The Quest to ‘Do It Better’ by Machess Lemton
Machess Lemton is on a perpetual quest—one of needing tools. The right and the best tools. Both from her own needs to build better, she also likes to take apart what is available. The goal is always to do it better. Whatever it is. The range on which this creative engineer applies this insatiable curiosity is remarkable. Everywhere she turns, she sees another product or service idea.
Machess is the truest example of the entrepreneurial mind that embraces the virtual world like she was born an avatar. Perhaps each resident feels that the largest of the virtual worlds, Second Life, is aptly named. It provides the stage upon which the multitalented like Machess can wear all the hats necessary to bring an idea into fruition. —EM
The Quest to ‘Do It Better’ by Machess Lemton
Any SL’er can start a business. Of course, experience is important.
My two worlds are similar, but not the same. I have a tech background in real life—engineering—so I know computers and programming more than business. SL enhances my experiences—uses my scripting and “interpersonal” skills. My strengths help, but mostly freedom in the SL world helps build business. The possibilities are only limited by imagination!
My product ideas come mostly from my needs as a user, builder, and landlord. As a hands-on person, I enjoy the process of creation. My business is built on my own products and I am the loyal user of those products. The needs to automate and serve customers better are the driving force for improvement.
I encourage customers to talk to me and ask if they need help. To facilitate, I keep each one’s purchase records and latest versions not only on the web, but on my own server. When anyone speaks to me, I know immediately what products are used. Sometimes customers make useful suggestions.
One of my greatest rewards in working hard is to see a project/product completed, used, and liked by others.
About four years ago, I heard of second life from an on-line news site, and I was immediately attracted to the idea and concept of the virtual world—how each resident has an avatar who can explore, interact with other residents and the world, being able to create, script, and apply real life rules in SL, but with the chance to do things we normally can’t do in real life.
Starting out with one product and three rental skyboxes, it took about a year to see a growth in business. Then I added more products. The oldest one, “Zeroprim Rezzer,” is still the top seller. Consequently, ‘rezzers’ are my business core. Growing strategically, I now offer a complete line of “rezzer” products that integrate with other business tools.
Now, the focus of development has shifted to “Multi-scene Rez Station”—users can switch between many different builds on a limited space without having to purchase large lands. Just by clicking a button on a menu, enjoy a different house each time! Another application is for dancers or art directors to switch between stages or scenes in performance. It doesn’t handle animations or choreography, but it allows users to locate different sets, pose balls, and backdrops. Notice [Machess clicks and her store appears complete with displays] how I can quickly change the layout and building of my store—I have versions with different setups.
Competition is probably fierce for scripters, but I value user experiences so I emphasize the ease of product use. Marketing matters, but more important is to offer teaching sessions that show customers and potential customers what they can achieve with my products. I have offered classes several times. And I use video—for that I developed CameraWorks—to show the capabilities. Of course, I am not the first person who has that idea. There are many smart people out there but I believe I can do it better and make it easier to use.
Although I don’t run a large skybox rental business, I use it to test, promote, and balance my product business. I first got into rentals after I was a tenant myself for several weeks. I began to wonder what can I do if I own a land. So I became a paid user and placed a skybox in the sky. Then I realized I need a rental box and a telepad and looked into those tools.
While I continue to improve existing products, I dedicate a block of time to develop new ones. In SL, besides learning how to make products easy to use or finding better ways to provide for customers, I have learned the courage to innovate. All these gained traits enhance real life where we often are afraid to take risks due to fear of failure. SL is like a test market for new ideas.
I like to try to make things myself—to know how they work and see if they can work better for me. Like most engineers, I have an insatiable desire to improve. When I get something to be more useful to me, I package it, and it then becomes my product. SL is the world of creation!
Creating takes most of my time, and I enjoy the process of reaction. Customer service does not take much time, thanks to my product server and updaters objects so customers may update their own products. I try to reply to any IM within a day, making sure every question gets answered.
For scripting I work alone. For marketing or graphics, I do have collaborators. But I try to do even those myself, just to learn how to do it. When collaborators have time, then I would rather have them do that. To work with a group of people requires interpersonal skills, leadership skills, trust etc.
My customers are storeowners, builders, and landlords. I don’t market to them differently. Each product may appeal to a variety of users. And having a multiple income stream is one of the rewards being a creator and business owner in SL.
My biggest challenge is to market my products and expand the size of the user base—to let many people know what they can do with my product. Other goals are to be the #1 brand in the rezzer business and to create a unique brand to represent products that are user friendly and flexible. I think the potential of my business is unlimited because I have a very integrated approach.
SL business also mirrors real life business in development time. Gaining customer confidence, earning a reputation, building a brand image—all need to be built. Plus the challenges are always limited by the size and scale of the world SL market. Because SL moves fast, we have to keep up.
I wish SL could be my full time job, but it can’t at this point. Because I spend a lot of time creating in SL, it was hard to balance in the beginning. Right now, I manage to only create (and script) during the weekends. I schedule carefully. Also I keep track of all improvements I did—a record for everything so I can start immediately when I have to.
For those starting out in business, understand the market and attributes of your products. Compare your product to the rest of similar products on the market. Where does yours stand and as a user will you buy it just by looking at it? Step out a bit and think like a customer. Don’t start big, focus on one or two things that are really good! If that works, build from there.
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© 2014 by Eleanor Medier, Sim Street Journal. Articles cannot be reprinted without permission.