Why Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) is the Safest “Startup Angel Investment Opportunity”


Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ-TSLA) is the best “Angel Investment Opportunity”

I’ve often asked myself: why am I a Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ-TSLA) bull, despite unimpressive financials (to say the least), sky-high valuation, and a seemingly unfocused CEO.

If you look at the financials, things aren’t that great. Tesla in general is still losing lots of money (especially if you don’t count occasional Carbon Credit Tax Credit boosts). It still requires a TON more money to expand and operate. For some reason Elon Musk was already working on Giga Factories 3, 4, and 5, when Giga Factory 1 hasn’t even been completed and required more capital. The whole company’s success weighs on Model 3 and Tesla’s ability to suddenly mass produce cars that not even much larger automakers could do. Finally, growing competition in many other well established car brands are coming into the market and stealing Tesla’s pie.

How does it make sense to invest in this company?

Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ-TSLA) and the Silicon Valley way

After pondering about this question for a while, I realized that the reason why I like Tesla, is that it is almost the most conservative and strongest type of Angel Investment Deal one can find.

In the past, I have made non-trivial money from Startups, and I know how things work in this world (many Venture Capitalists like to refer their portfolio companies to me for my help). When you look at Tesla, Inc as a public company value stock, it may not be that attractive. However, if you still see Tesla as a growth phase startup that requires capital to grow and can take over an entire industry, this is a huge opportunity. As an Angel Investor myself, I couldn’t give up on this opportunity.

In the startup world, when we invest we mostly look at a few things.

  1. Team
  2. Traction
  3. Total Addressable Market Size
  4. Competition

I will explain in this post how Tesla fits the perfect pattern for all of the above. However, I first want to address one thing.

Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ-TSLA) does not lose money on every car sale

Many bears like to throw out the statement that “Tesla loses money on every car it sells.”

This is false.

Tesla makes a margin on every car it sells. However, because it is so aggressively setting up new infrastructure and new R&D, it ends up losing money. Let’s say you run a restaurant and invest $10,000 to put iPads on each table. Then say that each food item costs $1 but you can sell it for $11. After selling 900 of this food item, you would have made $9,000 in gross profits. However, since it does not cover the $10,000 investment towards new technology, you post a net loss of $1,000. This does not mean that you lose money on every food item you sell.

Even though the “Tesla loses money on every car it sells” term sounds fancy and catchy for bears, it is entirely inaccurate. If you are a bear for this very reason, I believe the risk you are taking is based on misinformed decision-making and would recommend reconsidering (of course, other reasons could still justify a bear thesis).

With that out of the way, lets cover the fundamentals of startup investing for Tesla.

The Team behind Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ-TSLA)

OK, so there are a lot of great talent behind Tesla, but for now I’m only going to cover Elon Musk for somewhat obvious reasons. For research on this, I have actually read his whole biography, so I may know more than the average bear about the entrepreneur behind the company.

In startup investing, we look at whether the entrepreneur has successful past “exits” – meaning they made their investors a lot of money. Entrepreneurs who have big exits are hard to come by, and every angel investor wants to jump on that deal when the opportunity becomes present. Even if an entrepreneur has failed 8 times in the past, as long as they have 1-2 successful exits, they are considered gold and a worthy bet.

Now the thing about Elon Musk is that, Elon Musk has NEVER had a failed venture. We all know about his successful endeavors at Paypal (sold to eBay for $1.5 billion) and SpaceX (being the third entity – behind the U.S. and Russian governments – to launch rockets into space at 10% the cost). Tesla itself of course is a successful example.

Critics might unfairly call Tesla a funding-sucking Ponzi scheme, but even if they believe Tesla is overvalued, it definitely HAS value. Tesla makes cars that people want to buy, and these people are willing to pay $100K for these cars. After the purchase, many say their next cars will be Teslas too.

That’s value. It may or may not be a $50 Billion company, but I’m sure everyone will agree it is at least a $1 Billion company. That means, irrefutably, Elon Musk is a successful entrepreneur with Tesla.

