Interview with the Founders of Heyzap: Jude Gomila and Immad Akhund
I got the chance to interview the guys behind Heyzap, Heyzap has been said to be the YouTube of Online Games. Iâ€™ve covered Heyzap before here. The ability to embed games into anyone elseâ€™s website is really amazing, whatâ€™s more is what elseâ€™s coming. More â€˜interestingâ€™ features (sorry people, got to wait till it comes out) are going to be implemented in the near future, I think itâ€™s going to make it even more interesting, interactive and profitable. I believe this is one of the major developments in Online â€˜Casualâ€™ gaming for 2009. What do you think?
Hereâ€™s the interview…
Who are the founders of Heyzap?
Immad Akhund â€“ co founder Heyzap
Immad Akhund studied Computer Science, Cambridge UK, â€˜05, his first venture revmap.com – a map based restaurant review site in the UK, launched in Jan 2007. After revmap.com, Immad went onto pursue his entrepreneurial career in San Francisco as founder and CTO of clickpass.com, a site that eliminates the need for multiple passwords and usernames on the internet. Clickpass has received more than 150,000 users since its launch and has partnerships with including Plaxo.com, Scribd.com and Disqus.com. Clickpass.com was acquired by Sythasite in December 2008.
Jude Gomila â€“ co founder Heyzap
Jude Gomila studied Engineering, Cambridge UK, â€˜06 was born in London, UK. During his final year of University he started Sugar Global, a digital photo frame brand, making sales to UK stores including Harrods, Selfridges, Amazon and Firebox.com. Sugar products were featured in the What Hi-Fi Magazineâ€™s Expo 2007. After Sugar Global, Jude Gomila went on to found a charity gaming site (Helpthirst.com) in contract with Worldvision.
So, What made you both pursue a Tech career?
Jude: I have always been excited by the future. Future technologies bring us capabilities that really expand our reach as human beings and bring the world closer together. Technology has empowered normal people and gives us the potential to achieve almost limitless feats: the internet is a great example of this.
Immad: I was really excited about the possibilities that the Internet was opening up. It was now possible with very little capital and only ones own talent to create something meaningful that could change the lives of millions in the world. This is what Youtube and Facebook did and something that I was excited to pursue.
What is it like working together?
It’s been smooth running. We’ve both known each other for over 10 years and have been on mini projects together before. It’s good that we can be totally direct with each other with no facetime or overheads in communication.
What other Websites or web startups that youâ€™re currently involved in?
We are 100% focused on Heyzap for the foreseeable future, though we both come up with game changing ideas almost everyday.
How did you come up with the idea for Heyzap?
We were surprised that although gaming content was super addictive, it wasn’t available to all users on all sites. Video is everywhere and great fun, so we thought it would be a great idea to allow websites and users to get games instantly. Since launching we have had thousands of sites and blogs embedding these games using the Heyzap games player.
How long did it take you to develop Heyzap?
From idea to launch it took around 4 months of hard work. We are continueously releasing cool new features though, so its a really exciting time for us!
How much investment have you invested in Heyzap?
We took seed investment from Y Combinator and are in the Winter ’09 batch. It’s a great community to be in and it’s awesome to learn from our peers.
How big is the market of Online â€˜Casualâ€™ gaming?
Global Casual Games market is worth $2.2bn, and is predicted to grow at 25%. There are currently 217 million people worldwide play online casual games (2007)
How does Heyzap make money?
Currently Heyzap is using Mochi Media to provide in game advertising in the form of pre roll video ads. Heyzap will also offer licensing options for publishers who require no external advertising.
Do Game developers also make money?
Game developers can directly upload their games to heyzap to give them extra distribution and monetization via in game advertising.
What makes Heyzap different from other Online Casual Gaming websites?
Heyzap has built a casual gaming player which allows sites and blogs to easily embed 6000+ casual games with a simple embed code. Just like Youtube lets users embed videos into their website,Â Heyzap lets your embed online games into your website. Currently, websites donâ€™t have easy access to highly addictive, online casual games content, but heyzap intends to change this. Heyzap will shift where users play casual games and bring casual games to a larger audience.
Heyzap increases site stickiness through the use of games and it only takes a minute to embed. The games player provides endless, fresh and addictive content to publishers. Heyzap aggregates and filters their games from major casual games portals, game developers and Mochi Media. Heyzap also aggregate the associated meta data and use their algorithm to display the most popular games.
What features are going to be added in the near future?
Heyzap are planning exciting up and coming releases including a customizable widget and a games API. Publishers will be able to fully customize the player including changing colours, sizes, type of games. The Heyzap games API will allow publishers directly pull the demographically appropriate games content into their site allowing a deeper level of integration.
How do you see web startup’s perform during this time of recession?
Casual games play is up in the recession because it’s free, fun, you can play for hours and with your friends. We are very optimistic that we will come out of this recession with no issues. The strongest companies with the best products and hardest working teams will survive this recession.
How much funding does a web startup need to build a website?
If you want to move fast you need a little money. But you can start with zero. Don’t be afraid build something and get it out there.
What’s your advice / suggestions / recommendations to other tech entrepreneurs out there who are wanting to start something online?
Go for it, make something small and launch it. Move fast, iterate and believe in yourself. Learn from the best and benchmark yourself against the best sites. Make something fresh and try not to reinvent the wheel.