BLACK RHINO IS BRINGING THE YUMMY CHINESE KUNG PAO CHICKEN TO TALLINN
Let us introduce you our next team – Black Rhino. This 3-person team comes from Shanghai, China and is one of the few teams where there are more girls (!!!) than guys. This is also one team that has visited Tallinn before because they were accepted to AppCampus programme last year and spent a month in Helsinki back then. Since it is so close, a ferry trip to Tallinn was a „must“. Black Rhino is actually the smallest team in this batch, most of the teams have several people working back home. “We believe that a very good product doesn´t necessarily require many people, but very brilliant and clear-minded heart,” says Gentlen Sun, one of the founders of Black Rhino.
Gentlen and Irene Shen met at their previous employer, a French software company where they were developing mobile solution product. After about 3 years, they felt that the work was nice, they got to travel a lot and everything was great, but it was now their time to move on, to do something different and pursue their own dream. By then, they had also realized that it would be easier to target the gaming scene rather than IT market, since there is less competition there. “In the normal industry it requires a lot of resources and money to build up your company, but for gaming, the market is smaller, it is easier to access the business and to publish something that people would notice,” says Gentlen.
Their third team member, Hazel Wang, is still studying at the university. Hazel and Irene were friends already before Black Rhino was born and when the new company was established, somebody who could draw and do the arts for their game was needed and Hazel suited perfectly. Since there were other students who were already practising their knowledge and had jobs, Hazel thought that this would be a great chance to start using what she has been studying. Fortunately, her teacher thought the same way and supported her travel to Estonia for the sake of a good experience. By the way, this is the first trip to Europe for Hazel, so 2 great experiences at the same time J
During AppCampus time, Black Rhino finished developing their first game – Kung Pao Chicken, the first social yummy game that has been launched on Windows Phone and iOs. The team got accepted to AppCampus because a great chance came to their way. They won a price at competition by Microsoft BizSpark and then was recommended for the AppCampus. And then the rhinos decided to apply for GameFounders and got accepted too! “The program is even better than we expected, especially mentor-wise” says Irene.
Talking about Black Rhino´s future plans, the team is eager to finish their second game Tank Crusher, even though they haven´t thrown away the idea to improve their first game either. After learning from the mentors in GameFounders, the plan is to change the monetization model of Kung Pao Chicken since they consider the concept of the game still cool and unique
Why the name Black Rhino? There is a very easy answer for that: an animal is easy to be remembered. “When you talk to people, there is more chance for them to remember your company´s name when it is related to an image that can be easily imagined,” says Irene. However, when they wanted to register the name as a trademark, “Rhino” was not strong enough. Now “black” stands for cool, steady and powerful.
Tallinn appears to be quite different from what Gentlen and Irene remembered from last year – less people, everything is more quiet and lonely, the city feels more dirty etc. But this is probably because of the winter season that is about to end. Let´s hope that after 3 months their opinions will change for better!
When thinking about their adventures in Tallinn, they say they have had some troubles with the Estonian street names and the stops for public transport. On their arrival they found very difficult to make the taxi driver understand where exactly they want to drive to. Also, Gentlen has gone off the bus in a wrong stop already twice, since Estonian language and the pronunciation is just so difficult to understand.
What they find very peculiar is that Estonian birds appear to be extremely fat. “In China the people would catch them and cook them if they were so fat! They just stop in front of us and don´t move anywhere. We always think that one day we should really try cooking them,” says Gentlen, laughing.
As the other teams, Black Rhino is sharing a flat and that means Gentlen, Irene and Hazel are pretty much 24 hours together all the time. “So far, so good,” says Gentlen and smirks a bit: “but we don´t know yet, maybe we will have our fights later on. Let´s talk about it again in 2 months”.
Just as in their cooking game, they say they always want to try cooking something new. Here in Estonia, where all the spices, sauces and other traditional ingredients from Chinese cuisine are difficult to get, is their chance for that. Hazel and Irene actually really miss Chinese food, whereas Gentlen says he likes the challenge in a foreign country, he likes to experiment with new things.
Black Rhino enjoys the fact that besides having the mentors giving advice and sharing their experience, also it is so inspirational to be around and work with other 6 game companies. In their opinion, most of the teams have more experience than they do, therefore it is great to discuss with them and share the knowledge: “Everybody is helpful and kind here and we learn a lot from others every day”.
Black Rhino (from the left): Hazel Wang, Gentlen Sun and Irene Shen