Six to Start

Week 102

Inspired by our friends over at Schulze & Webb (who will be S&W no longer, it appears), we're aiming to make more use of our painfully neglected blog to keep you up to date on what we're doing.

In typical startup mode, we've been perpetually refining, redrafting and recasting our strategy. It's been difficult - the work that we're doing crosses so many areas--entertainment, broadcasting, distribution, publishing, gaming--that, recession or not, are undergoing dramatic upheaval and shift, but it's because of that shift that we're excited: there's a hell of a lot of opportunity for disruption.

The latest version of our business plan, or, in 37 Signals parlance, the latest guess, is aimed at taking us from where we are now to where we want to be in three years time. It's clear that there's a way for us to do this in an organic growth fashion - we've more or less sustainably grown from three full time employees to eight over the last two years - but we're also aware that we could be achieving a lot more. Paul Sturrock, in his role as Consultant Exec-In-Residence at Nesta, has been helping us out over the last couple of months, meeting with us roughly every week to help us through this process.

That's the business side. Most of Six to Start is working on Smokescreen right now, in the final stretch toward launch next month. Smokescreen is by far our biggest project: it was in development for over a year, and production started in January.

Adrian has been to the BBC Online Open Day quizzed Simon Nelson on the BBC's commitment to original 360 drama commissions; that was his non-Smokescreen task last week. This week, he's off to the Royal Observatory at Greenwich for their Citizen Science Workshop.

My main project at the moment is working on a new E4 drama coming out later this year. We're working out some creative kinks, but other than that are going full steam ahead on production. Besides working on the E4 project, I'm off to Glasgow having been selected for the Cross Creative training and development course - this week's the kickoff meeting - and also to catch up with 4iP and Learning and Teaching Scotland about our iPhone project, All Write.

Finally, three Six to Start-related talks have made it through to the 2010 SXSW Interactive Panel Picker:

Smokescreen: Online Stalking, Phishing, and Hacking - For Kids! How do we get teens to think about online privacy, trust, and identity? TV, films and books haven't worked - but a game that simulates the internet, with a gripping drama and fast-paced missions definitely could. We talk about the making of Smokescreen, a new online game for Channel 4.
Panelists will include Adrian Hon (Chief Creative at Six to Start), Alice Taylor (Commissioner at Channel 4 Education) and Margaret Robertson (Games Consultant, former editor of Edge magazine)
Branding And Slaughtering The Sacred Content Cow
What we've done, and what we would've done differently the second time round: slaughtering some sacred branded cows in online content, design and communications from panel speakers ranging from an ARG design company to a communications agency, a music service and a digital agency.
Panelists will include Dan Hon (Six to Start), Iain Tait (Poke) and Katy Lindemann (Naked Comms)
Blood on the Bookshelves: How Publishing Can Survive
eBooks, book piracy, and the lure of gaming mean that the next decade could see the end of traditional publishing. This presentation will suggest how publishing will change, how publishers can survive, what publishers can learn from gaming and what writers will want from their editorial-service-provider in this new landscape.
Panelists will include Adrian Hon (Six to Start) and Naomi Alderman.

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