Andrew Nadhir gestures from his desk chair to the view of downtown and the Chicago River outside his third-floor office at 211 W Wacker Drive.
“When I tell people my address, they say, ‘Holy s–t, how much do you pay?’” he laughs. A year ago, Nadhir was sitting on his couch, jobless and watching football, when the idea came to him for a mobile trivia app that could be played in real time with prizes.
Nadhir, who graduated with a degree in economics from Northwestern University in 2010 and had been working as a trader, had no programming knowledge or experience developing an app.
What he did have was a competitive streak (he wrestled in college, placing sixth in the country) and a game concept that did not yet exist on the market. He approached a programmer friend, who loved the idea, and together they enlisted a developer and a designer to found Purple Gator in March of 2014. Six months later, the company launched its first game, called Trivios, in which players compete for real prizes like a Playstation or iPod nano.
“We’re offering both entertainment and something to strive for,” he says. “There’s no other app like it.”
Players can download the game for free and choose from four different game modes, ranging from single player to worldwide tournaments. Extras, such as a “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”-style lifeline, can be paid for, and Nadhir says that the company monetizes roughly three percent of its players.
After initially spending several weeks at a coworking office for digital startups in River North, Purple Gator was one of the first businesses to move into Novel Coworking’s Wacker space.
“We couldn’t hear ourselves talk,” Nadhir says of his prior coworking experience. “It was a 50,000-square-foot room where you had to find a desk each morning. We weren’t getting a lot done.”
After looking at dozens of other coworking spaces, Nadhir chose Novel Coworking because he wanted a quiet, private office for his employees. The company has since moved into a larger space on the same floor.
“Our productivity has gone up 150 percent,” he says. “I don’t consider this to be a coworking office—and I mean that in a good way.”
Though he appreciates the privacy of Purple Gator’s new office, Nadhir says that he sometimes bounces ideas off of other startups on the floor.
“We face similar challenges, which is great when you need an outside opinion. Everyone is grinding away and has big goals,” he says.
The company is scaling quickly and plans to create more games in the coming year. In the meantime, Nadhir says, they’ve signed a new six month lease for their current office.
“As a young company, you don’t know what tomorrow’s going to look like,” he says. “None of us had ever created a massively scalable mobile game before, but we did it in six months. We’re learning as we go.”