Co-Founder of A Thinking Ape Technologies Inc.
Location: Vancouver, BC
For an extended profile of Kenshi Arasaki, click here.
Kenshi Arasaki has made his mark in the cutthroat sector of developing mobile social applications by tapping into an often-overlooked truth: many gamers care more about the online communities associated with apps than about the apps themselves. A Thinking Ape’s hyper-addictive “freemium” iPhone apps, such as the games Kingdoms at War and Party in My Dorm, cost nothing for users to download. But the more users get involved in the game and its bustling online forums, the more they’re drawn to performance-boosting extras available for a fee through Apple’s App Store. By treating the game element “as nothing more than a thin veil over kick-ass chatrooms,” says Arasaki. The Calgary-born Silicon Valley veteran and active participant in Vancouver’s vibrant tech startup community and his co-founders, Wilkins Chung and Eric Diep, believe they’re building a billion-dollar business. With the three-year-old firm’s sales multiplying quickly, they’re off to a good start.
What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?
You will enter into a relationship with your co-founders that is essentially marriage. It's a more intense relationship than you’d typically see between co-workers, because you will depend on each other during the stressful times. This relationship has to have a rock-solid foundation, and the whole company will be built on top of it. My co-founders Wilkins [Chung] and Eric [Diep] are like family to me.
What is your best advice for young entrepreneurs?
Choose your investors wisely. If you’re going to raise funding, take money from the people who are aligned personally to your interests, as opposed to someone who wants to make money off a financial transaction. You need to know that when the shit hits the fan they will be there for you instead of screwing you over. Luckily, we chose amazing investors.
What has been the biggest surprise about being an entrepreneur?
Ideas change all the time! If I look at a lot of the most successful startup teams I’ve met, it seems like their initial idea bore little resemblance to what they eventually launched. It just reinforces the old adage: “Execution is everything.”