I co-founded the company behind LUPO World together with Gerhard Molin in November 2016, nearly a year ago. Gerhard is the game design and education experience innovation guy, while I focus on developing these ideas into a sustainable business. We started with Gerhard’s rough idea of a game concept, LUPO, which would give teachers a role in using Minecraft in the classroom. After discussing with various possible partners, we understood that we cannot develop a sustainable business as an add-on to Minecraft, because there is already a community around Minecraft Edu at Microsoft sharing lesson plans. We needed to develop LUPO as something valuable on its own.
We embarked on a co-creation journey with a group of teachers, our initial target customers. Our pilot deck was printed in February 2017, enabling us to start testing in classrooms in Helsinki, Joensuu, and Espoo in Finland, as well as Belfast and Derry in the Northern Ireland. This was very successful and we were encouraged by the 97% net promoter score we received from teachers exposed to the game in classroom pilots and play tests. We enrolled in the xEdu accelerator program in Helsinki for the spring of 2017, which helped us especially in making the Lean Launchpad process a habit, looking for product/market fit by meeting customers systematically with hypotheses and experiments to validate them. We learned that our market is larger than teachers, so now we are also targeting schools as B2B customers as well as social gamers in general. We soft-launched the product version of LUPO at Worldcon75 to social gamers and we launched it to educators at the Dare to Learn event this week. Roughly half of the pre-orders were to educators and the other half to social gamers. We did essentially no marketing apart from the Worldcon75 stand and organic social media messaging. We shipped the pre-orders last week to 12 countries on four continents. Now it gets exciting, engaging with the first group of paying customers!
There is a story behind making your first 100 paying customers happy. Airbnb founders got this advice from Paul Graham at Y Combinator before they had any traction or investors:
It’s better to have 100 people [who] love you than finding a million who just sort of like you. Build your business one person at a time. Just focus on 100 people. If they love you, they will market the product for you and tell everyone else. Go to your users. Do one scalable thing, one person at a time. It’s actually so simple, that’s the secret… that’s all you need to do.
After creating their first 100 happy customers by personally serving each and every one of them during their six months at Y Combinator, the Airbnb founders had identified a scalable business model with apparent product/market fit. The rest is history. This is the stage we are in right now. Still burning money, but we now have a product to sell, a live web site, and the first 100 paying customers. Next, we want to create 100 happy customers by learning about who they are, what they liked, what they didn’t like, what would they like more of in terms of add-on decks, complementary materials or services, etc.
We already received some feedback, when we asked our first paying customers about the experience they had in receiving the package, as we are just ramping up our processes and need to work on the details of every part of the customer experience.
Below some extracts. This is what we are looking for, honest feedback that helps us develop our products & services. The first example is from a middle school physics teacher, who had already tried our pilot cards and was among our first paying customers:
Thanks for the fast delivery, and the stickers <3, what a nice surprise!
The package arrived today (Wednesday 30.1.2017) – package was in good shape. The box had opened a little bit, scared me first, but it’s alright now. Here’s a picture of the box.
I have to tell that I will be missing some of the planets from Pilot Edition. We will be using the magnet planet in physics, as well as the planet of eternal night. Also, I was going to introduce the media team to some of our teachers – luckily it doesn’t necessary need the cards – the idea was too good to lose. In school, there could be a whole club just doing what the media team is supposed to do, and obviously not just for the space adventure, for school happenings as well. Media team has a nice ring to it.
One more thing, this fall we started a new course that students can choose-it’s called the wormhole. We described the course “everything between earth and sky”, obviously those two things don’t restrict us xD. We started the course with “LUPO: The Space Adventure” – to get our heads in the zone where we can be ridiculous for the rest of the course. We expanded the adventure for two double classes (90+90 min). After this we’re going to find out what the students want to start exploring in our universe.
Thanks for the amazing Space Adventure – it’s perfect for our course! Next, I’m starting to think how can I use it to every group that I teach (math and physics) so that it will also teach something about math and/or physics.
(By the way, the magnet planet is included in the new deck. We are going to do something to make the package move less in the bubble envelope.)
And here is another, from a board gamer, who also left our first ***** review on Amazon.co.uk:
So far, we love it. I played it on Saturday with 4 friends and they all seem to enjoy it quite a lot. Only feedback I might have (not sure if accurate), is that at some point the game focuses a lot on building things, and other roles related to planning or diplomats do not seem as fun as the one who is building things with materials, so the focus get mostly on building for all players even though it is the role of only one person. Still a very fun experience and I will keep playing it. Thank you for coming up with a great game.
(We encourage players to adapt the rules to their liking. Every role can build in a team effort!)
So now I would like to invite all you, who have our deck, to write back to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Give us your feedback. If you don’t yet have our deck, you can now order it worldwide directly from our own online store in Finland, as well from Amazon UK and Amazon US with free shipping in UK and US, and give us feedback after you have tried it. Let’s go the next stage together. Our next event is the German ComicCon in Berlin, September 30-October 1, 2017, so looking forward to seeing more of you there.
I will be following up on our startup adventure learning experiences in this blog from time to time, hopefully on a weekly basis. Until next time!
Author: Nouri Mikko Werdi