It all began with a team brainstorm session and tired thumbs.
While discussing product commercialization ideas around the conference table at an industrial design firm, one employee shared grievances about gaming-related hand discomfort.
“We wanted to design something ergonomic and lightweight that could ship directly to consumers,” said Ashish Mistry. “One of the designers happened to be a ‘gamer’ and mentioned that his thumbs would get tired while playing. As a result, we began to look into the development of a product that would let gamers play for longer durations with more comfort and added grip.”
Launched in 2009, KontrolFreek is now a leader in performance gaming gear, ranging from controller grips and shields to product editions honoring franchises like Halo, Gears of War and Call of Duty. Starting with the development of its first product – a simple plastic joystick attachment aimed at providing more precision and less fatigue – the ATDC member startup has been praised by the gaming community for offering up unique solutions to common woes. KontrolFreek’s patented products are based on ergonomics, ensuring improved accuracy, maneuverability and comfort for Xbox and PlayStation gamers of all levels and gaming genres.
“KontrolFreek was born out of industrial design and raised in e-commerce,” said Mistry, who serves as president & CEO. “We didn’t try to go very wide on our product range, but focused on building a really good customer base with what we had. We’ve kept the business lean and profitable and created a brand that consumers trust and enjoy.”
With more than 220,000 Facebook fans, 110,000 Twitter followers and a rapidly growing database of customers, Kontrolfreek’s future certainly seems bright. The company has seen revenue grow 50 to 60 percent per year despite limited investment and a small management team. Much of the company’s success, Mistry said, is due to fan engagement and innovative social media promotions.
To help develop and market new products, KontrolFreek has tapped into their massive customer base. The hundreds of thousands of members of “FreekNation” have weighed in with insight on what they like and dislike about prototypes, as well as what improvements should be made before going into final production. That type of crowd-sourced feedback and enthusiasm will continue to help the six-person startup move into their next phase of growth.
“We don’t have product in mass retail stores and that’s intentional. We believe the next generation of retail starts with e-tail,” said Mistry. “We will continue to build a direct relationship with our customer base and grow the product line as well as the revenue base. As well, the next generation of game consoles has just been introduced, so that will create even more opportunities for us in the years to come.”
KontrolFreek At a Glance
- Founded: 2008
- President & CEO: Ashish Mistry
- Headquarters: Atlanta, GA
- Specialty: Gaming Accessories
- Website: www.kontrolfreek.com
- Twitter: @KontrolFreek
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/kontrolfreek
- YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/kontrolfreek