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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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The BigDoor MiniBar

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If you are reading this on my website you’ll see a new bar popup at the bottom of your browser.  It’s the BigDoor MiniBar.  If you are a regular reader of Feld Thoughts, check in and join the community.

BigDoor MiniBar

We invested in BigDoor earlier this year as part of our Distribution theme.  BigDoor’s goal is to “gamify” any website.  They’ve built a very deep and rich set of functionality around game mechanics via a programmable API – things like checkins, points, badges, trophies, levels, and a virtual economy.  For an example of a deep integration, take a look at Devhub or the summary article on TechCrunch titled DevHub Now Turns Building A Website Into A Game.

Three months ago at a board dinner in Seattle we discussed the idea of creating a much lighter weight implementation – basically something that a publisher like me could implement on my site without having to write any code.  This lighter weight implementation, now called the MiniBar, actually uses the full BigDoor API but has a UX for configuration and implementation in front of it that makes it easy to set up BigDoor on your site within five minutes.

I’ve been an investor in a number of publisher-enabling businesses and have learned a lot over the past five or so years.  I learned the most from FeedBurner, which was one of the first publisher-enabling businesses I invested in.  They did a remarkable job of providing both a five minute implementation as well as a very deep programmatic API that allowed a publisher to control many aspects of the system. They encapsulated this in a brilliantly executed UX that made it easy to implement a variety of complex features with simple choices.  This UX also allowed FeedBurner to regularly roll out new features without impacting the old UX.

With the release of the MiniBar, BigDoor is taking a page from the FeedBurner playbook.  Now any web site, from a single blogger to a high end multi-site international media property or high volume ecommerce site can quickly (in under five minutes) implement a full game mechanic system, while preserving the ability to manipulate any aspect of it, either through the MiniBar UX (which will continue to evolve with every two week sprint) or the rich BigDoor game mechanic API.

The first MiniBar implementation includes Facebook Connect, an XP (experience point) system, a checkin system (throttled to allow checkins every 30 minutes), badges, a leaderboard, a daily deal (purchased with virtual currency – Feld Gelt – that you can earn or buy), and site sharing on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and via email.

You’ll see this evolve regularly.  BigDoor runs on a two-week sprint with a full release every two weeks.  I’ve seen the next version of the MiniBar due in mid-January – there’s much more UI configuration control along with several new features.

If you are a publisher or blogger and want to gamify your site, give the BigDoor MiniBar a try – I’d love to hear your feedback (and check in on your site).  And – if you want a direct connect with the company, just email me.

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