The speech circuit of PulsoConf came to a close this afternoon with Brian Wong. Founder and CEO of mobile rewards network kiip, Wong is recognized as the youngest person to ever receive funding from a venture capital firm and is an expert in online and social media marketing. Today, he presented kiip Getting Lucky, discussing the idea of luck as something of which one can actually control.
Wong, a designer at heart, started out giving a bit of his own background. In 2010, Wong moved to California to work at Digg. There, he worked with like-minded professionals and witnessed an environment in which opportunities were abound. His experience was, however, short-lived – after five months with Digg, he was laid off. Subsequently, he moved in with his parents and started to work out his next move.
A travel lover, Wong noticed the prevalence of gaming in every locale he visited. He also noted how poorly advertising in games was handled. He began to dissect games and eventually had an epiphany: achievement moments, those instances of happiness and excitement, were a huge opportunity. Thus, work on kiip commenced.
Now, kiip has been in existence for two years and thus far proven hugely successful. The company has received US$15.5 million in investments to date and is behind 140 million monthly moments in the United States alone. It boasts 44 million unique visits each month and a reward every six seconds.
As to what’s next for kiip, Wong said that his team will continue to zone in on the market of providing rewards in everyday life. Giving users both tangible and digital prizes for their actions, he will move forward in tapping into something that is at the very core of human nature – happiness.
A Letterman-esque Top 10 for Entrepreneurs
During the second half of his chat, Wong expounded a 10-item list of entrepreneurial essentials:
1. Just start. Wong told attendees to go for it, start playing and jump off the cliff, saying, “You can grow wings while you’re falling.”
2. Surround yourself with other lucky people. In other words, network.
3. Choose a really big field. Wong encourages entrepreneurs to go after broad, growing and fast markets – he highlighted gaming, rewards, mobile and advertising. What’s important is choosing an angle and creating a product with effects that a user can see.
4. User your superpower. Everyone has a talent and thing they’re good at – instead of spending time working on weaknesses, develop what you do best.
5. Make a game with less players. Though Wong attacked a large market, he did so in a completely innovative way. He told the audience to figure out a way to carve out a sector where it’s possible to be the best and maintain the lead. Show people that the category means something, and think beyond yourself.
6. Remove unlucky from your vocabulary. Understand that luck is relative and that failure is an excellent opportunity to learn.
7. Luck is relative. Wong pointed out that kiip began with rewards that were physical and tangible things – something they quickly realized was not scalable. The company has since shifted to digital rewards, keeping a positive outlook and pivoting accordingly.
8. Use what normally gets you lucky. Business meetings, according to Wong, can be a good place to practice one’s flirting skills. In other words, what normally gets you lucky in **certain areas** will likely get you lucky in business as well.
9. Make people lucky. What goes around comes around, even in business, so help others, give back, and, come on, answer e-mails.
10. See luck. Two years ago, Wong was in a tough position – he had been laid off, moved back in with his parents, and had no idea what was to come. Such circumstances are a good chance to get some perspective and move forward.
Wong’s speech came at the end of an insightful, enjoyable and thought-provoking conference agenda. A young entrepreneur himself, Wong experienced serious struggles prior to coming into spectacular success. He’s lived the ups and downs, the highs and lows, and has formulated a philosophy of luck-turned-serendipity that renders him one of the startup ecosystem’s most intriguing characters.