CodeBase Stirling Tenant of the month interview
Ping Creates, our fun and amazing tenant, the award-winning full service studio specialising in design & development for websites, apps, animation & marketing solutions, is expanding!
We are excited to see them grow and thought we would feature them as our tenant of the month!
Tenant Interview with Jason Wagner, CEO of Ping Creates
Hi Jason, could you tell us about the story behind PING, about the work it does, and the kind of clients you work with?
PING is a ‘digitive’ company, a creative studio that brings client’s ideas to life on digital platforms such as websites, apps and interactive games. I founded PING in 2010 with a clear aim, to create award winning content and offer real opportunities to keep creative talent in Scotland.
Since then we have worked with some of Scotland’s leading brands including Belhaven, Historic Scotland, Caledonian MacBrayne and Burn Stewart Distillers. By creating innovative, fun and engaging content we have a strong award-winning reputation for digitive projects including: the first Facebook integrated animation (Chewits); the first personalised university app (Abertay University) and the first BBQ gamification (Food Standards Scotland).
Our client work often involves taking complex information and presenting it in an engaging and entertaining way for the user. There’s nothing better than seeing people play one of our games and learn something new in the process. It’s the reason “play” is part of our company ethos and emblazoned on our website. There is nothing better than learning from play!
Where does the name of your company come from?
It’s all about that moment of creative inspiration, that lightbulb moment when an idea crystallises in your mind, that “PING” moment I call it.
Tell us a bit about yourself as the founder of your company, what's your background?
I’m an animation graduate from Edinburgh College of Art and my creativity has always been intertwined with technology. I spent 12 years as a freelance animator working with the BBC, Channel 4 and Cartoon Network. As the world wide web started to grow my work evolved into interactive experiences created in Adobe Flash and I became recognised as one of Scotland’s leading digital creatives.
However, I hit a point where I couldn’t progress my freelance career even though I was overwhelmed with work. I could see two clear issues; a lack of creative control on projects and frustratingly, many of my fellow creatives were leaving Scotland. I wanted to build something that would fix these issues. That’s when I switched my brain from being a freelancer animator to an entrepreneur. It was a game changer and I never looked back.
What are some of the biggest challenges you're facing?
The biggest challenge I’m having right now is time. As the business grows, we inevitably get busier. And with that I need to hire more staff which takes more time; I have to find the right people, interview and then once hired make sure everything is in place so they can work effectively. That’s one job but at the same time I’m getting more clients, taking on interns, speaking at events and then there’s our other business Kettle of Fish which is currently looking for investment.
In all honesty it’s too much for one person which is why as a founder you must delegate as soon as you’re able. I was also guilty of taking on too much voluntary work last year, the business suffered, and that was a real learning curve. I absolutely love being involved locally, speaking at schools and universities to nurture new talent. But I had to rein that in this year and focus on building a sustainable business long term.
We’ve heard the great news that you’ve recently received a big contract and that you’re going to expand. Could you tell us more about it, and about the changes in your company this entails?
We are absolutely delighted to have secured our first oil and gas client. In short, it’s gamification of their induction training. We pitched an immersive online experience that will be available to all personnel being mobilised offshore.
The online experience includes games and will be complimented by videos from the team to further enhance the learning experience.
The games include an over of operations, a fully realised interactive map of the U.K. and all current client locations. If you’ve ever played a real time strategy game, you’ll get the idea as you can zoom in and interact with animated windfarms, oil rigs and office building.
We also have a 3D character creator where the user must correctly attire the character for work offshore. It’s a three-stage game starting onshore and getting ready to board the helicopter; to arrival offshore and donning the correct clothing for safe working.
Then there’s a fully immersive 3D helideck, where the user must look around and explore the environment to understand the correct routes to exit and enter the helideck platform.
And of course, all this will work seamlessly on desktop and mobile for an international audience.
This new client win means I’m now able to hire full time staff. I’ve already taken on Nick (one of our interns from Stirling University last year) as full-time employee and he is responsible for the development of the 3D games. My freelance team are involved as always including my lead designer Matt who I’ve known since art school.
But I need to hire more inhouse staff to help free up the time issue I mentioned above. I’m interviewing and looking for a front-end developer to help with all our current and future web projects. And I’m also looking at taking on a full-time marketing and communications team member so we can offer full service to all our PING clients.
Any secret projects for the future that you’d be willing to share with the awesome CodeBase team and the readers of the newsletter?
We have projects ongoing at PING that come under the “PLAY” section of our website. This includes taking our showcase game for Metafest, “Rescue Pods” to the App Store and Google Play. And in complete contrast to this, we’re developing our first virtual reality horror game that will terrify the hardiest of horror fans the world over… watch this space.