This is a story of a hobby transforming into a passion and also a means of living; maybe this is what you’d call the pursuit of happiness. One might fail but there’s no regret because you gave it your all. Rahul Bendre, founder at 5Shells, along with his friend Kshitij Saxena, started out by creating a board game when in college at IIT Kanpur in 2007.
Fests and events are the heart of every college and this where the board game found its value. The strategy game they made (called Kingpin) was used in the business event at the college for 3 years and the thought of starting up a company or anything on similar lines hadn’t cropped up initially. But a continuous popularity amongst all those who played it, made the duo think. Are we sitting on something big? They thought.
But as the case is many times they took offers during their campus placement season and began their corporate journey. “We joined companies and started working; me in Mumbai and Khitij in Bangalore, but Kingpin was always on the back of our minds.” says Rahul. They came to the conclusion that pining alone won’t help; they’ll have to take concrete steps if they wanted something to work out. Priniting the board game and distributing it and expansion on those lines was going to be cumbersome. Giving it a serious thought, they met a few Professors at IIM Bangalore and found a new direction. Two more people came on board; Vishal Kumar, the designer and Shobhit Aggarwal a doctoral student at IIM-B.
After having feedback from the professors, they tailored the board game and created a training module around it based on the best theoretical frameworks from Harvard University and IIM Bangalore to meet the training needs of corporates. The Strategic Thinking Workshop enabled employees at corporates to discover their hidden Personality Traits and hone their potential in Strategic Decision Making and Negotiation.
The feedback received for the workshops was very encouraging and it was conducted at a bunch of companies. The game was also a part of the compulsory course at IIM Bangalore. But again they faced a roadblock; scaling up. And quickly! Scaling up was proving to be difficult and they were seeing lesser returns than the efforts that were being put in. Something new was bound to happen.
Next destination? Online, it had to be. Their passion for making games found solace with facebook apps to startout with. Their first game, Beehive is a simple but engaging game.
No publicity has been done for Beehive till now but they’re launching it soon commercially in a partnership with CareerLauncher. You can play the game here.
Youbet is another campaign/game they run in partnership with Justeat wherein they’re taking advantage of the current IPL fervor. You can start betting and win badges here.
These efforts are being made to work up the monetization area. They’re also in talks with finance firms online to gamify their offerings as 5shells have a strong stock simulation application. Moving forward, 5Shells will be very aggressive on mobile apps and one can expect some very high quality apps coming from their stable within 3-6 months. We’ll have our eyes open.
As mentioned earlier, Kshitij Saxena, the chief strategist and salesman has a B.Tech from IIT Kanpur and a PGP from IIM Bangalore. He has a two year experience with IP litigation and a long clientside scripting experience.
Rahul Bendre is a passionate game designer who did an Msc Integrated course from IIT Kanpur. He’s a pro at flash programming and server-side scripting.
Vishal Kumar, the creative right brain in the company is also an engineer from IIT Kharagpur along with a Graphic Design course from NID Ahmedabad. He headed the graphic design department at Myntra.
Shobhit Aggarwal who is a Phd. From IIM Bangalore heads the corporate training initiative at 5Shells. He has more than 3 years of experience in training and related activities and is also an avid gamer who has played and evaluated more than 250 online games spending more than 10,000 hours since 2002.