Fun Run hits top game in US app store
From NTNU to your mobile device
Dirtybit is one of Norway’s most promising mobile startups. It created the successful game “Fun Run” that has over 100 million worldwide downloads. According to the last annual report (2017), the company made NOK 28 million in revenue and profit before taxes of almost NOK 15.5 million. The equity share is 52 percent. Last year might’ve been even better.
Dirtybit was founded in 2011 by Erlend Børslid Haugsdal and Nicolaj Broby Petersen, students at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) with the purpose of making mobile games. Shortly thereafter, a schoolmate from NTNU, Martin Nybø Vagstad, joined. They started to develop games for iPhone and Android. The first game, “Drop the Box,” wasn’t a success. However, the team made enough money to buy the necessary licenses for the data programs they needed to develop a new game.
Motivated by the positive memories of playing Mario Kart together when they were kids, the founders set out to create a game that could generate that same feeling with the new generation, on the younger people’s platform—mobile. Most multiplayer games for mobile in the market at the time were turnkey based, so they started developing the game “Fun Run,” where people could have fun and play together remotely in real time.
After winning the Norwegian Game Awards, Dirtybit launched the game globally. A social media campaign urged gamers to tweet about #funrun on Twitter. The hashtag quickly trended around the world and went viral at schools in the United States. Once it attained the top spot in the U.S. app store, players all over the world started playing.
Haugsdal and Petersen believe the breakthrough in the United States came when school children in Texas started to play their game and it spread on social media. After a while, they had more downloads than YouTube, Snapchat, and Instagram. According to the founders, the important thing in gaming success is to make the top spot at the app store. Then, Google does the work promoting the game.
The startup was one of the first companies to have success with a real-time multiplayer mobile game. The Dirtybit team consists of 18 people. Maintaining a small group and sharing a belief in transparency, having fun, and a passion for games, they have become friends as well as co-workers. The Dirtybit mission is “to create memorable moments through mobile games that friends can play together—anywhere and anytime.”
Dirtybit was selected Norwegian Startup of the Year in 2014 and Norwegian Best Bootstrapped in 2015 by Nordic Startup Awards.
Haugsdal and Petersen expect growing smartphone sales to outperform sales of PCs, especially in countries like India and China. According to them, Dirtybit’s possibilities will only increase.
For May 17, they invited family and friends to watch as the “17. Mai toget” passed by the office in Strandgaten in the center of Bergen.
Visit the official Dirtybit website at www.dirtybit.com.
Rasmus Falck is a strong innovation and entrepreneurship advocate. The author of “What do the best do better” and “The board of directors as a resource in SME,” he received his master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently lives in Oslo, Norway.
This article originally appeared in the May 31, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.