PerBlue Featured on Forbes

Capital Entrepreneurs member company PerBlue was recently featured on Forbes. The article featured PerBlue Co-Founder and CEO Justin Beck as he tells the story of launching PerBlue from his college apartment in 2008. The article dives deep into the early history and culture of PerBlue, and many of the obstacles the core team faced.

“The first year and half was spent bootstrapping, working for no pay and carrying few operating costs — with the exception of an occasional pizza or domain name.”

The article was originally published in the Entrepreneurs section of Forbes. The full article can be found here.

PerBlue Launches Parallel Mafia

CE founding member PerBlue launched their latest mobile game today. The deep, location-based RPG titled Parallel Mafia is the first major addition to PerBlue’s family of “Parallel” games since 2008. Parallel Mafia joins the successful Parallel Kingdom, which now has over 1 million players worldwide.

Set in a futuristic and crime-ridden world, Parallel Mafia players battle chaos and corruption to conquer their real world location. By completing jobs and claiming territory, mobsters gain influence and rise through the ranks to become a Mafia Boss. These mafiosos arm themselves with cyborg technologies and attempt to spread their influence, all while avoiding the heat of the menacing Apex Agency.

Check out the official press release and additional media coverage here.

CE Members Named Top People Under 40

Multiple Capital Entrepreneurs members were recently named to the InBusiness 40 Under 40 list, as well as the Wisconsin Alumni Association’s Forward Under 40 list for 2012.

Forrest Woolworth of mobile and social gaming startup PerBlue was the youngest person named to the 2012 InBusiness 40 Under 40 class. He is an original team member and current Brand Director of PerBlue, and is a Co-Founder and primary organizer of Capital Entrepreneurs. He joins Capital Entrepreneurs members Scott Kohl, Scott Resnick, Justin Beck, Dale Beerman, Sukara Sterling, and Nathan Lustig who were named to previous InBusiness Top 40 Under 40 classes.

Scott Resnick and Jon Hardin of web and mobile developer Hardin Design and Development were named to the 2012 UW Alumni Association’s Forward Under 40 list. The Forward Under 40 is a short list of top UW alumni that exemplify the Wisconsin Idea. Hardin serves as President and CEO, and Resnick serves as VP of Hardin Design and Development, and both are founding members of Capital Entrepreneurs.

2011 Recap: PerBlue

The year of 2011 was a fast paced and exciting one at PerBlue. Our company and products both saw huge growth, and we transitioned from a small startup to a growing company. We started the year with 12 full time employees in a brand new office space that had so much room we didn’t know what to do with it all.

We’ve ramped up quickly and now employ 36 full time people, including developers, artists, analysts, support, and more. N00b lunches were frequent and for much of the year we were adding a new employee each week. During the Summer we had some awesome weekly grillouts and played a lot of volleyball and Frisbee. We had a ton of fun (especially Halloween), and for Christmas everyone got a Wii.

In the world of Parallel Kingdom, we completed a number of milestones. We cleared 500,000 players in June, and we celebrated 1,000 days of gameplay in July. Much of the year was spent focusing on making Parallel Kingdom the best location based RPG in the world. We saw a lot of success and are now closing in on 1 million players. We were a finalist for Best Mobile Game in the Mashable Awards, rated as one of the top 10 Best Mobile MMOs, and also rated as a top 10 Best Cross-platform Multiplayer Mobile Game.

Parallel Kingdom held a number of innovative in-game events throughout the year. We introduced virtual Trick or Treating where players could go house to house and collect candy – or potentially spawn a dangerous Monster. We covered the world in virtual snow that could be used to throw snowballs or build snow forts. We even provided over 3,000 real world meals to children and families in need through in-game Thanksgiving and African famine relief charity drives.

Our CEO Justin Beck spoke at TEDxMadtown where he gave a talk on social games and virtual currencies. Justin also gave a presentation at this year’s Forward Technology Conference, and presented his College 101 advice to freshman engineers at the UW. Brand Director Forrest Woolworth was on a panel about entrepreneurship at the Wisconsin Science Festival, and Justin and Forrest anchored another entrepreneurship panel at the Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium.

We participated in Accelerate Madison, helped organize and sponsor Build Madison, were part of numerous UW campus events, and even organized a holiday board games drive to benefit area hospitals. We attended conferences all over the world, including the main GDC in San Francisco, GDC Europe, and GDC China. Justin was even selected to present the PerBlue story at the 2012 GDC in San Francisco.

