Secrets of one of America’s Most Promising Companies

Posted: March 20, 2012 in Industry News, Interviews
Tags: , ,

As told to Forbes by Gregory Short and Geoffrey Zatkin, co-founders of EEDAR.

What is the hardest challenge your company has faced to date? Have you overcome it? If so, specifically how?

At EEDAR, our hardest challenge was tied directly to our greatest strength. As a result of our massive proprietary videogame database, EEDAR is able to provide the videogame industry with both a completely new way to evaluate the potential profitability of game titles and a set of highly advanced data analysis tools.

The challenge was teaching an entire industry about more accurate, efficient and comprehensive tools available for making critical business decisions than what was used for the past 20 years: experience and gut instinct-based decision making.

EEDAR continues to work on overcoming this enormous challenge of educating clients on the benefits of data-driven decision making through building strong client relationships, frequent training sessions, strategic use of the press and, most importantly, ensuring our products and services deliver the results our clients require.

Which company/entrepreneur do you model your business after and why?

As a start-up company, EEDAR closely followed many of the principles espoused by Guy Kawasaki in his book The Art of the Start. EEDAR was already on the right track to an extent, but three key lessons from Mr. Kawasaki’s work helped us focus our efforts more productively.

Firstly, EEDAR strove to be a company of meaning; We wanted EEDAR to be a company that would be a positive change for the entire videogame industry, not just another research firm.

Secondly, EEDAR began the process of creating products from our unique dataset very early. This allowed us to identify which ones would help us achieve positive cash flow in the shortest period of time (and still leaves us with a product road map to keep us busy for at least the next three years!).

Lastly, but perhaps most importantly: Formulate win-win partnerships. EEDAR made a conscious choice early to reach out to companies that might have been potential competitors and find ways to make each company stronger through cooperation and strategic alignment. These collaborations have ultimately helped our customers gain a much greater value from both EEDAR and other data partners whilst addressing early potential competition that could have been harmful to growth.

What is the riskiest decision you have had to make thus far? What specifically did you learn?

EEDAR’s riskiest decision was choosing which products to build first. With such a unique set of data about the videogame industry, knowing exactly which market would bring in revenue to support the ongoing operation of the business was a big choice. Do we build our risk assessment products first? Data convergence tools? Sales projections? Market analysis? Recommendation technology? With finite resources and limited initial funding, it was a make-or-break choice early on.

The key lesson we learned from this had two parts. Firstly we learned the importance of using your network and advisers. Don’t be afraid to ask others what they would use most. Our second lesson was scarier: Make sure that you are getting information from the people who make purchasing decisions. Ultimately no matter what product you build or how you sell it, if you can’t deliver a product that meets the needs of the budget holder, you aren’t going to get very far.

How many hours a week do you work? What takes up the most time? What do you wish you had more time to do?

During our early years we worked “until it was done.” We would discuss our goals and then set milestones and work until we hit it. This was the key to continuing to move forward without being side-tracked as client requests began to push certain work in new directions. Nowadays most of the founders work around 60 hours per week.

At EEDAR we were fortunate to have two co-founders. There’s no way one person could ever have done all the work (and we still wish for clones during the busy videogame holiday season!). If we could have more time it would probably be to spend with our families, since work is still a consuming part of our lives. We treat this as a goal, however, rather than a gripe!

What is the best part about being an entrepreneur? The worst?

The best part of being an entrepreneur is being able to take something that is just an idea or concept and make it real. A key part of this is being able to bring together motivated, talented people who believe in the company’s goal. At EEDAR we are incredibly proud of the talented individuals who all play a key part in our success.

Of course, this is also the worst part of being an entrepreneur: Ultimately you take responsibility for the livelihoods of all your employees, and during the tough times of cash-flow droughts or key deadlines it can be a heavy burden to know that the staff and their families are dependent on your leadership and management skills to deliver success.

Are you currently looking for funding? If so, how much and for what purposes, specifically?

EEDAR is always looking for strategic opportunities. As we expand beyond being a North American-focused company to provide services on a global scale, we are looking for the right partnerships (either strategic or financial) to support this. Since we are now a profitable company, however, we don’t have to settle for anything that isn’t 100% aligned with our goals and objectives. Stable, organic growth is just fine with us if that’s what is best long-term.

Are you hiring, and specifically for what areas?

EEDAR is currently not actively looking for new hires. Of course, we are constantly keeping our eyes open for staff who might be the right fit for our company. We’ve grown from two people to more than 20 in just a few years, and are incredibly happy to have avoided any shrinkage during the tough economy of the last year.

What uncommonly good advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Know how you are going to make money. It isn’t just enough to think something is a cool new idea. You have to know early exactly how you are going to monetize this new idea into products and services. You need to know how and when the budgets are allocated, what the price thresholds are for your potential clients and what needs to be delivered to ensure repeat business. If you can’t answer all those questions in detail before you start, then you’ll end wasting time and money–which are the two most precious resources any start-up has.

What is your ultimate goal (to change the world, to go public, to put your kids in business, etc.)?

EEDAR has a fairly simple goal: to make the videogame industry more profitable and creative.

EEDAR continues to work toward this by allowing companies in the videogame industry to perform more efficient development of new videogames through informed risk-taking and decision making based on objective, fact-driven due diligence.

What specifically did you learn about your business from taking the America’s Most Promising Companies survey?

In taking the America’s Most Promising Company’s survey, the most significant thing we learned was how far EEDAR has been able to grow as a business since its inception in 2006. It was very rewarding to see how EEDAR has matured from just an idea to one of the world’s leading research firms in the videogame industry and to take a moment to be proud of our accomplishments.

Article credited to: Ten Questions for EEDAR, at

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