Creating New Worlds With MyDream
Allison Huynh is a co-founder and CEO of MyDream — a 3D online social game where children and adults alike can control their environment and alter the game’s landscape to create their own imaginative world. Think of MyDream like Minecraft meets Kahn Academy: it has an educational aim toward K-12 without any of the prevalent violence found in other games. Users can explore MyDream and even shape it through its open platform nature, using their own real-life skills to explore and create their own personal worlds.
Allison’s background with shaping her own world is not exclusive to her gaming imagination. As a child, Allison survived the Vietnam war and PRPC Refugee Camp at the defunct Baatan Nuclear Power Plant in the Philippines. Through her own intelligence and dedication, she received a scholarship to Stanford University to study Engineering and Math in the United States. She took the opportunity and parlayed it into award-wining projects in robotic operating systems, the point cloud based library and was owner and designer of the Willow Garage think tank (specializing in 3D visualization and artificial intelligence).
I asked Allison some questions to understand more about her background and how MyDream transformed from idea to a Kickstarter campaign that exceeded its $100,000 goal with two weeks still remaining to fundraise.
What gave you the idea to create MyDream and how did you transform that idea into the game?
My focus was to create a new style of game with education as paramount, yet it needed to be appealing to all ages. I reviewed the industry landscape and competitor analysis and then brought it top engineers to build MyDream. The focus for our game was to remove the heavy violence that’s associated with 3D games. This was an issue for me, especially as a mother and the impact that violent games cause kids as they grow up. With the prototype complete, we launched our Kickstarter campaign and reached the $100k goal in a few days proving a good 3D game does not require murder simulators as a selling point.
What has been your biggest challenge in getting started and how have you overcome it?
Our biggest challenge was to find excellent engineers who would be intrigued by a game that has over one million lines of code, editable graphics and tackling the complexity of our vision. I spent over two years learning the culture of game developers and networking with hundreds of investors. This also required me to step back from the helm and let our team excel without micromanaging them. The process was an uphill struggle, especially since gaming is notorious as a male dominated industry.
Did your experience in the tech world help you?
In some ways, yes. I do have engineering experience, receiving a scholarship to Stanford University (Engineering & Math) and have been part of creating some of the most revolutionary innovation in 3D visualization and artificial intelligence (AI) at Willow Garage. My expertise also lies in incubating and designing multiple start-ups, some acquired by Fortune 50’s. Nevertheless, creating such a unique game as MyDream as a first time entrepreneur required me to step back and bring in more talented people so I could focus on the overall business.
How did you get started on your Kickstarter campaign for MyDream? What are the key factors you feel have driven it to exceed its funding amount?
With potential investors interested in MyDream, we decided to promote our launch pad on Kickstarter to dually generate backers and media hype. This premeditated objective also generated the right demographic of early adopters who will become active within the game as we develop it. One of the key factors is that the game is original so this naturally generated viral interest from backers to spread the word to their own network of gaming friends. Publicity has been incredible which proves that either gender can create a great gaming start up, which also has added to the success of our Kickstarter goal.
What advice would you give other entrepreneurs who want to start their own business?
Perseverance, vision and the drive to push your start up is paramount. It’s important to network, gain feedback from experts and prove your worth by bringing in great teammates who add kudos to your objective. For every ‘no’ you receive, this should never deter you. It’s a proven fact that many investors have declined and later regretted this as they were looking at where the business was now, and not where it can be in the future. As a female entrepreneur in a male dominated industry, your focus should be always on the business and not gender barriers so you keep momentum and don’t get blind sighted.