When Paris Buttfield-Addison and Jon Manning were completing their undergraduate studies in computing at UTAS, they spent many hours of each day based in Lab 376 at the Centenary Building, writing assignments and concocting ideas. They called the room ‘the Secret Lab’ and it was here that an idea to develop their own company was born.
The duo behind Secret Lab, a game and application development business based in Hobart, is enjoying the success of their enthusiasm and hard work.
They picked up three awards at the Tasmanian ICT Awards held last Friday. They won for excellence in digital media or e-marketing; success in exporting ICT solutions and were co-winners of the President’s award for excellence. The awards were presented to them by Premier David Bartlett at a dinner to recognise the achievements of Tasmanian ICT businesses.
“We didn’t expect to win. But we were really pleased to be recognised, and amazed that we received so many awards,” Paris said.
“Many people congratulated us, but we were really happy when we received an email from Dr Julian Dermoudy [Head of the School of Computing and Information Systems] congratulating us on our win.”
Secret Lab provides game and application development for Mac, PC, web, iPhone, iPad and Android. Paris and Jon have developed games and applications for clients around the world, including clients from the Silicon Valley in California, the heart of the game and application development scene.
Past projects include an iPhone application for the 2010/11 Taste of Tasmania Festival, two applications for iFit technologies, and a game for Movie Seals Production Inc based in Montreal. Secret Lab was also one of the first developers for the Apple Store.
“We started developing our idea for Secret Lab as the iPhone was being released and viable options were becoming available to develop applications for it. We decided to try our hands at it and base ourselves in Hobart,” Paris explained.
Paris and Jon also provide in-depth training and courses to clients and present at a number of conferences both nationally and internationally.
Paris and Jon’s most recent venture has been into writing books. Last week, their first book, iPhone and iPad game development for Dummies was published. The opportunity can about after a chance meeting with Author Neal Goldstein in San Francisco.
“We received a scholarship from Apple University Consortium a couple of years ago. As part of the scholarship, we were able to attend their conference in San Francisco. We met Neal who was on the look-out for someone to help put together a book on game and application development.”
“It was as simple as being enthusiastic to the right people at the right time.”
With the success of this book, Paris and Jon were asked to write a second book. Unity Mobile Game Development for Dummies will hit stores in 2011. Unity is a specific software package that is used to write 3D games for a variety of platforms.
According to Dr Julian Dermoudy, the School of Computing and Information Systems is extremely proud of what Paris and Jon have achieved.
“They are technically bright boys who are also gifted with entrepreneurial drive and great communication skills. We’ve been very fortunate to help shape their capabilities and it goes to show that being Tasmanian or working from Tasmania is no impediment to global success in ICT,” Dr Dermoudy said.
“For Secret lab to win three Tasmanian ICT Industry awards and be ‘an overnight success’ is a real testament to their hard work and imagination.”
So, with both Paris and Jon completing PhDs at UTAS, and the busy nature of running a successful business, where to next?
“We will be providing training in iPhone development in Hobart next week for the Australian Film, TV and Radio School and then we’ll be heading back to the Silicon Valley in California to work on a mobile application strategy.”
Paris and Jon are proof of what can be achieved when a great idea, initiative, enthusiasm and hard work come together.