Second Thoughts On Second Life: ‘The Unofficial Guide to Building Your Business in the Second Life Virtual World’

May 19th, 2009  |  Published in Real Life in Second Life  |  8 Comments

By Compe Lockwood
Molaskey’s is one of the best pubs I’ve never seen. Or should I say, never seen in real life. But in Second Life, the cyber pub is the equivalent to the mythical Cheers bar – “You’ve got to go where everyone knows your name” – and this includes avatars.
This Second Life tavern is the pentacle flag ship of Sue Martin Mahar and husband Jay Mahar. They built it from nothing and want to show the rest of us how to build something meaningful from scratch.

The crowd outside of Molaskey's Pub in Second Life.
(The virtual crowd outside of Molaskey’s Pub in Second Life –

But this isn’t another ‘Get Rich in Second Life’ scheme: the Mahars practice what they preach in-world at their pub and out-world in their new book – The Unofficial Guide to Building Your Business in the Second Life Virtual World.
The duo offer no pie-in-the-skybox exaggerations of easy living on Linden Street but give advice based on experience in real and cyber commerce. “This is Molaskey’s,” Jay says, as we walk through the doors of a cyber Irish watering hole. It is only the beginning.
They take the pub concept to a higher level at Molaskey’s. There is a website, blog and calendar teeming with events. The pub features live bands, comedy shows, book readings and more.
Accompanying the industrious couple through their pub and expansive surroundings of shops, houses, and other features, I wonder “How do people do this?” Who has the time and expertise to develop pixel property big enough for its own zip code or a Fortune 500 company you can teleport to?  The answer is simple: before you raise chickens, hatch an egg.
“Start small,” said Jay. “Before beginning an SL business, immerse yourself in SL life; learn the culture and tools, script if you can do it.” They did.
“When we started Second Life, our goal was that this would be self-sustaining,” added Sue, “We would put none of our own money into it.” The Mahars worked SL small jobs, making a few lindens here and there – just enough for their first build. After that came rental units, followed by an art gallery, then a pub and now a real world book.
The Unofficial Guide to Building Your Business in the Second Life Virtual World, besides having a title long enough to be the first chapter, is just as it claims: a chronicle of which business practices worked for the Mahars and others. It is chock full of real world advice and ‘how to’ info. The book is for everyone, including Second Life pros and plastic-haired newbies – everyone can benefit.

The Unofficial Guide to Building Your Business in the Second Life Virtual World
“We wrote it for the person who has never heard of Second Life,” said Jay.  “But experienced users find it helpful too.”  So does the press. Their book has commanded 4 and 5 star ratings in and Barnes & Noble.
Jay started the in-world adventure in June 2006 as avatar Apple MacKay. A technical expert with little online experience, Jay became absorbed in the cyber frontier. Sue recalls, “I remember my husband saying about his virtual time consuming world, ‘This is the next big thing.’ I wanted to see for myself.” And thus her SL alter ego, Nasus Dumart, was born.
Sue vowed to find intelligent professionals. Unfortunately, Second Life was known as seedy (some say it still is). “There had to be more to Second Life then sex and gambling,” said the co-author. She sought intelligent life and found it.
“I discovered museums, art and live events; real people behind the avatars,” said Mrs. Mahar. “I was amazed that no one knew about this and saw tremendous potential.” The Mahars felt there was a market for above average income people (we know they can afford a computer – that’s how they are here). But like most good things, it’s not as easy as it looks.
Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes newbie entrepreneurs make is assuming virtual world commerce is self-running. “Wrong,” the emphatic pair said in unison. “Virtual business is interactive, not automated.” Jay added, “Whenever we leave the club for a few days and let it run ‘on it’s own,’ our visitor numbers decrease.” All successful businesses are hands on – be they brick and mortar or pixel and rezzed.
“I think to succeed in any business, SL or RL, you must be dedicated to be successful,” says Jay. “Ask yourself: Do I have the desire to spend the time in developing my business? People also need to know it takes more money than is typically realized.”
Sue and Jay are a good fit: Jay does design and building and Sue handles the social and media aspects. They will be at the Second Life Community Convention in San Francisco, August 13 – 16. He will be the event’s music track leader and she the music track chair.
Team Mahar knows and shows all aspects of Second Live business. When it comes to virtual commerce, they wrote the book – literally.


  1. swaffette Firefly says:

    May 19th, 2009at 11:12 am(#)

    Absolutely agree with all said – especially- ‘Before beginning an SL business, immerse yourself in SL life;’ i too started a business with the aim of it being self-sustaining and without putting my rl money in over 4 years ago. I never dreamt it would get this big or be this demanding! its just like rl businesses the more you put in the more you get out and its not easy, specially considering how much sl has changed , it takes a lot of effort to keep up but lots of fun and learning too ;)

  2. Mimi Juneau says:

    May 20th, 2009at 5:13 am(#)

    I agree, running a business in SL can be very demanding, but it gives me great satisfaction too :)
    Right swaffette?
    Last night, I found a very interesting blog too.
    Mimi Juneau

  3. Apple MacKay says:

    May 20th, 2009at 9:17 am(#)

    Thank you for accurately expressing our ideas from the interview. One correction though, I had enormous online experience, it was Sue that had almost none.
    As well, Here is the official SLurl to Molaskey’s Pub…

    and here is the link to the Pub’s website…

    Apple / Jay

  4. Mia Kitchensink says:

    May 20th, 2009at 6:01 pm(#)

    The book is great and tells of all sorts of success stories but it doesn’t stop there. When there is time, Apple and Nasus conduct a lecture series that features special guests from the book. At the lecture series the speakers graciously share their thoughts and answer
    questions from the audience.

  5. The Unofficial Guide to Building Your Business in the Second Life Virtual World | Second Life Blogger says:

    May 25th, 2009at 4:43 am(#)

    […] click here for article […]

  6. Kiwidude Klinger says:

    May 26th, 2009at 8:48 am(#)

    Congratulations Jay and Sue, you deserve every success!

    As a young avatar I used to hang out at Molaskeys and it was certainly an inspiration to building my own SL business. Their advice is absolutely right – spend time living in SL and getting used to the environment before you undertake a business venture.

    Many people come to me asking how I did what I did, and my answer is usually to council them to get the hang of Second Life first… once you have done that you will find your interests and passions in SL, and that will guide you as an entrepreneur.

    I was delighted to see this article and the book, and I wish Jay and Sue (and Apple and Nasus!) all the very best!

  7. Ari Blackthorne says:

    May 27th, 2009at 7:51 am(#)

    Email or IM me.
    I’ll send you a copy. ;)

  8. Apple MacKay says:

    May 27th, 2009at 4:34 pm(#)

    Although this isn’t the place, I wonder if you have read our book? I know the above link is just spamming this article to generate possible sales for the guide you have created, but without even reading our book I am surprised at your comment. Please take the time to understand what our book is about, take the time to read it and you too may possibly be in a better situation where you wont have to spam comments on blogs and websites to try and generate possible sales based on other peoples hard work!
    Just a thought.