#OttawaInc: NextBigThing Studios

Feb 19, 2016

Date Company Founded: October 2014

Current number of employees: 3

What they do: Provide location-based mobile gaming

Imagine your entire life is a video game. You are being tracked by a GPS system and can be called on to battle at any moment. Now, imagine that your mobile device is your own personal defense tool with an entire army behind you at all times.

James Don-Carolis, CEO & Co-Founder

James Don-Carolis, CEO & Co-Founder

NextBigThing Studios created the first strategy game-Land of Heroes, where players can actively participate in the real world around them. This app doesn’t place you in front of a video game; instead, it lets you place the video game into your life. Their most interesting feature is the use of Google Maps to track opponents in real time. It’s time to look up because it’s a big world out there. NextBigThing Studios encourage you to play in it.

NextBigThing Studios have participated in three incubator programs including Hatch, Startup Garage, and Lead to Win. Their largest achievement to date was being awarded the Best Business Opportunity at Startup Garage this past summer. Since then they’ve launched a closed demo which, is now open to the public here. 

We spoke with CEO and Co-Founder, James Don-Carolis to better understand their revolutionary approach.

Can you explain the concept you developed?

The game uses location-based services and sensors on your mobile device to play against opponents. We wanted to create a video game experience that is played in real time in the real world. Our players can see where other players are located on the maps screen. This gives them the opportunity to approach each other, and when close enough, battle. We are currently launching the open beta release of our first game, Land of Heroes.

What was the light bulb moment that sparked the idea?

We initially realized how much technology has isolated people over the years. This includes interactions with social media and even in traditional video games. Gamers enjoy social games, hence why they are amongst the most popular. It didn’t make sense to us why the majority of people largely played social games in isolation. We wanted to change that, and that’s where our idea for Land of Heroes stemmed from.


What kind of problems do you help clients solve?

Our game is about creating genuine, enjoyable social interactions between people. We aim to offer clients an immersive gaming experience like no other. If two people were to have a spontaneous social interaction 20 years ago, it would mean physically run into each other in public. Today, a social interaction might be as simple as reading a tweet or text message. We want to bring back the personable feeling of communicating with someone and incorporate it into our games for our users.


Talk about some of the resources in Ottawa you’re using to grow and scale?NBTS Logo

As a start-up company, we’ve been very lucky to receive help from a number of different programs. We initially started at Carleton’s Hatch incubator, and then graduated to the University of Ottawa’s Startup Garage program. We were then accepted into Lead to Win, and we’ve been based out of Invest Ottawa ever since. Invest Ottawa has been an excellent resource and provided us with everything we’ve needed to succeed.

Why do you think Ottawa is a great place to grow a business?

Ottawa benefits from being a small city with big city resources. With so many opportunities to network, most businesses are familiar with each other. This makes connecting with professionals and potential clients effortless. We’re very fortunate that Ottawa offers several incubators for companies at all different stages.

How has working with Invest Ottawa helped your business?

Invest Ottawa has been great to us. We’ve been able to get feedback and resources that we wouldn’t be able to otherwise access. Employees really want to see the companies succeed and will do whatever it takes to help. In specific, the digital media team has helped us in many ways, including connecting us with other professionals in our sector. The innovation team has also been a great help to our company.

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