With a background in law and a passion for music, Marshall Seese, Jr. isn’t your typical social gaming entrepreneur. In fact, he is a bit of an industry outsider – a label he says fits most of the members of Mowgli, the startup he helped launch in 2010.
“I’m not a game designer by background,” said Seese, who serves as Mowgli’s founder and CEO. “I don’t think there’s a single person on my team that has deep Facebook social gaming experience. Yet we have managed to create a product that solves a problem inherent in all other social games: we give players the ability to create something they can take outside the game.”
Named after the protagonist in Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book,” Mowgli is based around a simple concept: connecting people through social creation. The startup’s inaugural product – Songster – will be the first social game dedicated to music creation on Facebook. Currently in private beta, the game allows players to create songs by building music with layers of instrument and vocal loops. Players can then download their completed musical creations as well as share it on Facebook.
In addition, Songster users will follow a storyline that features a fledgling musician working his or her way up the ranks of the music industry. As players progress through the game, they will unlock achievements ranging from playing larger venues to hiring a manager to signing record deals.
“We have a few hundred people playing the game right now and the feedback has been very positive,” said Seese, adding they will publicly launch Songster at the SXSW Interactive Accelerator competition on March 12-14. “The core of the game is that we, as people, are innately inclined to create things. Players can make really cool songs in this game, so there is a lot of sharing going on.”
The idea for Songster began in fall 2010, when Seese read an article detailing how FarmVille, a popular farming simulation social network game, had become a literal cash cow for creator Zynga. Then serving as Corporate Counsel for the North Highland Company, Seese began brainstorming ways to successfully combine music with social gaming. “I had a lightbulb moment and realized I wanted to build something that would enable anyone to create music and connect that way,” he said.
Shortly after that, he joined forces with co-founder Adam Kunz – a digital media specialist – and the rest is history. Now focused on product development, the nine-person startup recently got a financial boost courtesy of $550,000 in angel investments. Once Songster is available next month, the ATDC member company hopes to see significant consumer interest in the game.
“Ideally, I would love to see Songster become a top 5 Facebook game within the next year, drawing 40 million monthly users. I’d also like it to go viral and produce the next big music success,” said Seese. “Realistically, I’d be happy if Songster was a top 25 game, with five to six million active users.”
Interested in checking out Songster? Plug in user code MGS808 to play.