Check out our exclusive interview with Joey Roth, a 21 year-old from Southern California, as he talks about his story of how he became the founder of an ePublishing company in the gaming industry, OrangeOctop.us. He shares his insights on how he won $20,000 in a business competition, his key beliefs in entrepreneurship, and what the future holds for his career.
1| Hey Joey, can you tell us who you are?
What’s up!?! I’m Joey Roth from Southern California. I’m graduating from Babson College in Spring of 2014.
2| How early did you get involved with entrepreneurship? Why?
While I was in high school, I started to get involved with entrepreneurship. There were night-time MBA classes at Chapman University which the professor would allow me to sit in on. The professor told me that if I was serious about business and entrepreneurship, I had to go to Babson College.
3| What does being an entrepreneur mean to you?
My simple definition of entrepreneurship: (1) Find out what people want (2) then give it to them.
4| Before we get into OrangeOctop.us, can you speak a little about your past ventures like your business Cabshare during your freshmen year and your beach clean up project?
Nice! You did your research! So when I first came to Babson, I realized all everyone knew was business. I needed a way to differentiate myself, and learn a skill set like art or design. I ended up settling on programming.
My first attempt with programming was to build a web application that would allow college students to share cab rides. I pitched the idea in a rocket pitch competition, and ended up beating a bunch of MBAs. The service launched during Thanksgiving break of my freshman year and hundreds of my classmates used the service, saving them thousands of dollars. I ended up winning entrepreneur of the year as a freshman for CabShare.
The problem with CabShare was that there were just too many variables which are out of your control (drivers, traffic, people, etc). Plus, I was spending all of my time working on CabShare and couldn’t figure out how to monetize it (What was I learning at business school anyways?) I made the tough decision to shut down CabShare and move onto the next venture.
Tim Ferriss’ book, 4 Hour Work Week, teaches you how to run a business that could function while you are off doing all the cool things you always wanted to do.
Following the model described in the book, I was able to go on a 300 mile biking-surf trip down the California Coast while having my business run itself. Along the journey, we made efforts to hold a few beach clean-ups and some really cool brands got behind the project like Patagonia, GoPro, and Etnies.
5| So tell us, what is OrangeOctop.us all about? What’s its value proposition, purpose, mission, etc. How is it different from its competitors? What’s up with the name? Any funny story behind it?
I really believe OrangeOctop.us is going to be huge! So in the past two years, I created the best-selling guide to the soccer game FIFA 12 and FIFA 13. From the experience, I developed this formula to create premier guides for any game.
So that is the new business. OrangeOctop.us is an ebook publisher that creates premier strategy guides for different videogames. The company name, Orange Octopus, comes from a teacher at Babson who was part of the drink company Sobe. He said a lot of the company’s success was based on the branding of two green geckos. He is now part of another billion dollar company called Blue Buffalo Dog food. So the formula was simple… Color + Animal.
There was this german octopus named Paul that correctly predicted the world cup matches. He passed away in 2010 and the company, OrangeOctop.us, was named in his honor.
6| What inspired you to start it?
A google insights report, Understanding the Modern Gamer, showed the consumer demand for tips and the trend is only growing. The publishing and gaming industry is undergoing serious disruption right now and I hope to be on the forefront of the next generation.
7| Can you speak about its successes so far?
The FIFA 13 Guide was a top 100 guide on Amazon and it has allowed me to travel all over the world for different tournaments including Paris Game Week, E3, Virgin Gaming Finals in Las Vegas and New York.
8| What made you go for the Babson Entrepreneurial Thought and Action competition, where you won the $20,000 prize?
I was friends with the winner of last year’s BETA competition, Cam Sheldrake. He really used the competition as a launching pad and he’s killing it now.
9| What was that whole experience like? Going against your peers and other businesses? How much did it affect your academic life?
I’m really good friends with the two other finalists. It was hugs all around.
The funny story is that I actually had a quantitative methods midterm on the morning of the BETA Challenge. So I was a little late to the finals because I was wrapping up my test haha. The pitch went really well, and I ended up acing the exam too, it was a good day!
10| Any personal advice you have for other young entrepreneurs trying to raise publicity and funding through methods like business competitions? Any mistakes you’ve made concerning the company that you wish you could change?
Try to tell entertaining stories that people will remember. Really try to be as outrageous as possible. Lastly remember, design is at the heart of a great presentation.
11| What have you been doing or planning on doing with the $20k?
The two wackiest ideas I have:
1. Create a film studio with cameras, lights, and a smart whiteboard. Allow the best players in the world to come in and teach their tips.
2. For the FIFA Worlds game, I would really like to go on a world book tour. Going to each country that made it to the world cup and setting up a pop-up stand for people to come and play the best players in the world.
12| What are your short, medium, long term visions/goals for OrangeOctop.us?
Short term goal is to lower bounce rate and increase engagement on my current website.
The intermediate goal is to do a quarter of a million dollars in sales this year.
The long term goal is to start developing partnerships and licensing agreements with different games.
13| What is a typical day like for you as founder of this venture?
There are two things I try to concentrate on. 1. Traffic. 2. Conversions.
1.For traffic I look at:
-Where visitors are coming from
-Upcoming blog post ideas
2.For conversions I look at:
-Which pages have the highest exit%
-All of my a/b testing experiments
-Comments and community interactions
14| Last question: When everything is said and done, what is the most rewarding experience about all your entrepreneurial efforts with OrangeOctop.us?
The people I get to talk to. They are all winners!
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