About Monty

Monty Munford has more than 15 years' experience in mobile, digital media, web and journalism. He is the founder of Mob76, a company that helps tech companies raise money and exit. He speaks regularly at global media events with a focus on Africa, writes a weekly column for The Telegraph, is a regular contributor to The Economist, Wired, Mashable and speaks regularly on the BBC World Service.

Communities are the next games play for Palringo

IMG_20140919_143357A sunny day in Sweden is the type of experience that makes the visitor feel cleansed, vibrant and healthy… even after a pint of Guinness and a pie at a tourist pub in Gothenburg.

People-spotting here is so modern that it wouldn’t be that weird to see a couple of pregnant men walking around talking to mothers, driverless cars parking themselves or air-bicycles being softly pedalled by children on the way back from school.

What would be weird, however, is a man without a checked shirt or beard. If London’s Shoreditch has beards, then Sweden’s Gothenburg owns beards. Bearded Londoners look like Beau Brummell, bearded Swedes look like Grizzly Adams.

This is Sweden’s second biggest city and it’s quietly cool. Surrounded by an archipelago of islands, defined by cafe culture and hipster bars, Gothenburg understandably attracts creative people and companies, those who know that small cities like this are the future of developed humanity, where businesses as well as families will prosper.

One such company based in the centre of the city used to be called Free Lunch Design and is now part of The Palringo Group, a messaging app that focuses on group-forming, games, chat and communities. The company now has more than 28 million global users and more than 350,000 special interest groups.

Magnus Alm was the CEO of Free Lunch Design, but now heads marketing for Palringo and when I enter his office, I am asked to take off my shoes, my Birkenstocks fitting in rather neatly with the array of discarded footwear by the door. Immediately, it’s clear this is a games company. Avatars of staff members adorn the walls, and Alm himself is wearing a red fez; it’s going to be an interesting couple of hours.

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Free Lunch Design were a very successful company before the acquisition by Palringo in the Spring of 2014. The company had already worked with mega brands Disney, Paramount and Marvel, as well as having almost a million Likes on Facebook. To this day, the company is still one of Sweden’s biggest Facebook developers.

But that is past, now Alm is looking forward to a interesting future with Palringo and creating the new force in gaming, that of community. He has a good platform to work with. Palringo has more than 28 million users, of which there are 350,000 interest groups, some of which have two thousand members.

The idea is to meld chat-based applications with games, be they downloaded and fitted with a Palringo button to join these communities or by adding a games-based layer to the messaging technology itself.

“Game publishers can reap benefits by becoming platform owners such as messaging apps, social networks and communities…or platform owners becoming game publishers. Loyal users being presented by relevant and appealing content within an environment they feel comfortable can be a method to strike gold in the app stores,” says Alm.

As I stroll around (bare-footed) around Alm’s offices, the feeling is one of placidity and calm, games being organically created in a quiet and intelligent atmosphere. Here, we are a universe away from other entertainment companies where business is conducted in a frenetic fashion.

Palringo also seem to be hiring wisely and ramping up its marketing budget to bring community managers from outside the games and mobile industry, underscoring how important the curation of Palringo’s burgeoning communities is to the company.

As I bid farewell to the Palringo guys and put back on my shoes, there is a sense that while this company may not be manically shouting above their weight and promising the world, there is a calm, yes, Swedish, assurance here that suggests the future… although probably not the imagined pregnant fathers I mentioned earlier.

150-WORD PHONE REVIEW – CAT B15Q

CAT_B15QI recently had the highly depressing and long-winded experience of breaking the screen on my Nexus 4. If there was ever a cottage industry that needs modernising, it’s that one.

It took two suppliers, three attempts, four weeks and £135 to fix the screen and made me think differently about the so-called ‘strongphones’ that are becoming increasingly popular.

These are rugged products that companies such as CAT market as unbreakable, waterproof and which can be dropped from almost two metres. Round the world yachtsmen use them as much as plumbers do, so I splashed out £230 without a contract for the CAT B15Q.

A month later, I’m sold. It feels like a proper phone, thick and textural and all-weather. I know it’s in my pocket; its bulk reminds me and if I was a working man (rather than a glorified typist) I’d throw it in my tool-box like a tape measure.

It’s brilliant. Goodbye fragile-screen, I don’t need you any longer… although I miss your snazzy camera sometimes.

REVIEW: 8.5/10

We went to Soweto and made a little video

Last weekend, three mates and I had an amazing weekend in Soweto. We went with the great Ilan Ossendryver, an experienced photojournalist who took us around some garden/football projects he was involved in.

We drank with the locals, ate meat with the locals, took pictures of the locals (with respect and their permission), watched the night Orlando Pirates football live at the stadium with the locals and even jumped 70 metres inside an abandoned cooling tower into a net (NEVER AGAIN) with the locals.

This is a one-minute video that ends abruptly, but is still a little bit of fun about a magical day.

The Rwandan Tech Incubator’s Top 10 startups

rwandaRwandan tech incubator think has announced their top 10 finalists for the initial intake of the newest incubator in Africa. The top 10 companies were selected from more than 150 applications from across 20 countries, of which 14 were from Africa.

These companies are some of the best new innovators providing digital and technology solutions that have the potential to scale across Africa.

These companies were chosen after submitting an application to think, and those applications were reviewed by the four-member Selection Committee, representing Tigo Rwanda, African Entrepreneur Collective, Millicom Digital Ventures, and leading Rwandan technology experts and entrepreneurs. Continue reading

Great Fridays shores up board with ex-Pearson hire

elephant indoorInnovative product and service design company Great Fridays has appointed Genevieve Shore to its influential advisory board with immediate effect.

Great Fridays advisory board is made up of an illustrious and eclectic mix of experienced Design and Business Leaders including Peter Gabriel (musician, technologist, inventor), Nancy Dickenson (independent design strategy consultant and ex-VP Design at eBay, PayPal, Apple), Peter Skillman from HERE and Josh Ulm (VP of Design at Adobe). Continue reading

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