We all have multiple personalities and multiple lives. I’m not talking about the Dexter-serial-killer type personalities, although I suppose that’s just a more extreme example. No, what I mean is that each and every one of us is a slightly different person depending on the environment we’re placed in. We use different language and wear different clothing at the club than when we go visit Grandma, right?
That’s what gamer and tech whiz Adam Lieb was thinking when he started Duxter, a social network for gamers. Adam recognized that gaming is a part of life that isn’t easily shared with or understood by non-gamers and he set out to create a home for them where they could feel free to share their scores and goals to their heart’s content. Members can also earn points, called “Duckets,” that they can then redeem for real life stuff.
While most social networks for gamers end up being places of major competition, Duxter aims to create a Facebook-like community where people can connect and share what they’re up to, without trying to one-up each other. They’ve also made a point to not connect with Facebook or Twitter, which means that the anonymous personas that gamers create can be kept separate from their gaming lives.
Adam took some time to chat with us about Duxter and, as expected from someone who started their first company at 11 and had their first 1 million dollar business under the belt at 20, his answers to our questions are smart, funny, and informative. Check it out.
How’d you come up with the name for your company?
Get ready for the nerdiest answer you’ve ever heard. Dux means leader in Latin. In some countries the number one person in their class is called the “dux of the class” instead of valedictorian. A Duxter is a mashed up word combining the Latin root leader with the suffix ter, which is commonly used as “someone who” forming a word that means roughly “someone who leads.”
To me it is about striving to be the best at what you do. For gamers this is a core principal most of us live by. We play games to beat the games, beat the competition, or achieve great things. Duxter fit with the gamer persona.
What’s the very first thing you do at work everyday?
I do emails. I typically spend 30-60 minutes pounding through as many emails as I can. This usually gets my brain fired up and ready for the day. Something about the morning air makes me want to type like a speed demon.
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
0. I founded my company on my own. I quickly recruited as many talented engineers as I could. We currently have 11 folks working on our team.
Remember the early days starting up? Maybe you can share one anecdote that describe the struggle you went through?
My biggest struggle was always patience. I always hated having to wait for things to happen. Everything took longer than I wanted it to no matter how many hours our team poured into things. I had to learn to be patient and make sure you execute to the best of my ability on a daily basis.
How do you handle frustration? When/how was the last time you dealt with frustration?
Talking. I try to talk through everything. Whether I am frustrated with myself, a team member, or something completely externally. I always try to get to the root of it and figure out a solution. I am sure I talk things to death, but this is just my coping mechanism.
What’s your office environment like? Is it the kind of place where everyone is bumpin’ away to house music or is it more traditional?
It is a veritable wasteland of nerf guns and video games. Everyone has different musical tastes which leads us all to wear headphones when we want to go into beastmode. There is a great deal of laughing, nerdy humor, and friendly mocking.
How do you picture your company in 5 years?
A lot bigger version of what we have today. Our goal is to continue to attract the best people who believe in our vision. Our goal is to give gamers a place to call home online. In five years we will have a thriving and vibrant community servicing millions of gamers. Our organization will need to scale while retaining the culture that makes Duxter such a fun place to work.
Who or what inspires YOU? Role models? Quotes? Running? Video games? Snack food? Give us the deets, dude!
I am inspired by the notion of building something that solves a problem. Building something that people love and makes their life better. I mostly get inspired by ideas and fuzzy abstract things.
How’d you fund this venture?
I self funded the MVP with proceeds from my previous business. After we had something to show people we raised funds from outside investors.
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
Build something that inspires people. It is too hard to do things yourself. You need to find other talented people who are willing to work for very little money. It is rare that you will find someone willing to do this on the promise that it might one day make them a lot of money. People will work their ass off for you if they believe what you believe in. You have to sell your vision, and people have to buy it.
What would you be doing if you had one year off and $500,000 to spend (and you couldn’t spend it on your current startup / projects)?
That is tough… I usually have quick answers to questions but truthfully I’ve never thought about this. I don’t know that I could take a year off. I’d probably take the 500K and invest it into 5 startups that I thought I could help. I’d spend my time trying to make sure those 5 startups were as successful as possible. I hope my wife doesn’t see this answer.
Do you consider yourself a successful entrepreneur right now? If not, what’s it gonna take to make you feel successful?
Tough question in the abstract. I have successful days and unsuccessful days. When you hit milestones, funding, product, team, you feel like you are doing the right things and being successful. Unfortunately those don’t happen everyday. I will be able to say this was a successful venture once we end up in the market leader position with a substantial portion of our target audience using our product.
Website you couldn’t live without and why?
Is it weird that I work in technology and don’t have a visceral reaction to this?
I am not sure there is any website I couldn’t do without. I think that speaks to the ubiquity of technology and the internet, there are always substitutes.
Mobile App you’re in love with and why?
MobileDay. This is my favorite app. It auto dials into all my conference calls for me. It basically reads from your calendar, pulls your phone numbers, and calls in at the appropriate time. It helps keep me efficient and saves me from fumbling around with dial in numbers. I love it.
Dogs or cats?
Loldogz. I live in can I haz cheezburger land, this felt appropriate.
iOS or Android?
iOS currently but I am not married to any technology. I can always be wood by the latest greatest thing.
What’s the greatest thing about your company/website/idea?
The people. The best part of my company is the people I get to work with. They are talented dreamers who want conquer the gaming world.
Where can our readers get ahold of you? Facebook? Twitter? Google+? Personal blog? Any other projects you’re working on that we should check out?
Twitter. I never thought I’d say this, but twitter is definitely the easiest way to get ahold of me. I read/respond to any direct mentions. I am always happy to help entrepreneurs in anyway I can. I’ve been blessed with great mentors, advisors, and folks who were just generous with their time. I try to pay it forward whenever possible.