We definitely had an exciting 2011, and we have a lot more exciting things in store for 2012. Follow along on the PerBlue Blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

PerBlue CEO Featured on Tech Cocktail

PerBlue co-founder and CEO (and CE co-founder) Justin Beck was featured recently on Tech Cocktail. Tech Cocktail covers startups, entrepreneurs, and apps. The article highlights Justin’s journey from student to business owner, and includes insight on his experience building PerBlue. The article even includes a shout-out to Capital Entrepreneurs.

“The way I see my CEO role of a bootstrapped business is you do anything that the company needs. Whatever bridge is burning at the moment is what you need to put your focus in so the whole company doesn’t fold,” says Beck.

Check out the full article here.

Advice For College Entrepreneurs

Justin Beck and Forrest Woolworth of PerBlue were recently featured on Young Go Getter – a blog for young entrepreneurs. Justin and Forrest offered their perspective and advice for college aged entrepreneurs, including: why it’s sometimes scary to be an entrepreneur, why you should be sharing your ideas, and more.

Read the full post here.

What “Churn” Does For a Community

Guest post by Justin Beck. Justin is the co-founder and CEO of PerBlue, a Madison based mobile and social gaming company.

What does Silicon Valley have a lot of? Churn. Entrepreneurs found a company then move on to work at another company as a VP or create another company. Then they move on to be an angel investor to other companies. While churn can be particularly annoying for an employer, it is ultimately good for the community as a whole. When people get too settled or stagnant, they become unproductive and there is no cross pollination of ideas or proactive growing.

The best form of success for an entrepreneur is to create churn. We need to inspire passion for entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs need to instill their own lessons learned along the way to early stage employees. The ability to look past the P&L statements and the sunk costs of losing an employee in order to inspire other entrepreneurs will allow us to create more churn within the community and drive real value into Madison.

To find out more about churn and why it’s important, read Justin’s full post on the topic here.

CE Outreach @ Platteville

The UW-Platteville Entrepreneurship Program is hosting Capital Entrepreneurs members Justin Beck and Forrest Woolworth of PerBlue, Chris Meyer of Sector67, and Mike Fenchel of 7Cees this week for “Meet ‘n Eat with an Entrepreneur.” The event brings together young entrepreneurs to speak about their journeys as business owners and what it takes to put ideas in motion.

We’ll be participating one-on-one with students to discuss the success and challenges we face every day as entrepreneurs. After dinner, students team up to brainstorm new business ideas, and then give 2 minute pitches to Justin and Chris.

The event is Wednesday, October 19th from 5 until 8PM. Dinner is free for UW-Platteville students, and will be held at Ullsvik Hall in the Nohr Gallery. Registration is open for students, but space is limited.

PerBlue’s “Food for Good” Campaign Provides Meals For 2,500 Drought Victims

CE member PerBlue – a mobile and social gaming company, and PlayMob – a London based social company for gaming and doing good through games, paired last month for a unique fundraising campaign benefiting SOS Children. The virtual giving initiative resulted in a donaion of over 2500 meal vouchers for orphans affected by the droughts in Marsabit, a district in North Kenya.

During the campaign, players of PerBlue’s popular MMORPG game, Parallel Kingdom (PK) purchased the Soup Can Hat – a limited edition in-game object – using virtual currency. The hat was available for two weeks in September and sold for 550 ‘Food’, and a portion of the contribuions were then turned into real meal vouchers for SOS Children relief efforts in Kenya.

Check out the full release here and view the InfoGraphic.

CE Members to be Featured on Entrepreneur Panel

CE members Forrest Woolworth of PerBlue, Chris Meyer of Sector67, and Troy Vosseller of Sconnie will be featured on an entrepreneurship panel this Sunday, September 25th at the Wisconsin Science Festival. Also joining them will be Heather Hilleren of LocalDirt. The 4 day festival wraps up on Sunday with a day focused on entrepreneurship, and will feature the panel discussion and a screening of The Social Network.

Local filmmaker and entrepreneur John Roach will lead a panel discussion featuring Madison-area entrepreneurs, exploring the themes of startup culture, innovation and creativity. Meet UW entrepreneurs from all fields, hear about their successes and failures, and learn what’s next on the horizon for them. After the panel, stay for a free screening of “The Social Network,” the 2010 hit movie charting the rise of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook.

The event will be held at the Town Center of the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery.

