Derrick Morton | Crain's Portland

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Derrick Morton

Background:  

Seattle-based FlowPlay develops browser-based virtual world technology and multiplatform games like Vegas World, in which users interact to play casino games. FlowPlay’s first consumer product, ourWorld, is said to be played by more than 30 million players, and is among the most popular teen virtual worlds.

The Mistake:

We were talking to one of the best-known brands in gaming about doing a project together. Because they were one of the best out there, we were really excited about building a new product where we’d take their brand, put it on top of our technology, and helping them get in front of consumers.

Our role in the project was to be responsible for the production side of the business, while their role was to do the marketing and customer acquisition. We went through great pains to build the product and spent a lot of money on resources.

Right after the launch, however, it became obvious that the partner wasn’t going to hold up their part of the bargain, and the whole thing fell apart.

Sometimes your excitement can blind you to the potential pitfalls in the plans.

The Lesson:

In the business development arena, it’s very exciting to make new deals with companies and put a structure together for a new project. But sometimes your excitement can blind you to the potential pitfalls in the plans.

In this instance, our project partner was a strong brand, so I believed that they would hold up their side of the bargain. They didn’t.

I should have held their feet to the fire, contractually. I should have done more due diligence and structured the deal to include more language around what would happen if they didn’t hold up their end of the bargain or didn’t perform.

You shouldn’t let a company’s merit stop you from drawing up a contract that protects you. If the cost of making a deal happen means giving in to unfavorable terms, it’s probably something you should walk away from.

Follow FlowPlay on Twitter at @FlowPlay

Photo courtesy of FlowPlay

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