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How Michael Acton Smith Got Out Of Perplex City And Found Moshi Monster Success

“If ever there is a moment to join or start up your own company, this is it,” says Smith. “To be the little nimble startups that can run rings around the major corporations and move faster than them and be more innovative than them, the moment is now.”

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Smith’s first enterprise was a nerdtastic shopping site called Firebox that used to get a fair amount of coverage when I was at Gizmodo. Then I crossed paths with Smith when he was preparing to start an alternate reality game called Perplex City, in which players had to work together to solve puzzles across different kinds of media in order to win a $200,000 cash reward. “Commercially it was a bit disastrous,” says Smith. But he learned a good deal about video games and social media in the process.

Through it all, Smith, 37, was doodling in his notebook, where a fantasy world of cute mutants with Pokemon-style powers was emerging. And instead of picking up his toys and going home after the previous failure, Smith reinvested all of his money in Moshi Monsters. It started with a web game and quickly evolved into music, toys, and beyond. Mind Candy is now being hailed as one possible model for the future of entertainment.

“If ever there is a moment to join or start up your own company, this is it,” says Smith. “To be the little nimble startups that can run rings around the major corporations and move faster than them and be more innovative than them, the moment is now.”

More Innovation Agents:

Getting Schooled On Starting A Business By DonorsChoose.org’s Charles Best

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About the author

I'm the executive editor of Fast Company and Co.Design.

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