PerBlue Visits Startup Chile

Forrest Woolworth of PerBlue visited Nathan Lustig and Jesse Davis of Entrustet in their Santiago, Chile office last week (both are CE member companies). Based in Madison, Entrustet has been operating from Santiago since November after being one of only 25 startups selected from around the world to participate in the Startup Chile program.

Startup Chile is a program started by the Chilean government to attract entrepreneurs to the country and ultimately increase local entrepreneurial activity. The program provides companies with a $40,000 subsidy, office space, visas, and more. Companies must operate from Chile for 6 months. Startup Chile has attracted a lot of press, and has established Chile as the entrepreneurial hotspot of South America.

Back in the US, President Obama recently announced Startup America, an initiative to “celebrate, inspire, and accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship throughout the nation.”

“Entrepreneurs embody the promise of America: the idea that if you have a good idea and are willing to work hard and see it through, you can succeed in this country. And in fulfilling this promise, entrepreneurs also play a critical role in expanding our economy and creating jobs.”
-President Barack Obama

The initiatives of Startup America are a great start, but could also having a program similar to Startup Chile (that provides subsides and support directly to startups) help even more in attracting and creating new startups at the local level (particularly in Madison)? Could we pull off a Startup Madison and establish Madison as even more of a startup hotspot?

2010 Recap: PerBlue

The year of 2010 proved to be a very active and successful one for PerBlue. Our company and products have grown and matured much over the year. We’ve generated a lot of attention in the gaming industry and have established an increasing presence there. We are now one of the largest gaming studios in Wisconsin.

We completed our $800,000 Series A funding round in September. We’ve capitalized on this to grow the company and have doubled size of our team. PerBlue now employs 12 full time and 2 part time people and recently moved into some new spacious office space to accommodate our growing team. We were a finalist at midVenturesLAUNCH, our CEO Justin Beck was named one of the Top 40 Executives Under 40 by InBusiness Magazine, and Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle even gave us some props, saying:

“PerBlue, Inc. is built on a foundation of innovative technology and strong leadership. I am very excited to support a company that represents the future of Wisconsin’s economy.”

The mobile and social gaming space saw explosive growth this year and is now well over a billion dollar industry. The social gaming space on Facebook has exposed millions of players to a new type of gaming. The iTunes App Store and Android Market have hundreds of thousands of applications. These new types of games have become adopted by mainstream society and integrated into our daily lives. There have even been some interesting TED talks on the positive effects games have on the brain and society overall.

Our flagship product, Parallel Kingdom, saw rapid growth this year. After clearing a milestone 100,000 users in February, we now have over 285,000 users world wide. The newest age, the Age of Thrones, was launched in October. This age includes a whole bunch of really cool new features that add a whole new level of social interaction in the game.

We also launched the beta of our newest game on Facebook. It’s an adventure puzzle game called Looty where you are a treasure hunter immersed in a jungle on the quest for gold and gems. We also have some other games in the pipeline that will be launching in the coming months.

We are very excited about the upcoming year. As the mobile and social gaming space continues to evolve, look for continued enhancements to our current games as well as the launch of new titles. We hope to build on our success from 2010 and continue to innovate by making fun, innovative, and engaging games.

Contributed by Forrest Woolworth of PerBlue.

PerBlue Launches 4th Age for Mobile Game Parallel Kingdom

Forrest Woolworth of PerBlue emailed me today to let me know that they just launched their third age of their popular mobile game Parallel Kingdom.  Parallel Kingdom is a mobile, location based, MMORPG, or Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game.  PerBlue recently closed an $800,000 funding round and has been using the money to continue to grow their flagship game, Parallel Kingdom.

Launched in October 2008, Parallel Kingdom now has over 250,000 users from around the globe.  PK is one of the first games that allows users to interact in a game and in the real world at the same time.

The fourth age, called Age of Thrones, adds the new Kingdoms feature.  “Since Parallel Kingdom’s conception two years ago, we knew we wanted to let players build entire Kingdoms,” PerBlue CEO Justin Beck said. “We took our time to make sure it was done right. In my opinion, Kingdoms are the deepest and most social feature of their kind in any mobile game.”

Kingdoms will allow small and large groups to officially organize. Players work together to build and run their Kingdom by strategically allocating resources, managing diplomatic relationships, and of course, waging war. All Kingdoms will be ranked globally on their war victories as well as their overall influence.

Parallel Kingdom is available for free on the iPhone and Android.  PerBlue generates revenue by selling their virtual currency, Food, which allows users to acquire new weapons, abilities and powers.

