Sana is the CEO and Founder of YetiZen, a cornerstone of the social mobile game community. YetiZen has two arms. The first is the YetiZen Innovation Lab, a 10,000 square feet games innovation space in the heart of San Francisco for the game industry and 150+ events for game developers yearly. This includes the San Francisco Game Developer’s Workshop series (SFGDW) which has 5000+ members making it the largest regularly meeting game developer event globally. The second is YetiZen Games Accelerator program, the only games focused accelerator program in existence. The accelerator has 150+ mentors, 300 angels and 9 VCs (like Tim Chang from Mayfield Fund and Baris Aksoy from Intel Capital) who are the leaders of the game space.
At YetiZen, Sana’s role is to help phenomenal entrepreneurs thrive by developing strong business, marketing, and fundraising strategies, and by building the professional network that would become instrumental in the success of accelerated companies. Want to meet Sana? Stop by a YetiZen event and watch out for a King wearing a crown. On more formal occasions she will have a cape on as well. You can also reach out to her via Twitter @SanaOnGames
Japheth Dillman began making games over 20 years ago, taking collegiate courses in programming at the wee tender age of 10 in order to learn to program his own games. You can blame the Atari 2600 he received for his sixth birthday for sparking and igniting the fire; he was hooked. Starting out on his Tandy 500 and Apple III he was making adventure games (using ASCII art) and MUDs (text based multi-user dungeon) games.
The grown-up version of Japheth is equal parts Producer, Game Designer, and Evangelist. He is a veteran to the game space, having worked as an Executive Producer and Lead Designer at numerous studios such as Digital Chocolate, Flying Wisdom Studios, BigPoint, Chugulu, Aftershock Innovations, and many others. Japheth has also guided many successful gaming platforms such as Kidlandia, Casualing, Gamify, Wild Pockets, and Flying Wisdom Studios’ COIN to name a few. A product visionary, Japheth drives feature roadmaps and game design in fast paced startups. Finding enormous success in mobile and social games, Japheth now has co-founded the YetiZen Game Accelerator program (www.YetiZen.com) as Chief Creative Officer, along with his business partner Sana Choudary, to help other startups find monumental success.
YetiZen ensures success through mentorship, team building, partnerships in the game space, and investment opportunities. YetiZen’s educational program for startups focuses on viral mechanics, monetization methods, gamification, analytics, distribution, business strategies, and game design. Japheth, considered a thought leader in the games space, is also a seasoned speaker at numerous game industry events. Through YetiZen he also leads and co-organizes the San Francisco Game Developer’s Workshops.
Outside of games, Japheth has established himself as a leader in the community by serving on the Executive Board of Directors for the Champaign-Urbana Jewish Federation, founding the Eastern Illinois University Computer Club, mentoring children through after-school programs, and volunteering as docent giving tours at local art museums.
Want to get to know him better?
Invite him over for a hookah.
Director of Games and Immersive Toys
Seth Crofton has been working in the game industry since 2004. He has developed both traditional card and board games for niche markets as well as mainstream markets. Seth has worked on Augmented reality games and transmedia products to support mobile games with toys and physical goods as well as MMO’s like World of Tanks. In 2011 Seth helped launch Bok Choy Boy the mobile game with interactive codes to promote the mobile game in the vending machine toys. Over an additional 2 million units have sold as well as almost half a million downloads of the game. Currently as YetiZen’s Director of Games and Immersive Toys. Seth is doing the same work for startups like Road Rebel, Camp Skookum, and Leviathans (a game formed from Catalyst game labs and a partnership with Lance Priebe’s new video game studio).
Distribution & Monetization Advisor
Matt’s background consists of over 10 years of experience in the mobile apps, games and marketing. He has served in senior management positions for American Greetings, THQ and W3i along with supporting multiple successful startups which he founded or co-founded. His background includes media acquisitions, mobile marketing and monetization strategies, product management and business development with partners spanning NFL to Disney. Matt currently leads the US division of Taptica.
Matt mentors YetiZen accelerator companies on distribution and monetization strategies and modeling.
VP of Business Development
Darren Markovitz has a rich history monetizing social games, founding one of the first ad networks on Facebook and pioneering two social game companies. He directed social media for traffic marketplace and handled strategic partnerships for the social division of the Epic Media Group. Darren has a history of helping companies grow revenue with creative monetization solutions, bringing brand budgets to social games. Darren has advised multiple companies on revenue strategies, acquisitions, and corporate recruitment dramatically increasing the market valuation of each company he has worked with. Darren is committed to leveraging the power of the YetiZen developer network comprised of more than 5,000 developers, to create significant opportunities for the group’s members.
Staff & Event Manager
Gordon Lai has a strong background in technology and gaming, having worked with and exposed to countless tech and game startups. Due to his heritage and environment, he is immersed with both knowledge of the East and West. Exposed to the technological advances in the West and connected with the rapid growth in the East, he developed a huge craving for knowledge at a young age.
To satisfy his hunger for knowledge in the tech and gaming realm, YetiZen was the answer. He is currently the Staff & Event Manager, the Stealth Ninja for YetiZen, organizing and coordinating the company’s events and running evil (but fun) operations within the gaming space!
If you’re a gaming startup or large company looking to innovate with fantastic developers, connect with Gordon! He will know best where to direct you!
Social Media Advisor
Bud beat Nintendo’s original Zelda when he was just 3 years old. Then went on to win money and prizes playing: D&D Miniatures, Dreamblade, Magic the Gathering and The Spoils. He’s just returned from Vietnam where he helped manage Wulven Studios as their Lead Game Designer. He was responsible for creating internal projects, game design documents and communicating with clients to help them succeed in the post-freemium app market.
I’m excited to be a part of YetiZen. The speakers I’ve seen here have been really great. I spent a lot of time analyzing free to play when it first came out and realized it was a very hard to beat user acquisition strategy. So I’m really excited to see what works now that the top 200 grossing apps are mostly F2P! I’ll be on the lookout for all kinds of Game Design tidbits including building marketable features. I’m all about making great games, but they also need to be built in a way that they can get users and monetize them. So join me as I highlight some of the best questions and moments for you.