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How to turn an AR-game into a marketing tool: Wind of Luck

Thursday, September 2, 2021

The founders of the startup talk about how the app was created and how the product helps to solve the problem of advertising inefficiency through gamification in marketing.

Startup Jedi

We talk to startups and investors, you get the value.

Viacheslav Malnach, a Belarussian entrepreneur, came up with an idea for a startup after he saw the successes of AR-games and noticed how ineffective advertisement is. Viacheslav, along with his wife Yana, are creating a Wind of Luck app, where the user will be able to find prizes and bonuses with the help of a metal detector and efficiently use it. It is conceived not only as a game but as a marketing tool for business. So here is the story.

Inception of the idea

Viacheslav: Advertising ineffectiveness is a problem I've often thought about when I was working for different companies. Obsessive advertising, lack of reaction from people, and the competition itself; I've noticed that many companies are unhappy with what their marketing budgets were spent on. This prompted me to create an AR game with real prizes and bonuses from companies that dream of a new effective advertising tool. 

Yana: I supported this idea because I came across this issue myself. For example, when I was engaged in retail in a large company. And if a brand has been on the market for many years and has already reached the main audience, then it is extremely difficult to attract a new one.

Viacheslav: Many games with augmented reality technology are becoming the trendsetters in the industry, but they only allow you to fight aliens or defend your kingdoms from the enemy. And we will solve business problems.

We can set Pokemon Go as an example. This multiplayer roleplay game with location-based augmented reality was very popular in 2016. It was downloaded by more than 100 million people around the world, and the company's total earnings from the game over 5 years exceeded $5B. Looking at the numbers, we decided that it would be interesting to start in this area.

Another reason to create Wind of Luck is my passion for games. I want to create a game that can be useful in the real world, combining the real and virtual worlds. And you will be able to donate to the game, knowing that in addition to pleasure, you also receive material value.

What is Wind of Luck and how it works

Viacheslav: With the help of the Wind of Luck app, we want to bring clients to the business in a playful way. Using the built-in virtual objects (for example, a metal detector or a slingshot), the user gets "treasures" from our partners, walking around the city, shopping centre or at home. You can play for two minutes and find a nice gift - a 20% discount on perfume or a free tea at the restaurant. Pokemon GO has a similar mechanic, only in our case the prizes are real.

Yana: In plain English, Wind of Luck is a gamification tool for marketing. We created a business platform for advertising. We are counting on the interest of brands and large chains, as well as medium and small businesses from entertainment, services, and so on.

We assume that our users, regardless of their standard of living, like to buy or spend a vacation at a profit. They don’t always have time to monitor discounts and promotions, and Wind of Luck makes it possible to find bonuses that a person couldn’t even think about but in a playful way. By the way, with the help of the built-in flea market, the user can exchange with other players for a promotion or discount that is more interesting to him, or simply give it as a gift.

Currently, we don’t see any direct competitors but as indirect competitors, we consider mobile games, websites and coupon apps (those that accumulate discounts). So this is how we can be competitive: 

  • real-world profit;
  • it is possible to play on-the-go (when you go somewhere, wait for public transport or stay in a queue);
  • surprise effect ― you never know what you will find.
How was the app created

Yana: The realization started in November 2019. The first and not the easiest stages: writing technical specifications, thinking through every detail, sleeping for three hours... We combined startup development with our main job for a year. But we didn’t manage it all and realized that there would be nothing good at that rate. We had to quit our main jobs. 

First of all, we needed specialists who know the cross-platform environment for mobile games development in Unity and AR. We were lucky to solve this issue with the help of StarCoStudio LLC, the Belarusian outsourcing company. Eight specialists from their team worked on our project. We don’t have our own developers. By the way, there aren’t many similar companies on the market now, because they mainly deal with their own software and don’t outsource projects.

Viacheslav: We’ve spent the whole three months calibrating the in-built virtual metal detector, so it can imitate the search like the real device. We thought over all the smallest details in the design ourselves, tried to make them not look cartoonish, but realistic, and in addition, we added sounds: birds sing during the search.

We invested our own money. As of now, there is about $60 000 invested in the project. The launch was planned for February 2021, but we managed to do it only in June. Now the prototype is ready and available for download in the App Store and Google Play.

Monetization and business model

Yana: Currently, we are conducting pilots with the first partners on a free basis. In the future, partners will pay for activated promotional offers. If a user finds a discount and uses it to buy a product, then the partner pays 10% of the discounted price - about $2.8 (the average bill for existing partners is $28.5). The size of the commission will vary depending on the size of the business and the value of the offer.

According to our data, one user can find 6-7 coupons while playing 30 minutes per day.

Upon reaching more than 20,000 users and more than 50 partners, we plan to reach a revenue of more than $100,000 per month.

It is important that there will be no adverts in the app, users only get irritated because of it. As of now, we will profit only from the partners’ commission. In the future, we plan to realize the Free to Play model. The users will be able to donate to improve metal detectors and shooting equipment or the quality and quantity of findings.

Searching for partners

Viacheslav: Within three months we managed to sign contracts with 10 Belarusian companies: Pinkerton (the bureau of detective quests), optician’s network “Prosvet” (16 optician’s), optician’s network “Optika iz Yevropy”, “Parus5” yacht club, online school Prime, activity park “COLT”, Parfum&Cosmetics, MAVI cafe, Quest Box and “Say Wow” beauty salon.

All the companies that we contact easily agree to cooperate with us because the experiment costs nothing for them. But to tell the truth, getting in touch with the decision-makers of large companies is really difficult. For example, we wanted to contact a marketer for a large fast-food brand, but couldn’t do it online. Therefore, I had to find his photo on the Internet and go searching for him near the company's office. We succeeded :)

Now we are focused on attracting large brands and we are negotiating with some of them.

First results

Viacheslav: We have over 400 downloads, but only 210 registered users, since not all mobile devices support augmented reality games. We haven't invested in marketing yet. We plan to collect traffic through advertising in our partners’ channels.

There are four people in our team. In addition to Yana and me, there is Alina Avramenko, the art director who is engaged in UI and UX design and SMM, and Raimondas Petrauskas, who is responsible for preparing for entering the European market. We are looking for a CTO to join our team and we are ready to discuss any conditions.

Plans

Yana: Currently, Belarus is our launching platform, as we can test our hypotheses since we know the country’s market pretty well and geographically, we’re here. We want to move to the CIS, Europe and then the USA and other countries. 

It is hard to find investments at the MVP stage and this money would be too “expensive”. Currently, we have a working application and expect to attract investments of $250,000, which we will spend on expanding and testing the product in the CIS and EU markets, automating the administrative part to minimize manual work and create a personal business profile for partners. After all, we don’t have employees yet, everything is done by ourselves. But this is temporary and normal for startups. We believe in our idea and are confident that soon our team will start growing along with the number of downloads.

 

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