Well, every successful entrepreneur must have many little failures before they turn big right? What a lot of people don’t know is that even Elon Musk’s first venture that most people have never heard about about (Zip2) was also sold to Compaq Computer for $307 Million. If any smart-smirky bear wants to call Elon Musk an incompetent executive, first ask themselves if they or someone they know and respect have created companies worth over $300 Million in the past – multiple times.

Well, actually, Elon Musk does have one failed venture. When he was a boy he wanted to start an arcade company in South Africa. But after getting all the prep work done, the venue required an adult to sign the paperwork, and his parents refused to. Perhaps Elon Musk is over his head in optimism after all.

I strongly believe if there was an opportunity to invest in a startup that is run by Elon Musk, every serious and experienced Angel Investor would rush to become part of that deal.

The Traction behind Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ-TSLA)

The next thing a startup investor looks at is Traction. Traction blinds all eyes. Even if the investor has no idea why someone would use a nose-picking app, as long as you can tell him that you have 5 million active users every month and its growing by 20% each week, he’ll give you money if he believes that can be sustained.

Now, traction does NOT mean profitability. Traction means growth, demand, and product-market fit. It means that if investors put in more money, it will contribute to the business becoming more successful, as opposed to “figuring out how to get the first customer.” Startup Investors actually don’t care about profits much, because all revenue generated should be put back into growth, R&D, and expansion.

Many Venture Capitalists actually call their portfolio companies that are just making decent profits the “walking dead,” because it makes enough money to sustain forever, but it will never grow fast enough to dominate an industry (and lead to an Exit).

If you look at Tesla (and companies like Amazon – NASDAQ: AMZN), they have traction. The Model S was a big success. People not only buy it, they rave about it. It receives huge (or ewwge) reviews. Model X – while having some operational issues due to complexity in vendors – is also a product that people want and are willing to pay for. Model 3 has over 400,000 people putting in $1000 deposits to say they want the car. I think there is no denying that Tesla has traction.

Now the question is whether Tesla can service that demand. Well, let me just say that startup investors LOVE to jump on deals where the demand is too high but they don’t have enough capital to supply the product. The traction is there, and if money can help deliver value to the demand, money is well invested.

The Market of Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ-TSLA)

So sometimes you would have a great entrepreneur with great traction, but there isn’t a big market anymore, or perhaps it has been “tapped out.” For instance, you could say Twitter (NYSE: TWTR) has a successfully proven CEO, and great traction. However, you could argue that Twitter has already acquired most of its market, and it is unrealistic for it to get another 50% more users. That puts a limit to the stock. Some people believe that Tesla has already tapped out the Electric Vehicle market, but I think that is extremely far from the truth.

We are only at the beginning the EV Market. More and more people are moving toward hybrids and EVs, not necessarily because they care about the planet, but because they like the cars better. Many people like how fast the cars can accelerate. Many people like how quiet it is. Others like the feeling of never needing to go to a gas station as long as they can charge at home (growing startups like Filld (a former client of mine) are there specifically to address this need by sending gas trucks to fuel your car where it is parked). A great amount of EV buyers and Tesla owners say they will buy the same thing again.

This market is only growing at a rapid pace and not shrinking. Even for those who don’t believe in global warming, we know that smog in a city is undesirable. Beijing and Los Angeles are filled with smog and you could barely see the sunrise. Reduced emissions has many appeals that is seen and felt.

The only two barriers to adopting more EV’s are 1) Pricing and 2) Range Anxiety. People often can’t afford the EV’s that can give them over 300 miles per charge (even in the $30,000 range). There is no doubt in my mind the cost and range of EV’s will dramatically decrease in the future years to come, removing those barriers. When those barriers are being slowly lifted, I believe that we currently are not even at 10% the market capacity for EVs in the future world.

Another thing to remember is that Tesla is also not just a car company. It is an ENERGY company. This is why it is not unfathomable that Tesla can grow to become bigger than Ford or GM. Its addressable market includes the car industry, solar panels industry, and energy industry. Here I point out some opportunities in the solar panels and energy industry.

Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ-TSLA) will dominate in Solar Energy

The Solar City acquisition was questionable to many people. The valuation of it might be high, and the cash situation isn’t that stellar either. However, it is still a dominating player in the solar industry. If you believe a lot more organizations will use solar panels in the future, then is makes sense to bet on the biggest companies in that space. I don’t think many people are “against” solar energy. The only barrier for people to have it is: 1) integration hassles – too lazy to investigate or roof too small 2) cost to implement.

As we know from Behavioral Science (which happens to be what I’m good at), we often don’t want to make big changes to our behavior until we see our neighbors do the same thing. I believe as more and more people get solar panels, it will only create a ripple effect in driving up demand.

However, the key is that the cost and installation process of solar panels would become a lot easier. As Elon Musk said,

It’s looking quite promising that a solar roof will actually cost less than a normal roof before you even take the value of electricity into account. So the basic proposition would be, ‘Would you like a roof that looks better than a normal roof, last twice as long, cost less and by the way generates electricity?’ Why would you get anything else?

Now, there are comments about the “cheaper cost” is compared to more expensive roofs, and not the asphalt ugly ones. Besides the fact that Tesla is addressing wealthier families anyway as his target market, I believe over time, the cost would still become lower and lower, eventually being affordable for more households. Betting on this is betting on minimum linear advancement of the human race. I’m in on that bet.

Every power outage crisis is an opportunity for Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ-TSLA)

Beyond the car and solar part of Tesla’s business, another huge potential is its energy and battery business. For this industry, the sky is the limit. You may already know that the State of Hawaii has already deployed 272 Tesla power packs and is expected to save them 1.6 million gallons of diesel fuel annually. South Australia had a total black out, and immediately they pursued the opportunity to work with Tesla on providing 24/7 power no matter what the condition.

Do you know what that means? It means that every time there is a power outage, that becomes an opportunity for Tesla (luckily, these “crisis opportunities” don’t have to cost people lives). The weeks prior to this writing, San Francisco and Fremont both had a power outage, causing the BART public transportation system to stop functioning, as well as the traffic lights of the already-hectic San Francisco streets. People are talking about how the government needs to buy Tesla products to make sure this doesn’t happen again. It would be crazy to not see this as a great line of growing business (especially when the buyers are big pocket governments).

Unfortunately and fortunately, Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas said to investors, “At this time, we ascribe zero value to Tesla shares from this business.” To me. this just means untapped upside potentially not factored into the stock.

Competition expands market for Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ-TSLA)

Another big critique is that the competition will suddenly burst ahead and steal Tesla’s lunch. Many startups as well as large companies like GM, Audi, and Porsche are all launching long range EV’s that people would want to buy. In the startup world, that is actually not a problem, AS LONG AS the company stays innovative AND the market is expanding fast. 

As mentioned above, I believe EV is going to become more and more dominant in the future (you can see that the people that first endorsed online shopping are the ones that are first endorsing EV’s – early adaptors of a new trend). Often when you have a “new” market, it takes a lot of time and investment to “educate the market” and generate demand. When the competitors come in, they will also spend considerable (and even more) amount of effort and advertisement to educate the market.

Those critics who used to say, “EV’s will never be picked up by serious car companies and consumers. Tesla will die,” (this was not that long ago) – suddenly are being shut down. Now they are saying, “See, everyone major car manufacturer are doing EV’s. Tesla will die.”

Consumers who are not sure about the viability and attractiveness of EV’s are suddenly seeing respectable companies telling them that it is okay and even good to get EV’s. I believe since the market is so untapped, having competitors come in only expands the market.

This leads to the 2nd point:

Can Tesla continue to innovate in this growing market? My answer is yes. Many of the serious car companies are trying to chase after what Tesla accomplished 5 years ago. Many of them say they will launch a competitive EV by 2020. By then, Tesla would continue to be 5 years ahead, and the competitors would have more copying work to do.

This is common in the startup world. A Startup does something cool, and is ignored by the big companies. After the startup proves to become a “threat,” big old giant company spends 4 months of executive meetings to decide they want to do something similar. And after 2 years, they launch a product that is about 70% as good as the first product they were trying to copy. The 2 years allows the young startup’s lifespan to DOUBLE, becoming way better than what the giants copied. As a result, many large companies buy small startups just to shut them down.

