Timing is everything in business, and when Chris Ye saw his opportunity, he jumped on it. With the launch of the Facebook platform to third-party developers in 2007, Ye and his business partner, Mark Lampert, were struck by the idea of creating a simple gifting app on Facebook. It quickly went viral and started generating ad revenue for the pair.
"That got us thinking about what we could do next on the platform," says Ye. "Games seemed to be the most fun, social thing we could build, so we created our first game over the next few months and never looked back." His company, Uken Games, has since created a number of top-ranked titles well-known to social and mobile gamers, including Forces of War, Crime Inc. and Dark Galaxy. Today, the company builds games for iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry as well as Facebook, and specializes in creating games that have true "cross-platform" functionality.
For developing a life-changing innovation, creating jobs and building a company with the potential for explosive growth, Ye has been chosen FuEL Entrepreneur of the Year as part of the 2nd annual FuEL Awards. He is among 20 Canadians under the age of 30 honoured for their entrepreneurial excellence by the FuEL Awards, which celebrate Canada's Future Entrepreneurial Leaders (FuEL).
FuEL Award winners (in alphabetical order):
- Armen Bakirtzian, age 27, Waterloo, Ont., Avenir Medical
- Holly Brattberg, 28, Edmonton, Global e-Training
- Reid Campbell, 27, Toronto, VMG Cinematic
- Rebecca Cotter, 29, Toronto, Water-on-Wheels
- Derrick Fung, 25, Richmond Hill, Ont., Tunezy
- Billy Hennessey, 28, Toronto, Oxford Beach/RoyalPak
- Cedric Jeannot, 27, Waterloo, Ont., I Think Security
- Michael Kaye, 29, Toronto, Alexa Translations
- Arjun Kumar, 27, Whitby, Ont., Kela Medical
- Bryan McCrea, 26, Saskatoon, 3twenty Solutions
- Marco Muzzi, 24, Toronto, AcuityAds
- Greg Overholt, 27, Toronto, Students Offering Support
- Ronald Richardson, 29, Kanata, Ont., Benbria Corporation
- Al Roback, 26, Vancouver, Grass Frames
- Simon Rouillier, 29, Montreal, NVI
- Bassil Silim Jones, 25, Montreal, Merchlar
- Chad Trytten, 29, Vancouver, Spark Integration Technologies
- Milan Vrekic, 28, Halifax, TitanFile
- Dave Wilkin, 24, Toronto, Redwood Strategic
- Chris Ye, 25, Toronto, Uken Games (FuEL Entrepreneur of the Year)
All 20 FuEL Award winners will receive profile in the December 2012/January 2013 issue of PROFIT Magazine and online at PROFITguide.com, plus free business consulting services from KPMG Enterprise. FuEL Entrepreneur of the Year winner Chris Ye also receives passes to the 2013 PROFIT 200 CEO Summit and GrowthCamp, PROFIT's exclusive conferences for the leaders of Canada's top growth companies.
How they were chosen
This year's FuEL Awards winners were selected through a combination of public votes (20% of a candidate's final score) and review by a blue-ribbon panel of judges against the following criteria: Product/service innovation (25%); Community building/social responsibility (15%); Job creation/employment practices (15%); Commercial results/potential (25%).
The judging panel included: Harley Finkelstein, Chief Platform Officer, Shopify; Kunal Gupta, Chief Executive Officer, Polar Mobile; Mike Jagger, President, Provident Security Corp.; Tessa Mintz, VP of Volunteers and Programs, Canadian Youth Business Foundation; and Sarah Prevette, Founder, Sprouter.
Learn more information about the FuEL Awards.