When Petri Jarvilehto and I first founded Seriously, we recognized that building a mobile entertainment startup with dual headquarters in Los Angeles, California, and Helsinki, Finland, would have some amazing advantages, but would also present some challenges. We knew we wanted to combine the best creative talent from the world’s entertainment capital with the world’s mobile gaming capital to build our mobile-first entertainment brand, Best Fiends. We’ve put in the work and are constantly inspired to make this long-distance relationship work.
Earlier this month, we hosted almost the entire Helsinki office of 51 employees to our Los Angeles headquarters for “Best Fiends Bootcamp LA 2018,” a week of creative inspiration, team bonding, company town halls, and, of course, Disneyland, to see the power of great, long lasting, branded experiences. Even though many people based in LA have visited the Helsinki office, and vice versa, we couldn’t pass up the idea of getting the entire company together to access the creative landscape Los Angeles has to offer. We wanted to really delve into the small creative elements that together make a massive difference as we build out an intellectual property that can grow for decades.
During the planning stages, we knew the theme needed to be about the creative process and how all of the little details make a big difference. And as Petri and I saw the LA team’s excitement planning for the Helsinki team’s arrival, and our Helsinki team’s excitement for the long trip (and the break from the Finnish winter!), we knew the investment would be worth our while. The below highlights some of the most memorable events of the week.
Influencer Panel at Fullscreen: We were excited to share what the marketing team has been up to with a tour of Fullscreen, a global leader in branded entertainment, where we heard from YouTube influencers. We’ve established a reputation for our marketing being as creative as our product development, and were one of the first companies to go deep with influencers. Fullscreen treated us to a panel of influencers – James Butler, Andre Meadows, and Jack Douglass – to speak to the whole team about their creative process, best practices in creating videos for advertising partners, and building their own brand. We all got to see the creative work that goes on behind the scenes in building a channel and engaging a fan base.
Inspirational External Speakers: We recognize that creative people come from different backgrounds and have different perspectives, so we invited external speakers like Drew Struzan (acclaimed movie poster artist of films like Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Back to the Future), Maurice LaMarche (voice actor) and David Herman (voice actor), Heitor Pereira (composer of Despicable Me and Best Fiends) and J. Stewart Burns (writer and producer of The Simpsons) to speak to the entire company about their creative process. It was important for everyone to see the level of creative authenticity and effort that these industry icons have to invest to pave their own way in Hollywood. As Seriously looks to build Best Fiends out on different platforms, it was inspiring to us that such talented people outside of games were also keen to work alongside us in our quest to build out our world.
Inspiration for IP: Apart from the fact that Disneyland is a fun place for tourists to visit, we saw a trip to the Happiest Place on Earth as an opportunity to learn from one of the greatest creative minds of all time, Walt Disney, and the manifestation of his work in one place. We wanted the team to see how entire worlds could be built on amazing IPs, great stories, and experience the detailed creativity in each Land. As we were going through the park from Fantasyland to Adventureland, our teams saw how every detail works together – from the foliage to the gift shop decor to the signage on the rides. Disneyland exemplified brand extension at its finest, and provided inspiration to bring those details out even more in our work.
Team Bonding: We wanted to bring the entire company together like never before to spend time at work and play as an entire team. Petri and I wanted to show everyone that we’re invested in them, believe in their talent, and that they are appreciated. We gave the team ample time to enjoy Los Angeles with two free days to explore various areas of the city. The LA office organized a few trips to sights based on interest – LA Kings games, surfing lessons, and hikes into the Santa Monica mountains – to cater to different interests. This gave the team the ability to find connections in unforeseen ways.
With the team back in Helsinki and the dust settling in Los Angeles, to say this experience was worth it is an understatement. I know I had a creatively inspiring week, and my sense from conversations with the team, was that it was time well invested. We know that if we execute well, we have the potential to engage a significant global audience, especially as we look to build out the small creative elements in Best Fiends, and future properties too.
So will we make this an annual trip? Based on the success of this year, definitely! Lapland 2019 anyone?