Lee Davy sits down with the graduate student, Alex Thomas, to talk about his new poker app: Poker Town, an app designed to help live poker lovers find the closest and best games in town.
Pseudo Echo wanted to take us to Funky Town. And I went, maybe a few too many times. Alex Thomas doesn’t have time for any of that old nonsense. The graduate student from Albany, New York, is more interested in taking us to Poker Town.
Poker Town is an app that connects live poker players so they can share the best games in town.
Let’s find out why Thomas decided to expend his energy in this field rather than growing honeysuckle, breeding Chow-Chows, or getting lost in the maze of Netflix.
My name is Alex Thomas, and I’m a graduate student at Albany. My parents are from India and then moved to the Bronx, NY which is where I was born. I’ve been playing poker since I was young and just love the game and want to see it expand.
Why are you doing this?
As a poker player myself, I know that it is difficult to find people to play with and to find local games. Everyone that I know that plays poker feels the same way. We are always looking for more people to add to our group of players, so we can get more games going and increase the variety of players.
Why are you the person to do it?
I’m a graduate student studying business, so I know how to market. I’m also very creative when it comes to marketing. Getting people to hear about my app will be the biggest challenge. Due to my creative marketing skills and being a poker player myself, I’m uniquely equipped to satisfy poker players.
Why is now the time to start?
As U.S states are starting to become more accepting of poker, now is a wonderful time to start.
Another reason is because of the declining poker activity from younger players, which Doug Polk said in a tweet is a real threat to the poker industry. As a college poker player myself, I’ve realised that younger people aren’t playing poker due to a lack of interest, but rather a lack of opportunities to play and the only option for most is the casino which is too intimidating of a place to start playing for young amateurs with a tight budget.
What will happen because Poker Town exists?
More poker games will be played, and it will act as a stepping stone for people interested in poker which means more poker players will be made.
How will this change how people feel about finding live poker games?
People will be happy now that they have more options for live games to choose from. It will make life much easier for players.
Who is it for?
It’s for anyone that is a poker player or anyone that is interested in poker. It is also for people who are looking to make friends in their local community, as poker is a great ice breaker to meet and get to know people.
Why will they care?
They will care because now they will have more connections of people and groups to play poker with. I learned from being a player and watching poker players, that players are always looking for more people to play with so they can practice different strategies.
What do the people you hope to serve want?
They want more options on places and people to play live poker with. For most people, the only option is the casino, and unless you have a high bankroll, that isn’t a good place to practice for most people.
What do they believe?
They believe that poker is an awesome game that everyone should play. They also believe that more people would play poker if there were more variety of places and people to play with.
How do they feel about the problem we solve?
They love it. Everyone I ask loves it, and so many have said that they had the same idea but never acted on it. I’ve even had poker players asking to throw me money in return for equity!
What do they do—where, when, why and with whom?
They play home poker games with each other whenever they can. They are always looking for more players to play with but have a tough time doing so. Some of them play poker to make money, and some simply love the game and are trying to get better at it. Some of the better players go and compete at the casinos and use the home poker games to practice to get ready for the casino.
What will customers say to their friends to recommend this product or service?
They will tell any of their poker friends that PokerTown is a great way to connect with local players and find more games.
There is a simple invite function on the app that lets you send a text message with a link to the app.
What are you really selling beyond the utility of the product or service?
I’m selling the social network of poker. People meet new poker players all the time, whether at private games or established poker rooms, but unless they are already connected on social networks like Facebook, they won’t be able to stay in touch with these new people. With PokerTown, it is very simple and easy to stay connected with players.
How can you add more value?
I will continue to learn more about what poker players want and do my best to service these players.
How will people find you?
At first, I’m going to use any possible media source I can to let people know we exist. I will get into Facebook groups of people that I think would be interested in our app. Part of the money in the Kickstarter campaign will go towards testing how well targeted Facebook ads would work. I think word of mouth and the in-app invite function will help.
The other reason I’m doing the Kickstarter campaign besides the money is to build traction and get backing even before we launch.
Where are they already looking, or not looking?
The only option is to ask their existing network of friends. Otherwise, the only option is to go to a casino in hopes of finding someone to play private games with.
What’s your greatest strength?
I would say my greatest strength is my creativity and ability to market.
What weakness might get in the way if you don’t address it?
I don’t have a tech background, so my cousin who is a software engineer is handling the tech side. He already has a full-time job and has a baby on the way, so I need to find the right person to handle the tech side.
What does success look like, today, this year, next and five years from now?
Our app is going to be done today and will be uploaded to the app store within a week. So near-term we would like to get people on the app and then begin to learn from the existing users to see how we can expand.
Another short-term success would be a successful Kickstarter campaign. If we can get the $25,000 that would be great to expand and prove that people want this service.
Success a year from now and beyond will be when PokerTown is the social network for poker. This will be when all poker players use PokerTown to find local games, connect with players, and use the extra content. The extra content will be things like poker strategy and poker videos.
What do you value?
I value ideas and creativity. That’s why I always look for feedback. There’s a feedback section in the app, and I hope our users can come up with some great feedback so I can make the app even better.
What do you want to change?
I want to change the way players find local games and the way poker players stay in touch with each other. I want to change the way potential new players get into the game of poker by giving them access to the poker community as well as give them resources to poker basics/strategy.
What promises do you want to make and keep?
I promise PokerTown will bring more variety in options of local games to choose from and variety in people to play with.
What matters most right now?
The Kickstarter campaign matters most right now.
What’s going to matter more three, six or eighteen months from now?
Getting more funding to work on the app and expand will matter in the future.
What’s your difference?
I’m a poker player that understands and wants to further understand other poker players, so I can adequately satisfy their needs.
What do you need to do today, to make sure that you can keep doing the things you want to do tomorrow?
I want to connect with as many people or media outlets to increase my chances of a successful Kickstarter campaign and to get a backing for my app.
Also, I need to continue to test my app today, so we can upload it on the app store tomorrow at which time it will be reviewed by app store team and then uploaded to the public.