BizSpark: Tell us who you are and your role in the company:
Mike Gardiner: I’m the Founder of Lime Rocket and the lead developer for our flagship gaming & engagement product Buzzy.IO. As a founder my role also stretches across product & customer development.
BizSpark: What did you do before creating your company?
Mike Gardiner: I worked as a lead developer for Accenture on a re-write of Australia’s biggest gaming (gambling) websites that involved more than 100 developers across 3 continents.
BizSpark: What is your company’s mission?
Mike Gardiner: To connect people through playful & social experiences via their SmartPhone.
BizSpark: in 140 characters or less, tell us what your company does:
Mike Gardiner: We develop multi-screen social games & apps that enable interactivity with other connected devices like Smart TVs and digital Cinema screens.
BizSpark: How did you get the idea for your company?
Mike Gardiner: I had created a few multi-platform mobile apps in early 2011 and saw opportunities for mobile to Smart TV interaction on the horizon. I wanted to build a strong team that could look ahead and solve problems that wouldn’t even exist for most developers for another 24 months.
I had a few interesting ideas for social drawing apps & games and believed I could deliver real time P2P connectivity across multiple platforms and devices and use this to encourage people to connect to others close by through social games.
So to find out I quit my job with a big software company, cancelled our holidays & invested everything I had into a mobile gaming & app startup (Lime Rocket). 3 months later I had a social drawing game prototype that allowed people to play in real time across iOS, Android, Desktop & Samsung Smart TV. I play tested this prototype in every public place I could and the response was amazing so I kept going, hired more developers & artists and set about creating our own flagship universe Buzzy Republic.
BizSpark: In 140 characters or less, tell us what your app does:
Mike Gardiner: Buzzy.IO allows developers to turn your SmartPhone into a game controller for local multiplayer games on connected shared screens so you can play social games at live events & venues on Smart TVs, Cinema screens & Music Video Walls
BizSpark: How did you get the idea for your app?
Mike Gardiner: I had the simple idea back in March 2011 that we could connect people in public spaces using SmartPhones & games.
At the time I was working for a digital agency in Sydney’s CBD and every day after work I would head to the train station,see hundreds of the same people standing in mostly the same spots checking their phones,staring at the inane billboards, bored and alone in a crowd.
I wanted to see what would happen if I could get these people to play a fun 2-3 minute party game like Pictionary (this was pre DrawSomething days ) with each other using their phones to draw on and an interactive screen to display to games.
BizSpark: In 140 characters or less, tell us what your customers love most about your app:
Mike Gardiner: The very unique experience of playing a social game on a big screen with 100’s of others in real life and using their own phone as the controller.
BizSpark: Tell us about your funding history. Are you currently looking for funding? If so, how much?
Mike Gardiner: We have bootstrapped development for the last 18 months of R&D and during the launch of our beta. We are currently raising a 500K seed round to continue to build on development & sales after our public launch.
BizSpark: How many employees do you have? How many developers?
Mike Gardiner: Currently we are a team of 5 with 3 of those developers
BizSpark: Are you hiring? If yes, what are you hiring for and where?
Mike Gardiner: Yes we are hiring. We are currently recruiting 2 additional web app developers with a love for Node.js. We are also building our sales & communication team and happy to hear from people that understand our vision and can bring solid value to the team.
BizSpark: Which platform are you building on? Why?
Mike Gardiner: Our cloud API is powered by Azure and built on Node.js. Our mobile app & SDK is multi-platform and is currently compiled for iOS, Android & BB10. We like the availability of Azure and need to maintain a cross-platform presence on mobile to remove an barriers to new users.
BizSpark: Where do you see opportunities today in the Software/Internet area?
Mike Gardiner: I see emerging opportunities in multiscreen (second screen & beyond) applications & content. The aggressive penetration of SmartPhones and surge of personal connected devices like Smart TV coming into the market will maintain this as a very exciting space.
BizSpark: What do you think about the BizSpark Program?
Mike Gardiner: BizSpark is great way to just get up and go for a lean startup. For us the free basic Azure services were valuable in the early beta & demo days where low use but high availability was still needed.
BizSpark: What specific value are you getting from BizSpark beyond the technology?
Mike Gardiners: The networking value is understated, we have met some other smart & exciting founders and developers through our relationship with the local BizSpark team & events.
BizSpark: What advice do you have for young Software entrepreneurs?
Mike Gardiner: Three things. 1) Pick a problem to solve that you cannot turn away from, one that you can’t stop thinking about and that will keep the fire burning. 2) Trust your instincts 3) It’s an insane roller coaster ride so buckle up.
BizSpark: Who’s your role model and why?
Mike Gardiner: Brad Feld for his work with TechStars and the Boulder startup community
BizSpark: Tell us about your Azure based solution.
Mike Gardiner: Our Buzzy.IO API handles the real time data for thousands (and eventually millions) of concurrent users. The bulk of it is powered by Node.JS & MongoDB
BizSpark: How is Azure implemented in your solution?
Mike Gardiner: Azure allows us to handle the massive spikes in load that we can get during live gaming events.
BizSpark: How did you get excited about Azure?
Mike Gardiner: Initially it was the attraction of additional features and better availability than our previous provider.
BizSpark: What were the Azure features that prompted you to decide to build on Azure?
Mike Gardiner: We needed support for features including sockets & services that weren’t available on our previous cloud provider.
BizSpark: What advice do you have for companies that are thinking about building in the cloud?
Mike Gardiner: Start building & deploying as soon as you can. There are plenty of things & issues you will only be able to learn & solve when you are getting your hands dirty.
Product demonstration – Outdoor multiplayer playtest
Product demonstration – Outdoor music festival and demo
Mike Gardiner speaking about Lime Rocket at EB Expo with Gaming Media
Lime Rocket staff having some fun with their social drawing game.