Tesla continues to invest in innovation. This is why it does not turn a profit. It wants to always be 5 steps ahead when others are playing catchup. Other car companies might get a tremendous amount of sales and become very successful. But would this stop the growing market from buying Tesla cars? I don’t think so. I have seen enough of this same pattern to be willing to bet my money on it.

Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ-TSLA) will require more fundraising, and true investors are willing to fund it

Another big critique on Tesla’s stock is that they continuously need new rounds of capital raising, diluting the stock. In the startup investment world, people who are extremely worried about dilution due to future rounds are often unseasoned.

The very meaning of raising investment money is that a company can take the money and create more value than the amount received. If a company raises $100 because it can generate $1000 in value after, the $100 is a no-brainer.

The only question is, do people believe that the extra capital raised can contribute to more or less value than the received amount? If the capital raising for Tesla is only to do random unproven things that may or may not result in a return, that could be questionable. However, if we know that Tesla has 400,000 deposits and needs to invest in gigafactories to deliver to the demand, or to continuously stay innovative, it is not crazy to believe that the money invested would result in much higher value growth for the company.

But, what about the dilution? It’s great that Tesla is taking new money and becoming more valuable, but I’m being diluted so it must be bad right?

Well, the key is this:

If Tesla raises a lot more capital and you are diluted by 30%, but Tesla is able to take the capital raised and increase the value of the company by 150%, then suddenly the value of your stock actually went up significantly. In the startup world, we know that if you own 10% of a $9 Million company (so $900K in equity), and suddenly it raised another $1 Million, yes your allocation of the company’s equity is diluted by 11%, but you now own 9% of a $10 Million company, which is still $900K in equity.

The simple breakdown is that, if a $9 Million company raises $1 Million, it’s new value is at the minimum $9 Million + the $1 Million cash raised. If the company has an extra $1 Million in the bank, it of course is at least $1 Million more valuable than before. If you believe the $1 Million raised would generate more than $1 Million in value due to clever investments (by an intelligent leader – see above), then each dilution round is actually a gain for your investment.

Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ-TSLA) investors are motivated by Epic Meaning & Calling

So I am known for my work in gamification and behavioral design. Among the 8 Core Drives of my creation the Octalysis Framework, there is a motivation driver called Epic Meaning & Calling.

This means that people are taking an action because they feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves. When people are driven by Epic Meaning & Calling, they tend to commit seemingly irrational behaviors, often asking how can they become self-sacrificial to fulfill the bigger vision.

While I am a Tesla Bull, there are times where I increase my ownership if I know the consumer market will push it up more, and I get rid of many shares when I feel that the shorts would suddenly decide to double down. I’ve made quite a decent profit (mid to high double-digits) from that. However, often times when I feel like Tesla is stretched too high and is going to have a strong correction based on some one-off bad news, I’m often surprised that the stock doesn’t drop as much as I thought it would.

That is because Tesla investors are driven by Epic Meaning & Calling. Often times, it doesn’t matter what happens, or what the numbers say, there are Tesla investors (myself not included) who would still own the stock and even double down on the dips. People believe in Elon Musk and his mission, whether it is to go to Mars or populate the world with EVs. Because of that, they are not the type of investors that scurry away when bad news hits. This makes me feel very comfortable as I am riding the growth.

No matter what happens to the Tesla stock or the company, there is a whole army of people passionate about the cause to back it and keep the stock high. If Tesla ever gets to the point where they may risk bankruptcy due to their aggressive expansion plans, there will still be people waiting to fund it. And as mentioned above, raising new money and being diluted is a good thing I happily experience as long as I still believe the executive team remains competent.

Conclusion: Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ-TSLA) is still NOT a startup investment

Now given the arguments above, Tesla is still not a real startup investment. Even though it has significantly less risk, it also has much lower upside (we won’t be seeing 50x returns in five years). Also, it is definitely a lot riskier than a regular value stock play. I would not recommend people to bet their life savings on Tesla.

