How 3 smart entrepreneurs found product/market fit with Game Thinking

In my work as a game designer and coach, I help brilliant entrepreneurs from all around the world innovate smarter and faster with Game Thinking. Today, I’m shining a spotlight on a few of my amazing clients — and sharing with you a key quality that sets successful entrepreneurs apart.

My clients are a constant source of inspiration and learning. Their feedback has transformed my Game Thinking toolkit into a proven, solid system. I’m deeply gratified by their success using this system to design lasting engagement and accelerate product/market fit.

One striking trait shared by my successful clients is a willingness to be wrong, learn quickly, and keep going. I see this on the front lines everyday — up close and personal — and frankly, I struggle with this myself. Lemme tell you — not everyone can absorb challenging customer feedback quickly and ego-free. It’s a crucial and under-valued skill that separates the breakthroughs from the also-rans.

Robin Yang — Product Manager, CodeCombat

One resilient entrepreneur whose rocked our Game Thinking toolkit is Robin Yang. Robin and her team had built an award-winning prototype for a musical hardware toy — and she used Game Thinking to test and validate their business idea. As she mobilized and interviewed passionate early customers, she discovered that their prototype would need substantial development and financing to truly delight these customers — plus she’d need to add manufacturing expertise to her core team.

Although it was tough to absorb, Robin listened hard — and after some soul-searching, decided to double-down on her core expertise and pursue game-like software products rather than building a hardware business. Robin is now a certified Game Thinking coach, and lead Product Manager at CodeCombat, an education startup building coding skills through games.

Dr. Candis Best — CEO, Learningateway

Another smart, resilient entrepreneur I love working with is Dr. Candis Best — an educator turned startup CEO who’s building a mentoring network to increase graduation rates for low-income community college students. Candis used Game Thinking to re-design her existing product around the habits and needs of her early customers.

Although she’d invested months of engineering into her existing infrastructure, Candis was willing to test her assumptions, listen to her customers, and re-focus her efforts on a high-value, low-friction mobile app that her target audience would actually use. Candis is currently developing that app and running a pilot study in partnership with the New York City College network.

Megan Mahdavi — CEO, Sunreach

And then there’s Megan Mahdavi — a savvy social entrepreneur who’s pioneering a new model of SAAS data services that leverage young talent in developing countries. While working a full-time job, Megan used Game Thinking to validate her idea and mobilize her early customers. When she got negative feedback from her core audience, Megan was initially disheartened — but she quickly realized that she needed to re-target her efforts on a different cohort and develop her core service offering.

Megan is now CEO of Sunreach, a fast-growing data services company that she co-founded. She’s realizing her dream by training smart young people in Haiti and Palestine to become Salesforce engineers — and growing a truly global company.

Game designer, startup coach, author, entrepreneur

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