inRes 2015: Very Early Stage Acceleration Program

Playsketch: The True Value of Immersing a Creative Project in Pittsburgh

 Playsketch1  “Imagine, Draw and Play” is the motto of Playsketch, one of the 2015 inRes teams, and Luís Pereira and Pedro Santa, the founders, took it to the US. They made around 150 contacts with potential customers and experts and had great feedback about their project. The experience, according to the Playsketch team, gave “meaning to the word ‘acceleration’”. 
 

"Awesome."

“This is so cool. I want this for Christmas”

“What a neat idea.”

Playsketch potential customers

Turning the idea into startup – the adventure in the US
The Playsketch team decided to apply to the inRes Program mainly because they wanted to “get closer to the management side of things”. “We knew this program would equip us with business management capabilities and skills,” Pedro Santa explains. The team says that the inRes initiative exceeded their expectations.

“inRes exceeded our expectations in several levels.”
Playsketch team

 Playsketch2   Playsketch3 

The team says Playsketch as a project and them as entrepreneurs have changed a lot after the immersion in CMU. “It has given us new ways to see this business, startup and entrepreneurship world in a much wider and holistic perspective,” they stress.
The training in Portugal, before the members travelled to the US, was also extremely valuable. “We were able to redefine our value proposition and focus on the type of customers we should target,” the team states.

“Our contact network exploded in size.”

Playsketch team

Luís Pereira highlights the fact that Playsketch’s contact network “exploded in size”, while immersed in CMU, “not just in number but also in the quality of the contacts”. The startup had around 50 meetings with experts, people from the industry and partners that allowed them to perform hands-on activities. At events, such as the Maker Faire Pittsburgh and LaunchCMU, they were able to contact with around 100 potential users. The amount of great feedback put some pressure on the team to launch the app as lots of potential clients asked “where can I get this?” All of this made them feel like they “were playing in the first league.”

 Playsketch4   Playsketch5 

Luís Pereira highlights the fact that Playsketch’s contact network “exploded in size”, while immersed in CMU, “not just in number but also in the quality of the contacts”. The startup had around 50 meetings with experts, people from the industry and partners that allowed them to perform hands-on activities. At events, such as the Maker Faire Pittsburgh and LaunchCMU, they were able to contact with around 100 potential users. The amount of great feedback put some pressure on the team to launch the app as lots of potential clients asked “where can I get this?” All of this made them feel like they “were playing in the first league.”

They also got some constructive criticisms that made them realize the biggest challenges they would still have to face. “One of the biggest challenges is that consumer products, like ours, are hard to get right and that’s why we are working on the customer discovery and development to meet the needs of our potential clients,” the team explains. The founders also mention that, because their product is targeted to children and families, it is crucial “to be aware of the importance of the user interface and the user experience”.

“We felt like we were playing in the first league.”

Playsketch team

During the immersion in Pittsburgh, they had meetings with “key people from Y Combinator, Kickstarter, the main scholars of game design and one of the investors of our competitor,” Luís Pereira stressed.
inRes had a huge role in alerting the Playsketch team for the importance of nurturing, growing and keeping the contact network. “More important than knowing is knowing who knows”, Pedro Santa said. Dave Mahiney also says that the three most important things when “building a startup are networking, networking and networking.”

“According to Dave Mahiney (Co-Director, CMU Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship) the three most important things when you are building a startup are: networking, networking and networking.”

 Playsketch team

 Playsketch6    Playsketch7 

The American business culture
In comparison to Portugal, the Playsketch team says the US is clearly more business oriented. “They like to be succinct and have action items by the end of the meeting,” the team explains.
Luís Pereira and Pedro Santa also look at the Pittsburgh entrepreneurial world with different eyes comparatively to the rest of the US: “We were surprised with how people are helpful. We think this is Pittsburgh trademark.”
After this inRes experience, the Playsketch team feels fearless regarding business networking and simply talking to people. “We learned to not be afraid to reach out and now we are more self-confident. The worst that can happen is getting ‘no’ for an answer,” Pedro Santa explains. The team feels that now they have a home in the US.

“We now feel that we have a home in the US.”

Playsketch team

Playsketch8   Playsketch9 

Creating Playsketch
Back in 2009, at Codebits Hackathon, their idea, a solution that makes use of drawings on paper as an easy and natural way to create games, won 6th place among 60 contestants. However, Luís Pereira and Pedro Santa had to keep pursuing their PhD and other professional ventures. In 2013, they had the first workshops about business and as they are both engineers, these were crucial for the development of the project.
In the beginning of 2014, they finally started working on Playsketch on a full time basis. Between 2013 and 2015, before enrolling in the inRes adventure, they went through several programs for young entrepreneurs and related to startup acceleration.  

Playsketch10 


Related articles:
inRes 2015: Portuguese Startup Showcases at the 1st Maker Faire in Pittsburgh

inRes 2015: What are the Expectations of the Teams? 

 

January 2016