Wisconsin Governor Certifies PerBlue as Qualified New Business Venture

Fresh off raising $800,000 in angel investment, Capital Entrepreneurs member company PerBlue is at it again.  Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle certified PerBlue, making it eligible for 25% tax credits for angels investing in the company.  From the link:

Governor Jim Doyle announced today that PerBlue, Inc., Waunakee, Dane County, has received the Qualified New Business Venture certification from the Department of Commerce (Commerce) for developing cell phone and social gaming software.

The company’s certification by Commerce makes investors in PerBlue, Inc. eligible for a 25-percent tax credit on the amount they invest in the company.

“My administration is committed to helping businesses with their efforts to support new economic development opportunities,” Governor Doyle said. “PerBlue, Inc. is built on a foundation of innovative technology and strong leadership. I am very excited to support a company that represents the future of Wisconsin’s economy.”

For additional information about the Qualified New Business Venture program, please visit http://www.commerce.state.wi.us/bd/BD-Act255-QNBV.html.

PerBlue Raises $800,000 Angel Round from Golden Angels and West Coast Angels

Capital Entrepreneurs founding member PerBlue just closed an $800,000 angel round led by Tim Keane‘s Golden Angels out of Milwaukee and other angel groups from San Francisco and Seattle.  PerBlue is a social gaming company that creates mobile games for iPhone, Android and other mobile platforms.  Their flagship product, Parallel Kingdom, has over 200k users around the world.

From Kathleen Gallagher’s article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Investors in the round included angels from Seattle and San Francisco, said Justin Beck, PerBlue Inc.’s 23-year-old chief executive officer.

PerBlue manages a multi-player game called Parallel Kingdom that uses players’ GPS locations to place them in a virtual world. If you fire up the free application on your Android or iPhone in downtown Milwaukee, that’s where you are in the game.

Players wield weapons, hunt creatures, master combat training and other skills and have opportunities to do things such as form alliances, control territory and establish cities. They move around by either physically traveling to new locations or making friends who invite them to travel to new places.

PerBlue has nine employees and makes money by selling “food” to its more than 200,000 player accounts, Beck said.

Location-based games are “white hot” because of the popularity of social media outlets such as Foursquare, Gowalla and Booyah, said Richard Kain, general manager of TriplePoint PR and a San Francisco-area angel investor who participated in the funding round.

PerBlue on LiveWire 2.0

PerBlue’s Parallel Kingdom was on LiveWire 2.0.  From the link:

Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) is the reference for application developers at the moment, as the App Store has reached critical mass. The natural inclination, then, is the subject of the iPhone – and by extension, the IPAD.

“The process of Apple’s approval to enter the App Store can be a mystery with little feedback from them, and they do not make any guarantees about the time that the application will sit in queue for review,” Andy Gilbertson, Vice President marketing PerBlue, a developer of mobile games, said TechNewsWorld.

“When we launched the latest version of the” Parallel Kingdom, which attempted to place long enough for Apple’s approval process, but ends up being a guessing game and guess wrong, “he said. “As a result, our version of Android hit the market about two weeks before the Apple version is approved.”

In a game like “Parallel Kingdom” – in real time, the persistent world game – two weeks is a lifetime.

“Many of our players, Apple has become very frustrated users of Android were getting such a huge advantage, and I’m sure that some players lost as a result,” Gilbertson concluded.

Capital Entrepreneurs Featured in Techcrunch

Steve Faulkner of GeoHuddle was invited to write a guest post about startup culture in Madison.  He wrote an article called Wisconsin: Beer, Cheese and…Startups, which included Capital Entrepreneurs, GeoHuddle, Networked Insights, Entrustet, Virent, PerBlue and Alice.  It’s great to see Madison being recognized as one of the new, up and coming hotbeds of entrepreneurship and technology startups.  From the article:

Most people associate Wisconsin with cheese and beer, but you should think about adding startups to that list. Led by a tidal wave of mostly young entrepreneurs, Madison, Wisconsin is staking a claim as the startup capital of the Midwest. Madison was recently ranked as the 7th most innovative city in the country by Forbes magazine – just above perennial powerhouse Boston, MA.

Several key organizations are driving the growing startup community. Capital Entrepreneurs is a group of over 56 companies that meet on a regular basis to help founders network and develop connections. MERLIN Mentors provides free mentoring services to new startups. Applicants are assigned a team of experienced entrepreneurs who help founders navigate many of the challenges facing a new company. These groups, along with the University of Wisconsin, are fostering a great culture for new startups.