MINNESOTA STARTUP TAKES INTERNATIONAL STAGE QONQR Prepares to Launch at the SXSW Conference in March
Born in a 48 hour whirlwind of caffeine and no sleep, QONQR (pronounced Conquer) is a geosocial game of world domination, and is the first in what promises to be a series of location-based, massively multiplayer games. QONQR was the winner of the Twin Cities Startup Weekend in September 2010, whereby teams are formed around an idea on a Friday night, with the goal of producing a viable business and prototype by Sunday evening. QONQR’s concept and resulting product is a game played primarily on mobile devices, where teams play to capture and retain territories on a map. This may sound quite similar to the objective of many of the board games we played as kids, but this battleground takes place on the real map of the world. All players compete in the same global battle and fight to control the territory in which they are physically standing, according to their current latitude and longitude. QONQR was recently selected as one of 40 startups to present at the Third Annual South By Southwest (SXSW) Accelerator in Austin, Texas this March. Over 400 hundred startups applied for the opportunity, and QONQR is the only company selected from the Midwest. Many of the other companies selected are from Silicon Valley, with a handful from Europe and Asia. SXSW is a two-week conference centered on music, film, and emerging technology, drawing tens of thousands of participants from an estimated 50 countries. The game was the vision of Justin Peck, and together with his three partners, Scott Davis, Andy Pickett, and Jessy Houle, the team is working to merge some of the hottest trends in the tech industry into a single package—social gaming, mobile games, and location-aware applications. When asked how the idea came to be, Peck responded, “The idea was something in my head for a while, but I started to think seriously about how it could work in the days leading up to Startup Weekend. The name came to me while I was standing in line, waiting to pitch the idea to the group, and we registered the domain name (www.Qonqr.com) five minutes later while we were watching the others present.” The buzz around QONQR both in the local software development community and on Twitter has been very strong. Scott Davis was invited by Microsoft to tell the QONQR story in the keynote speech at the Windows Phone 7 Developer Launch conference in Minneapolis. Davis said, “Our application was built entirely on the Microsoft platform and that is a major reason we were able to get so far, so fast. We were able to move huge pieces of our application to the new Windows Phone 7 in only a couple hours. Our Microsoft contacts have shown great interest in our progress to date.” QONQR is a member of Microsoft’s BizSpark startup program for entrepreneurs. QONQR has now closed its Alpha program, which ran continuously since winning Startup Weekend. QONQR had not realized the groundswell it had achieved among gamers until discovering that players in 14 states participated in the public alpha, most finding the game through social media channels. QONQR’s website now gives a teaser for the fully functional Beta, expected to launch at SXSW. The web-based Beta will run on both laptops and most of the newer smartphones. A native Windows Phone 7 and iPhone app are also in development with a release date expected near the same timeframe. A native client for Android is likely soon to follow. QONQR is partnering with W3i, another Minnesota-based firm, to lead its marketing initiatives in the Apple App Store. QONQR believes it is possible to see over one million installs of the application in the coming year.
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