There is still probability where Tesla never fulfills its super ambitious mission and ends up dying (even Elon Musk admits that). But to those who have some extra money and are thinking about investing in startups, I would say that Tesla is one of the best bets out there. In addition, Tesla also has a lot more liquidity than real startup investments as you can enter and exit at will as a public company…for now.

At the end of the day, I find Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ-TSLA) a great hybrid investment that is less risky than investing in actual startups, but has a tremendous amount of upside compared to most public stocks. The public investors that have no idea/experience investing in startups do not understand how startup investing works, and therefore creates an opportunity for the rest of us who do.

Disclaimer: Ummm….I’m LONG Tesla?

4 Experience Phases in Gamification (#3): The Scaffolding Phase

Gamification Purpose

The 3rd Experience Phase of Gamification: Scaffolding

Earlier I have covered the first 2 experience phases of player’s journey: Discovery, and Onboarding. Scaffolding is the 3rd experience phase of a Player’s Journey.

Scaffolding starts once a player has learned the basic tools and rules to play the game and has achieved the “First Major Win-State.”

This phase is a bit difficult to cover in one writing because it’s the regular journey and activity that the user engages in, and anything goes during this stage based on what your product or service actually is. I’ve written a fairly long post here about this phase but it will be very core to my gamification concepts so for those who are learning about Octalysis and hope to design something engaging, you should read through it.

Scaffolding: the Regular Journey

Regarding the scaffolding phase, one thing to note is that more often than not, it requires the exact same (or very similar) actions on a regular/daily basis, and the Gamification designer must answer the question, “why would my users come back over and over again for the same actions?”

Rewards, Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

This is where people think about Rewards.

Rewards are great because they continuously motivate people towards a goal, even if it means repetitive activity.

However, it is a bit too focused on extrinsic motivation instead of intrinsic motivation.

Therefore, there are different types of rewards to engage more core drives beyond the reward itself.

In an earlier post, I have defined 6 Contextual Types of Rewards, including Fixed-action rewards, Random rewards, Rolling rewards, and more.

Keep note that usually extrinsic rewards are better at attracting people to participate in the first place (Discovery and Onboarding), but towards the Scaffolding and EndGame, you want to transition to intrinsic motivation as much as possible.

Let’s explore the Scaffolding Phase within the 8 core drives of Octalysis.

Core Drive 1: Epic Meaning & Calling

Continue reading 4 Experience Phases in Gamification (#3): The Scaffolding Phase

4 Experience Phases in Gamification (#2): The Onboarding Phase

4 Experiences Phases in Gamification # 2: The Onboarding Phase

The User Experience of Learning the Basic Skills of the Game

Previously, I wrote about the Discovery Phase (Phase I) of the 4 Experience Phases of a Player’s Journey. In this article, we’ll look into Onboarding, which is the second phase of a player’s journey.

Onboarding is about teaching users the rules and tools to play the game. Onboarding starts as soon as the user signs up, and ends when the users have mastered the fundamental skills needed to play the game and achieve the early stage win-states.

In the Discovery phase, the goal is to create motivation towards trying out your product through clever marketing and messaging. Generally, there are combinations of of Curiosity and Unpredictability (Core Drive #7), Epic Meaning & Calling (Core Drive #1), and perhaps Social Influence & Relatedness (Core Drive #5) if you want things to become more viral.

Onboarding, like the Discovery Phase, generally retains a weak form of Unpredictability & Curiosity (Core Drive #7), and it is the Gamification designer’s job to install other Core drives into the user experience.

Objective of the Onboarding Phase

When a user first joins, she generally just feels curious about the product. Depending on how well the Gamification designed the Discovery Phase, users could come because they just read about it somewhere (Core Drive 7), their friends told them to do so (Core Drive 5), its for a good cause (Core drive 1), their boss made them use the product (core drive 8) or because of high exclusivity (Core Drive 6).

No matter why the user decided to join the service, the most important Core Drive in the Onboarding Phase is mainly making players feel a sense of Development & Accomplishment(Core Drive #2). You want to make users FEEL smart and competent with lots of instruction, interaction, Empowerment and feedback reinforcements (Core Drive #3).

