Today's Entrepreneur: Eric LaVanchy

Kristin Karaoglu · September 21, 2011 · Short URL:

No. 1 mistake: Lacking a sense of urgency at all points in the process

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Today's Entrepreneur is Eric LaVanchy, CEO of  MindGames, Inc. one of the semi-finalists in the Splash SF competition.

According to his VEQ   Eric is a thought leader and is good at project development and product management.


You are a(n):

Name companies you've founded or co-founded:
Bottle Rocket, MindGames

Name startups you worked for:
Bottle Rocket, MindGames

If you are an entrepreneur, why?
I want to invent something cool.

List your favorite startups:
Dropbox, Foursquare, FanVibe

What's most frustrating and rewarding about entrepreneurship/innovation?
The most frustrating aspect is resistance to new forms or developing new audiences, or as often happens in entertainment/gaming, breaking away from copycat, me-too titles and formats. The most rewarding thing is having the opportunity to see ideas and models you have imagined become real.

What's the No. 1 mistake entrepreneurs make?
Lacking a sense of urgency at all points in the process.

What are the top three lessons you've learned as an entrepreneur?
The first is that starting a company is an education in business that I don't think you can get at any school - from top down understanding everything that goes into running a viable entity. The second, to use a sports analogy, would be to say you have to think like a closer in baseball - if you blow it one day, if something goes wrong, drop it and move on to the next day and the next chance for glory. And the third would be that however long you think you need, and however much padding you give yourself, you're going to need more time.

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Kristin Karaoglu

Woman of many skills: Database System Engineer; SplashX event producer; Author of Startup Teams

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MindGames, Inc.


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The first MindGames product is a suite of sports-specific casual social games. These free, quick-to-play games allow fans to compete for their favorite teams and against their archrivals. The game is a single-player experience, allowing fans to play trivia and knowledge-based challenges such as player image identification and ordering/stacking puzzles. Fans compete for fun, team pride, status and sports memorabilia prizes.

MindSports Baseball; MindSports Football prizes page

MindGames has partnered with the NFL Players Association to launch MindSports Football on Facebook. We use licensed player photos as virtual trading cards: collectible cards used to unlock bonuses and special features. We generate revenue by selling these cards, and through advertising and sponsorship. A demo of our baseball trivia game was also developed on Facebook in 2010.

MindSports Football trivia question; MindSports Football question result

The appeal of trivia gaming is acutely strong for sports fans, for whom having a deep knowledge of the game is ingrained in the culture. Yet this large audience, with more than 30MM playing fantasy games, is currently being underserved by both the sports media sites and casual game developers. This audience doesn't want CityVille dressed up as CollegeTown - they want content and formats that are native to them.

We are currently in terms negotiation on a unique opportunity to license content from the NBA to develop MindSports NBA Basketball, leveraging team logos and retired player images. In parallel we are speaking with the NHL and the NHL Players Association about development of MindSports Hockey. And we are exploring other relationships both domestic and internationally.

MindSports Basketball; MindSports Hockey

In the long term, we see our gaming platform as a leverageable asset that can be used to colonize new content verticals such as music, entertainment and politics, and also extended into the skill-gaming space.

We are seeking incremental investment to (1) develop seven additional casual sports games, (2) develop eight head-to-head sports skill games, enabling fans to legally wager on their knowledge, and (3) develop a massively multiplayer trivia and knowledge gaming tournament platform based on online poker.


Eric LaVanchy

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Eric LaVanchy has developed dozens of games played by millions of users that have generated tens of millions in revenue. He founded and sold a 'Web 1.0' game company, managed a major UK gaming brand.