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Matt Maroon of Blue Frog Gaming

Meet Matt Maroon, founder of Blue Frog Gaming, a game development company.
What is Blue Frog Gaming?
Blue Frog Gaming makes mid-core to hardcore social games. Our games can be found on the web, iPhone, Android and Facebook.
How did you come up with the idea?
We started off doing a site where you could play fantasy sports games for real money. We had a background in online poker and built what was a lot like an online poker room for fantasy sports. That product never really got a lot of traction. One day to promote it I had the idea to do a Facebook game that we ended up calling Football Tycoon. Football Tycoon took off and became a moneymaker on its own, so we switched to social gaming.
What was the biggest surprise in starting your business?
How difficult it is. There are just so many areas you have to excel at to compete in a global industry like gaming. Your games are stacked up against every other game in the world. It’s no longer enough to just make a good game, you have to build a world-class organization, market it, support it, etcetera.

What does a typical day in your business look like?
Mostly a bunch of guys sitting around computers. Half of the team is writing code. A good chunk is creating the art and design, the rest are in support or management. Kids always hear about my company that makes games and they want to come visit. I think they expect something like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory and are let down when they see it’s just people quietly working.
What are some of the advantages to doing business in Ohio?
Costs are low. Rent is cheap and employees are cheaper than, say, California, where most of my industry is.
What resources or organizations in Ohio did you take advantage of and how did they help?
The Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit is applicable to gaming, which is a huge benefit to us.
Can you share a funny or amazing entrepreneurial experience with our readers?
We started off our company by going through a very prestigious seed-funding program called Y Combinator. At the end of three months of mentoring and working on your product, you pitch it to all of the best angels and venture capitalists in Silicon Valley. I was new to public speaking and a little bit nervous, so my co-founder and I did a few shots of my favorite tequila, Don Julio Reposado.
A couple days later, Y Combinator sent out a group email asking people what they learned from their experience and specifically asked me if I had any advice for remaining calm. My advice to have a few shots of your favorite liquor didn’t go over so well, but it worked for me.
What inspires you?
People who run world-class organizations in any field and who advance not just themselves, but their entire industry. If I had to pick one person I particularly admire, it would be Chef Thomas Keller.
Can you share some of your favorite off-time activities or hobbies?
I’m a foodie, so I love cooking and travelling to great restaurants and collecting Michelin stars.
What founders do you admire and why?
The ones who persevered through hard times. It’s easy to admire the Zuckerbergs and Pages and Brins. But I guess maybe because it’s been more along the lines of my own experience, I admire the ones like Evan Williams who had curveball after curveball thrown at them and managed to survive. If you can take a company through layoffs, pivots, and changing landscapes, and end up with something successful, I find that incredibly impressive.
What’s next for you?
I’ll be doing this for a while, but I’d like to eventually own a restaurant. That will probably be my next act in life. I love food, I love feeding people and making them happy, and I’m a night owl by nature, all of which makes me think restaurants and bars are where I should be.
Interview by Joe Baur

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