iDream Interactive making impression on online video gaming industry

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Windsor Star/Dave Hall

Six years after opening a business in his basement, a Windsor entrepreneur has moved his staff into a historic building in the city’s core while creating applications for the online video gaming industry.

Jacob Duhaime, a graduate of St. Clair College and the University of Windsor, started iDream Interactive but has slowly been adding staff over the past six years. Now he’s moved into larger quarters downtown.

“For what we’re doing, for the people we’re doing it for and for the employees we hope to attract in the future, downtown was the logical location,” said Duhaime, who’s still in the process of picking carpet and wall colours for his new offices in the Security Building on Pelissier Street.

He launched the company in 2006 creating interactive educational video games for the Ministry of Education through an arrangement with the University of Windsor.

“From there, we moved to a Facebook platform for our games and decided to focus more on the social media side of the business rather than the mobile side,” said Duhaime.

His first commercial product, Monster Farm, met with enough success that it caught the attention of Facebook gaming leader Zynga.

But Duhaime turned down Zynga’s offer because it made him realize he was on the right track and he wanted control over his company’s future.

His company’s most recent creation is Slot Universe, which Duhaime describes as a combination of adventure game and slot-machine gambling.

“It’s initially free to play but in order to move up through the various levels, payments are required for slot tokens,” said Duhaime. “Mobile app games often have a short shelf life but we have to keep ours fresh and playable because it’s to our advantage to keep people playing.

“We make money by monetizing our user’s desire to keep moving up through the various levels,” said Duhaime.

Despite Duhaime being the founder/CEO of iDream Interactive, he’s quick to credit Anthony Garreffa, his first employee, Dave Wiper, Chris Marrin and Sid Santarossa for making the growth possible.

“My role has changed drastically from what I first envisioned,” said Duhaime. “Now I’m doing more of the business stuff and working on where we’re going next.

“I love it because I’m hands-on in the creation of games and I’m getting to work in the business and work with amazing people,” he said. “We’ve been on the scene internationally for a number of years and we’re just beginning to gain some attention locally.”

Duhaime said his company and Red Piston, which also makes gaming apps for a variety of international clients, are part of transforming Windsor from a city dominated by the automotive sector to a high-tech hub.

“Even though we make apps and they make apps, I don’t see them as competition,” said Duhaime of Red Piston. “But I do see them as a big part of the growth of high-tech businesses in Windsor.

“We’re not just automotive and we’re not just tool and die, we’re making games here,” he said.