Fast-growing Adelaide games developer Imagination Entertainment is taking advantage of its distribution network through mass merchants in the United States to spin off a new export distribution business.
In the past decade, Imagination has become a global entertainment business with 136 staff, 2006 revenues of $50 million and projected sales in 2007 of more than $80 million.
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In the late 1990s, Imagination, a SmartCompany export award winner, became an industry leader in interactive television. Founder Shane Yeend first went to Los Angeles in 1998 with his board games to spruik. He had a cheap car “with no brakes” and a suitcase of belongings. He rented a cheap apartment and bought a $10 desk that he still sits at to this day.
Yeend says that with relationships with 85,000 retail outlets in North America including Wal-Mart, target, Kmart and Walgreens, and supply chain infrastructure, he has what it takes to give other Australian businesses a jump-start selling in the United States.
In the tradition of gaming, Imagination is launching the new business with a competition. “It’s Apprentice meets American Idol,” says Yeend.
For the past year, he has been trialing the idea by taking a few local businesses’ products to American contacts in Wal-Mart and Radio Shack. He has achieved some success for others, and the competition will allow him to select 12 entrepreneurs to help in the coming year.
The winners will do distribution deals with Imagination or the spin-off company Yeend is planning.