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Screen grab from the online game Star Citizen. (Roberts Space Industries)
Screen grab from the online game Star Citizen. (Roberts Space Industries)

Small Business Briefing

Video game creator raises $7.8-million online Add to ...

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At some point, he’ll have liftoff

Chris Roberts wants to bring a little Wing Commander magic to the online world. The creator of the hugely popular space-combat game, which was released in 1990, is hard at work on a multiplayer online title called Star Citizen. And he’s already raised $7.8-million (U.S.) from the citizens of the Internet to help him do it, according to a story in VentureBeat.

Mr. Roberts has a few years to go before Star Citizen will be ready for a commercial release. These days, that’s a long time to wait. In a sprawling Q&A he addressed several issues, including the Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, and what people get for funding his efforts.

“We’re still raising money,” he said. “We’re doing somewhere between $7,000 and $10,000 a day on the site, which is pretty impressive. That’s helping pay for some of the development and newer stuff we want to do. That’s also paying for a higher level of community.”

Mr. Roberts and his staff provide regular progress updates on their website, they run online forums, host live chats and post video segments. His goal, he says, is to keep people “engaged and entertained” while they wait for the game, and maybe even distribute short sections of it along the way.

But the proof, of course, will be in the pudding. Ultimately his success will live and die by the quality of the finished product, and may help serve as a model, or a warning, for similar high-profile campaigns in the future.

Albertan scores U.S. development award

Kendra Borgen, who’s a marketing and communications specialist with the Economic Development Alliance (EDA) of Southeast Alberta, has won a 40 Under 40 award from New York-based Development Counsellors International. The program recognized talent working in the economic development profession on an international scale. A five-member selection committee had a pool of more than 150 candidates to choose from. “She has worked on some innovative projects that have helped position southeast Alberta as an attractive and unique place to invest in,” Wendy Blackwell, executive director for the EDA, said of Ms. Borgen in a press release. “In 2012, the team worked on the region’s first virtual unmanned vehicle systems conference, launched Savour the Southeast, an eat local initiative, and co-ordinated Renew West, a premier renewable energy conference.”

Plutocrats in their jets

Here’s a new one: a small-business airport. That’s an idea being floated for London’s Heathrow by the city’s mayor Boris Johnson, who supports building a new, four-runway hub. If that were to happen, the owners of Heathrow would require massive compensation. “It might have a great future as a business airport,” he told Airport World magazine, adding “it could be used by all these plutocrats in their jets.” Alternatively, Mr. Johnson said, Heathrow could be turned into a “tech city.”


For aspiring technopreneurs

Are you a current or recent science and engineering student interested in creating innovative solutions for today’s pressing problems? The IOS at the University of Toronto hosts its fourth annual Techno program for aspiring technopreneurs. During this month-long workshop, teams of young scientists and engineers learn the fundamentals of entrepreneurship and apply these lessons in a hands-on environment to translate their scientific discoveries into products and services.

Canadian Forces to entrepreneurs

Applications are now for the Prince’s Operation Entrepreneur, which assists Canadian Forces members interested in transitioning from military careers to entrepreneurs and improving their chances of business success. They can be of any age as long as they are within 12 months of voluntarily releasing, have been voluntarily released from the military, or have been (or will be) medically released (no time restrictions). Learn more about the program and apply by visiting the website of the Canadian Youth Business Foundation, or calling 1-866-646-2922.


Hire smart

Ideas are a dime a dozen. It’s executing on the ideas that build a business, and you can’t do that competitively without a great team – and paying competitive wages, columnist Chris Griffiths writes.


Location challenged

In this case study from March, 2012, George Donovan, owner of Gogii Games Corp., a Moncton-based developer of interactive games, knew that the choice of location for his company was one challenge that would never change. How to try to overcome it?

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