Far too often, Onboarding experiences for products feel confusing, too hands off, or too complex. This results in the user feeling stupid.

If your user feels stupid during Onboarding, then you’ll be fighting an uphill battle along with the user (think Google+).

This is why games deploy techniques such as the interactive step-by-step tutorials, the “glowing choice,” and early stage Win-States to reinforce Developement & Accomplishment in the Onboarding Phase.

Step by Step Tutorials (Game Technique #9)

Continue reading 4 Experience Phases in Gamification (#2): The Onboarding Phase

4 Experience Phases in Gamification (#4): The Endgame

Endgame Design

Endgame: The Final Phase for Experience Design

The Endgame is the 4th and final experience phase of Octalysis Gamification. The Endgame is all about how you retain your veterans and obtain more longevity in your experience.

This is the phase where users have done everything there is to do at least once (according to their perception), and they are figuring out why should they stick around and continue to play the game (especially when there are newer more exciting alternatives out there).

Many have said that, in World of Warcraft, the real game starts when your character has reached the max level. This is not intuitive for non-gamers, because the basic assumption is that once you reach the max level, there is nowhere to go. In the case of well designed games, that actually is the beginning of a multi-year journey.

Unfortunately, not many companies design for the Endgame, which I believe is a huge mistake. Your veterans are usually your best monetization vehicles, your best community moderators, and also your best evangelists.

The problem is that they have been there as long as they can remember, so why should they still continue to stay on board? Have you designed anything that specifically keeps them engaged and motivated?

The game-term Endgame

Often times there is a misunderstanding towards the term “Endgame.”

Some people think that this means the game is about to end, and ask, “What about games that are meant to last forever such as infinite games?”

In reality, in the gaming world the term Endgame is not where the game ends. The Endgame is where a user has reached the highest level and is transitioning from the basic day-to-day scaffolding mechanics to a new set of mechanics that only advanced level players can infinitely do.

The Endgame is about endless fun

In Plants Vs Zombies, once you finish all the levels twice, the Endgame is about custom challenges that you can unlock and conquer. In the Diablo series, it’s “Diablo Runs” where players band together to defeat the final boss multiple times a day in order to get enough loot to perfect their gear. In FarmVille, it might be using all your gold and plants to create masterful artwork and take a screenshot before they all wither out.

Gamers would sometimes complain in many games that the game developers need to do more work because there’s really nothing to do in the Endgame, which means they have done everything but long for more. Some games may have the general journey (Scaffolding) of striving towards the max level, and the endgame lies in player versus player battles, or Group Quests of Max Level Players taking on extremely difficult challenges.

Differences to other Models

My terminology is also different from other gamification professionals’ last phase of a player’s journey. Kevin Werbach and Amy Jo Kim call the final phase of the journey “Mastery,” as the player has now achieved the highest level of play.

While I think the phrase Mastery is accurate, I believe that the term “Mastery” creates a feeling that it is actually the end of the journey – you have achieved mastery and are looking for something else to master now. With “Endgame,” it is still a “game” you play and try to master. It suggests that the journey keeps going.

So let’s examine how the endgame can be more engaging based on the 8 Core Drives of Octalysis

Core Drive 1: Epic meaning and Calling in the Endgame

During the end game it becomes much more difficult to install more Epic Meaning and Calling into the process. Continue reading 4 Experience Phases in Gamification (#4): The Endgame

Gamification Design: 4 Phases of a Player’s Journey

Gamification Onboarding

(Below is a manuscript snippet of my book, Actionable Gamification: Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards. Please subscribe to the mailing list on the right to order the book when it launches. This post may be moved into a Premium Area after a certain period of time. For a video walk-through, check out: Episode 5, The 4 Experience Phases of a Game).

We have covered in much depth and details on how to apply Level 1 Octalysis and the 8 Core Drives to your projects. While I believe a great amount of projects can be massively improved just with a good understanding of Level 1 Octalysis, it does have its limitations.

This is where we introduce the deeper arts of Level 2 Octalysis, particularly how it relates to different phases of a player’s journey.

