When Jennifer Garcia and Dave Maestri set out to create interactive social games, they weren't expecting Mob Wars to lead to four weddings. But their company, Metamoki, will gladly take credit for it.
“Games have a really great way of bringing people together," Garcia says. "Sometimes people are embarrassed to say 'I am a gamer' and the only people they can talk to that understand them are within the game community."
According to her, it was important for Metamoki that their games are inherently social and create opportunity for players to meet and to get to know each other based on their interests.
Garcia says that the Metamoki team was surprised to receive emails from users who thanked the company for bringing the soon-to-be-wed couple together. Upon closer inspection of the Mob Wars' message boards, they realized that the game was enabling people to initiate long-distance friendships as well as romantic relationships.
Not All Fun and Games
Working at a startup is not for everyone. Employees at new businesses should be open minded and be able to quickly adapt as the company adjusts and grows, Garcia says. The employees should also be willing to help build the company.
One of the hardest things that Garcia had to face as CEO of Metamoki was managing the staff. To her, managing staff means convincing them to buy into your vision of the company and be passionate about its direction. "You constantly have to motivate people," Garcia says. "It's also really exciting. You learn a lot about yourself and you grow."
When Metamoki first started, the staff consisted of Garcia, Maestri and a developer. The company now has 22 employees and is looking to hire more.
Transparency Is Key
So what's Metamoki's key to success?
"We are always really honest and we are really open," says Garcia, who believes that companies that keep employees in the dark about things like revenue and the business plan are making a big mistake. No one wants to share negative details, Garcia admits. "It's a lot more glamorous to talk about your successes than to talk about your struggles and failures," she says.
However, by being transparent about both struggles and successes, Metamoki leadership says they get "less of a fight" when they have to make changes, because the employees understand where they are coming from.
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