The CEO and founder shares with us the secrets to the success of his company, MarketJS, which builds games for big brands.
The young entrepreneur is often seen working till late nights at theDesk, in a casual attire of shorts and a t-shirt, kindly greeting members as he walks passing by. When approached to complete an interview for us, though busy with work overseas, he still took the initiative to make arrangements. Based at theDesk co-working and events space in Sai Wan, MarketJS makes games for multi-billion dollar corporations, such as Disney, Warner Bros, Nickelodeon, FOX, Dell and Mercedes-Benz. As flashy as those brand names are, the story all begins with something very simple, yet remarkable.
So, tell us about MarketJS…
MarketJS builds and distributes games for big brands. Plain and simple. Our platform and services enable companies to launch a branded game to hit their ROI (return on investment) goals.
We see that your work and education have allowed you to travel around the world. How has your background inspired or led you to finding MarketJS?
I love tinkering with software, trying to understand how things work behind the scenes. This resulted in many, many side projects.
Now that I think about it, I’ve actually had side projects almost my entire life. Even while I was studying and working in Europe, I spent nights just working on passion projects.
At some point, I thought, ‘I should really give this gaming thing a shot.’ I decided to join a startup in Latin America to revolutionize game analytics. Think ‘Google Analytics for Games’.
I then learned how to build games out of pure curiosity. Companies started approaching me to check out my work, and I started contracting with them.
At some point, I thought, ‘I should really give this gaming thing a shot.’ I decided to join a startup in Latin America to revolutionize game analytics. Think ‘Google Analytics for Games’. It was a big geographical move, career-wise as well, but I followed what my heart was telling me.
I watched and learned how a fast-moving team operated. I absorbed as much as I could. Most importantly, I inherited the insane work-ethic that my then-boss had.
Can you tell us the story of you and finding of MarketJS? Were there any difficulties in the way?
As someone who likes to code, I experimented with building different kinds of game systems out of pure fun. I liked bouncing ideas around, seeing what sticks and then getting right down to the coding.
The genesis of MarketJS, was to create a platform that other media and gaming companies could leverage, to launch games for their own brands. It was originally a side project that I launched in 2012.
Then a large media company here in Hong Kong took interest in what I did. They became our first client. The rest was a roller-coaster ride.
MarketJS has been established for more than 5 years. Would you say you are still as zealous as you were 5 years ago?
Yes, I still really enjoy what I do – I would not trade this experience for anything else. Looking back, it was a journey filled with challenges every step of the way, but every day is interesting and fun.
What keeps you so motivated?
The part I enjoy the most is creating new games, and solving our client’s problems. I’m lucky because I get to find an overlap between the two.
We know you’ve had quite a few exciting projects. Are there some that you would like to share with us?
We recently built a game for the Minions movie, Despicable Me 3. It was tons of fun coming up with concepts based on the actual movie characters, then developing it into a fully playable game.
We also worked on a game project with FOX Sports, where soccer fans get to take penalty kicks against a celebrity goalie. The winner actually received keys to a brand new Hyundai car.
Throughout your journey, there will be highs and lows. The highs are euphoric, and the lows are soul-crushing. Aim to stay in business for as long as possible because you’ll ride out the volatility. In other words: Stay the course!
With Disney, we worked on a game to promote an animated TV show called Phineas and Ferb. We designed the game from scratch – we thought about every single detail in the game, down to what each character would say if they were on TV. And yes, we came up with the jokes too.
What would you say to aspiring entrepreneurs who wish to follow a path similar to yours?
- a) Find the absolute truths in your business, and stick with it.
- b) Throughout your journey, there will be highs and lows. The highs are euphoric, and the lows are soul-crushing. Aim to stay in business for as long as possible because you’ll ride out the volatility. In other words: Stay the course! The same rule applies to index funds (if anyone notices).
- c) Only start a business if a customer asks you too.
- d) Be prepared for a minimum of a 10 year journey, if you’re truly serious about starting a business.
Feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org if you need any insights. He doesn’t normally don’t offer advice, but he’ll listen and maybe help you think through a problem if you ask the right questions.
Ben Chong, in brief:
Name: Ben Chong
Position: CEO at MarketJS
Location: theDesk, Sai Wan