finland due to an official invitation, and bought tickets. Participation in the program involved the participation of one official team member, receiving side took on the cost of up to 1000 euros. Part-time employment at the Perm National Research Polytechnic University helped us arrange a business trip for one more person, so all travel and accommodation expenses we have covered.
September 14th I and Evgenii Romijn went to Helsinki via Moscow, in the evening we were already in the hostel, shortly before departure we got a schedule of activities, using maps have found a place where the next day we had to come. Except our team in autumn set were still 18 teams from Italy, Chile, Spain, Finland, Brazil, Thailand, Vietnam, Hungary, Singapore and Taiwan, some of them have already got 30% of the grant, because they received a positive answer in the spring, not as we in the summer.
Early in the morning we went to the place, on the way out of the windows we saw offices of Supercell, Rovio and Microsoft headquarters in Finland and inspired by it. AppSpase are located in one of the campuses of the University of Aalto in Espoo, about 30 minutes by bus from Helsinki.
worked pitches before and during the almost daily meetings with potential investors, journalists and experts of the program;
learned Canvas hybrid model for mobile applications and the principle of Lean Startup;
finally formed necessary documents for participation in the program and get an idea of how should look like a design document;
listened to a big number of workshops and training sessions on how to enter the markets of different countries using various services of the metrics and analytics, found out the form of support and featuring for apps, which will be organized and etc.
The next 3 days we spent in Tallinn, where we went on the stunning ferry.
There we took part in Game Jam Tallinn, in fact it was an international hackathon, as a result of which formed teams made games for 48 hours, the grand prize of 1,000 euros in cash was divided between the team members, which included participants from AppCampus Vietnam and Brazil, according to their page on Facebook, you can even download and play "Color Ninja".
In Tallinn, we were able to take a break from a very useful educational workshops of internships first days, here we saw a small, but extremely beautiful medieval capital of Estonia, took a walk in its center, sat in the atmospheric old town restaurants, and even ate the bear, enjoyed the views of a dynamic and fast growing European capital.
On Sunday evening on the same ferry, we headed back to Helsinki, where another whole week of hard work waited for us. First we visited the Microsoft headquarters in Finland, there we were told about where the company is moving today, visited the museum of Nokia and drank free coffee. Amusing fact, though it's clear why: renaming of Nokia Lumia to Microsoft Lumia had to be less than a month, but nobody said us about it. But, having been there, it is absolutely obvious that with the advent of Microsoft this mobile giant got a whole new life (not commercial, but just a personal opinion).
Next, series of events in the same ruthless regime was waiting for us, it was dedicated to the monetization of applications on a platform Windows Phone and work with specialized media, as well as some other tools and instruments for promoting. With every employee of the program we were able to communicate in person at the 1on1s sessions, it is worth noting that some of the members of the expert team in the past were startups that have achieved some success with their apps on the platform.
A landmark event for all participants was the visit to the alma mater of Angry Birds - the world famous company Rovio Mobile Ltd., whose office is located near the university campus (by the way the whole building belongs to Rovio). Manager for Brazil told us about the features of the Latin American market, as well as about latest updates of the brand (at that point Rovio was getting ready to release Angry Birds: Transformers).
During the last day held a small exhibition projects graduates AppCademy, it was visited by a large number of journalists and industry professionals, organizers summed up the past internships, all of us got certificates of its passage.
In the evening, after the exhibition we were invited in Rovio to meet with Peter Vesterbacka, Mighty Eagle of "Angry Birds", who is actually co-founder of the company and its face, the mastermind, as well as CMO. The meeting was held in an informal setting, to not agitate the minds, the results of the meeting we'll leave with us. I can say only one thing: private conversation with Peter gave us a huge charge of motivation as soon as possible to launch TurnOn.
The next day, all participants began to disperse to their homelands or to see the city, since it almost wasn't time for it during that two weeks. Our friends from Brazil went to St. Petersburg, they took the opportunity to visit the northern capital of Russia for three days in the presence of European visas, and we went home full of energy and motivation to work.
Summary and Conclusions
In conclusion, I want to express my gratitude to the AppCampus team and to all participants of the autumn set. Many readers, especially fans of the iOS / Android skeptical of Windows Phone, saying that this platform is hopeless. We, as a young indie game studio, definitely are planning to go to alternative for WP platforms, but right here we found out the possibility to launch and establish our company, Microsofts loyalty to young startups attracts and motivates to grow, as well as support and featuring reinforce the intended result. Ultimately, it would be great if in the short term, our studio with our game TurnOn, which was recently launched on the Windows Phone and after the expiration of the exclusivity will be released on other platforms, find ourselves in the same row with the developers of such hits as Monument Valley, Rayman Legend and Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack.
Now, when we passed the Q&A processes of the competent team of the program, released the game and got the second part of the grant, we look forward for your feedback on our game, in addition, we are opened for the dialogue and invite everyone to follow the development of TurnOn, which in fact in early access, in our social networks and our blog. Sure we will be happy to see new amazing reviews on TurnOn.
You can find us here: https://www.appcampus.fi/apps/
Blog - http://brainy.pro/
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