Why a start up is like playing Candy Crush

3 min read

Yes, I admit it. I’m one of the millions of people who play Candy Crush. In fact I’ve even branched out to playing Candy Crush Soda. I find it helpful when trying to clear my head between escaping from my laptop and going to pick the kids up from school.

Recently I’ve noticed many similarities between playing Candy Crush and launching a start-up business. Don’t believe me? I’ll prove it.

The innocent beginning

Creating a start up is fun. You have a product or service that you’re sure people want and you know it’s going to improve their lives in some way. Once you’ve got your business plan all set up and get all the design sorted (no small task) you go live. You get an instant reaction even if it is only from your friends. This is like a training level on Candy Crush. Everything you do gets a small reaction. It’s a fun challenge and you feel as if you’re making progress.

You start to feel the burn

Okay so the next ‘levels’ are harder and you’re not making as much progress as you hoped. You’re very aware that there are LOTS of levels and they get mostly get harder. There are some levels you feel you’ll never finish but if you keep trying with dogged determination you get there in the end.

“You try everything to speed up progress and to get ahead. Unfortunately you can’t tell if it was a particular strategy or simply luck when you finally complete the pesky level.”

You start to feel the fear

Working in a start up in not a normal ‘9 ’til 5′. It might have a certain kudos but it’s certainly not secure. What if your competitors are aceing those difficult levels while you’re just making steady progress? Many a Candy Crush addict have been demoralised by a chance glance at a fellow commuter’s phone screen to see they are hundreds of levels in front on them!

You start using different tactics

Strategies become the only way forward on that ‘hard level’ that you just can’t beat. Saving up special moves; trying to calculate more moves in advance. You try everything to speed up progress, to get ahead. Unfortunately you can’t tell if it was a particular strategy or simply luck when you finally complete the pesky level.

In start ups this is where growth hacking comes in. Fortunately, the results from most growth hacking tactics are trackable so you can see what your effort is earning you. However, when you notice the sudden explosive growth of a similar site you start to wonder whether you’re using the wrong tactics. Especially when you feel you’re running out of time – or is that lives?

Phoning a friend

The truth is that you’ve already irritated all your friends, most of your networking contacts and a fair few strangers by the time you’re a few weeks into your start up. However, in Candy Crush you can always ask for an extra life from a Facebook friend when you know you’re really close to completing that ‘impossible’ level.

Hopefully they won’t message back and say “You’re stuck on level 137? Oh, I found that really easy.”


The main goal for an online start up is organic growth. Everyone is hoping for the gold-plated ‘hockey stick’ curve on the graph. Whatever your speed of progress, you will need some funding and that reduces your share of the company you’re all working so hard to create.

Just as vexing is working out if you’re going to spend money on advertising.

Facebook, Twitter and Google all offer cost-effective advertising, but you need to test them to see if they work for your start up. Even worse, a lot of the jeopardy comes down to how you design and run your campaign.

In Candy Crush you can always buy extra lives or tools, but there’s nothing worse than using a special tool to complete a level just after noticing you could have completed the level without extra help after all!

Candy Crush is just a silly little game

This hasn’t stopped it becoming a massive revenue earner. You don’t get this success just because a game is quite fun and clever.

Candy Crush’s onboarding process is perfectly planned. People are drawn back to play. It encourages them to tell their friends and persuades many to pay to improve the playing experience. None of this happened by trying the same things again and again until they got lucky.

Riddle has been going some years now. Millions of people interact with riddles every month while thousands of people are using our quiz maker tools to massively extend the reach of their business message. Some of these people are big brands and publications, others are bloggers, writers and start ups.

You’ll find that your first successful piece of viral content gives you a similar experience to whacking together two ‘sprinkles’ after you’ve been doing nothing but matching three candies!

Give our quiz maker tools a go today. It’s free to use for 14 days – not credit card details needed. Creating viral content that incorporates lead generation tools might be just the thing to get you ahead of your competition.

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