The BizSpark startup of the day is Overwolf, based in Israel. Below you will find an interview with Uri Marchand, CEO and Co-founder of Overwolf. All the best to them and congratulations for being the startup of the day!
Tell us who you are and your role in the company:
My name is Uri Marchand, and I’m Overwolf’s CEO and one of its Co-Founders. In addition to managing the company’s day-to-day operations, I am also responsible for Overwolf’s Product and Business development.
What did you do before creating your company?
At the beginning of my career I was an Officer (Major) in the Israeli Air-Force. After finishing my service I founded a startup focused on memorization, a platform for the e-learning market. We had a successful product launch and sold it to tens of thousands of private consumers, as well as a few organizations. I started my studies of computer science and graduated Magna Cum Laude from the IDC in Herzliya. I also graduated IDC’s Zell entrepreneurship program. After graduation I founded Overwolf with a couple friends.
How do you feel being the most promising ‘Startup of the Day’ per Microsoft BizSpark?
I am very excited by the opportunity to participate and thankful for the interest by BizSpark. Further, this opportunity validates the year-and-a-half of extremely intense development work with many barriers and uncertainty, which we were able to overcome. As one of our team members said, getting this invitation “Is like arriving at an oasis after a very long trek in the desert, and receiving an ice cold BizSpark thirst quencher”.
What is your company’s mission?
Helps Gamers stay connected with their real life, friends and the Web as they play video games, and provide them with the ability to easily share their gaming experiences with the real world. Help game publishers seamlessly and effortlessly integrate social media into their games, without needing to develop or modify a single line of their code.
In 140 characters or less, tell us what your company does:
Software client that seamlessly embeds social media in PC games, enabling Gamers to stay connected and share game experiences with friends.
How did you get the idea for your company?
As gamers, we spent many hours playing, and always felt ‘disconnected’ from our lives. When you start to play a game, you enter a different world. This is a great experience, but the problem is that you’re disconnected from your real life. You don’t know if something interesting just happened in the news, you cannot connect with your friends through an instant messenger or Skype or even surf the web easily. Besides that, we saw an interesting business potential in providing game publishers tools to embed social media in games. For example, if players do not need to Alt+Tab to get to Facebook, they play more, and game publishers obtain an increase in their average playtime. Following our closed beta program, we estimate that we will help increase the average playtime by approximately 20%. We are launching our product with eight publishers who look at this as one of our major selling points and value added to their audiences.
Tell us about your funding history. Are you currently looking for funding? If so, how much?
We are very proud to be backed by probably the best angels in the world starting with Dr. Yossi Vardi. While we are always interested in hearing from potential investors and business partners, we have recently completed our Seed round and are not actively looking for funding.
How many employees do you have? How many developers?
We’re currently eight people and growing, four of us are developers and all but all but one person in the company are computer scientists.
Are you hiring? If yes, what are you hiring for and where?
Yes! We are looking for top talent in C# .NET, with a good understanding of web technologies. For further details, please send CVs to IAmYourMan@Overwolf.com.
Which platform are you building on? Why?
We decided start with PC’s and currently support XP, Vista and Windows 7. The major reason for our initial platform choice is the balance between market needs and resources. We intend to evolve to other platforms at a later stage.
Where do you see opportunities today in the Software/Internet area?
Gaming is where people spend a tremendous amount of their free time. It has always been the case, it’s not likely to change, and it has the power to change the world (e.g. games as educational tools for improving training). Opportunities are everywhere from social gaming, mobile platforms and consoles. What’s nice about gaming is that great content always sells, there’s always room for innovators to create new distribution models, and the industry is fueled by continuous innovation – given our company background and culture, these elements play both to Overwolf’s strengths and company talent and philosophy.
What do you think about the BizSpark Program?
The program is absolutely wonderful for startups. It provides top tier development solutions, in an embracing environment – what every startup needs from day one.
Do you have any advice for young Software entrepreneurs?
When founding a company, choosing the right team is the most important thing. There is a saying I could not agree more with: “Choose your partners like you choose your spouse” because you are going to face many challenges and difficulties that will require working with trustworthy, kind and talented people. In my case, I’m happy to say I feel blessed with our team.
Who’s your role model?
I enjoy learning from every person I interact with, and to that end, I have several role models who include both people I work with, family members, all of whom provide me guidance and insights.
What’s the ONE THING you would like readers to take away from this interview?
Overwolf beta is available for download today. If you are a game publisher who’s interested in easily adding social experiences into your titles, or a gamer who would like to stay connected while playing your favorite games, we encourage you to check Overwolf out at www.overwolf.com and drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.