Treat your product as Four different products

Most people see a product or service as one summed up experience – the product is good, bad, interesting, easy to use, funny or boring. That seems to be intuitive – after all, it is one product.

However, when it comes to user engagement design, I believe that’s a big mistake.

From a motivation standpoint, a user’s interaction and journey with a product is continuously evolving. The reason why a person is using a product on day one is often very different from the reason why this person is using this same product on day one hundred – the goal she is trying to fulfill is different, and even the features she sees are different!

People become involved with a game or a product, not as a single encapsulated event, but through a series of stages where they grow to understand it better. The user experience will develop gradually as familiarity with features and structure is gained.

If a product attracts people at the beginning, but as time goes by becomes boring and uninspiring, that’s a failure in design.

Similarly, if a game offers an amazing experience only after 20 hours of play, but prior to hitting the 20-hour mark it’s boring and torturous, then it almost does not matter as no one will reach that level.

A better way of think about the product is to view it as a user’s journey through evolving phases of product perception or experience. With each phase the product appears to be different – in essence, a unique, different product.

Therefore, a good Octalysis Gamifier can break the process into four distinct products, which emphasizes on the 4 Experience Phases of a Game: Discovery, Onboarding, Scaffolding, and Endgame.

A Level 2 Octalysis Gamifier will then gamify each of those 4 phases in an innovative way that adapts the 8 Core Drives.

In this chapter, we will look at a brief summary of each Experience Phase.

Note that the 4 Phases in Octalysis has certain overlap with UPenn Professor Kevin Werbach’s theories of Identity, Onboarding, Scaffolding, and Mastery.

In fact, I modified my original phrasing to sound more like his because I prefer to have a more unified language with less confusion in the gamification world. My framework is slightly different due to my own experiences but I do want to give Kevin Werbach credit for doing great evangelical and educational work in the industry.

The First Phase in the Player Journey is: Discovery

Continue reading Gamification Design: 4 Phases of a Player’s Journey

The Scaffolding Phase: The Beginner’s Guide to Gamification (Episode 23)

Part 23 of 90 is ready! Continue your journey with Octalysis in the Beginner’s Guide to Gamification video series.

These videos serve as a precursor to the book, Actionable Gamification: Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards and the more in-depth community, Octalysis Prime.

My TEDx talk on Gamification just reached 100K viewers on Youtube!

My Gamification TEDx speech in Switzerland reach 100K!

A few years ago, I went to Lausanne Switzerland to do a TEDx speech on my framework Octalysis Gamification. It was my first time visiting Europe, and it was a huge blast.

It was a pretty difficult speech to do, since originally this talk was a 5-hour workshop, and I had to shrink it to a 17 minute talk. Not only that, I had to include a bunch of videos and fun things to share to make it dynamic. Of course, a TEDx talk is more like a brochure instead of a manual. The goal of a brochure is to get people to want to learn more. Therefore, a lot of the deeper knowledge, including Level II and Level III Octalysis couldn’t be covered, but I had to make it fun.

Little known fact – I said the first sentence incorrectly, and for the first minute I was simply trying to recover from that. Usually I just intuitively do my talks with my slides, but TEDx asked me to memorize my lines and rehearse with them a few times. I was all ready to go, but then when I was onstage, the lighting was MUCH stronger than I expected. It threw me off and I uttered the sentence wrong. It was supposed to be, “Imagine a world where WORK is obsolete – where LABOR is a thing of a past.” I said, “Imagine a world where LABOR is…” and then I felt sad. It took me 1-2 minutes to pick myself back up again and be on my flow again. I always wonder if the talk would have been more successful if I maintained strong energy from the very beginning. Of course, we would never know.

Successes in Gamification after the Gamification TEDx Talk

Since then, I published my book Actionable Gamification, and have won two Gamification Guru of the Year awards by the Gamification World Congress. Many fans, book readers, and clients have contacted me after watching that talk. I am grateful how much this talk has contributed to my accomplishments today.

Thank you TEDx, thank you Lausanne, and thank you Switzerland.