SL entrepreneur Profile: Zaplock Riggles, “Customer service is more than words on paper.”

May 28th, 2008  |  Published in SL Entrepreneur Magazine, SL Entrepreneur Profiles  |  3 Comments

By Sigimund Leominster, News Editor

If ever proof were needed that Second Life entrepreneurs can achieve a measure of success in a relatively short amount of time, Zaplock Riggles is a case study to consider. After less than 2 months in the Metaverse, Zaplock has researched, tested, and now sold no fewer than two products. One is a club-orientated trivia game called Mob Mentality, and the second is a sophisticated tipping system called Tip Master. In a recent interview, I started by asking him how he got involved with Second Life.

Second Life Entrepreneur Zaplock Riggles

“My daughter showed it to me and I was intrigued. Then I realized you could code and I just had to take a look as I am a programmer at heart. It’s a little like an extension of my RL. I am a programmer in RL, so I’m like a bus driver who goes on a drive at weekends. LOL! But this is more fun than the programming I do.” I asked if the scripting aspect of SL is what appeals to him.

“I am not particularly artistic so I am very impressed with many of the creations I see, especially some of the well done themed clubs. Scripting comes easily to me, but drawing a straight line doesn’t. My daughter actually did design a couple of the tip jars included in Tip Master and she gives me feedback on how things look and work. So I use her as a guinea pig. Plus, I spend a lot of time visiting clubs, as they’re my market. And I let her know about the ones I think she’ll like.”

The Mob Mentality
“But my first crack at a real creation was a game called Mob Mentality. It’s a sort of trivia game, but instead of right or wrong answers, you pick an answer that you think most others will pick. It’s kind of a cross between Family Feud(R) and Trivial Pursuit(R). It’s a pretty cool concept and I got it working very well, and then tried to show it to people. But I wasn’t getting a lot of responses – people liked the concept but it wasn’t wowing them. So, I made the questions all of a sensual nature, and viola – mob mentality XXX was born! It’s running in over 60 clubs now.”

How do you handle the initial sales?

“My marketing for Mob Mentality XXX is unusual. I give it away and only take a percentage of fees collected if clubs run it for a fee. This means I get a lot of people requesting a copy and at the clubs where it does well, we – me and the club owner – both make money. It’s gotten to the point now where I hand out – or sell for free via SL Exchange – three to four per day. It’s a unique marketing strategy in that in lieu of having users pay up front, I just get a piece of what the game makes. Clubs have nothing to lose by putting it up and some do run it for free; but these still help me with the free advertising.

“I shopped Mob Mentality around, giving demo after demo. I think I gave about 70 demos and got 65 clubs to take it. It’s the kind of product you really need to see demoed to understand it. Since I was just starting out, I didn’t have an advertising budget, but luckily it’s been so well received that I don’t need to go door to door anymore. People ask me for a copy after they have played it in a club, and the instructions have my contact info on it. Club owners see it as a way to make money in a unique way, especially now that gambling is illegal. A game of pure skill like Mob Mentality is really the only option for a club to earn money like they used to. Sploders are overdone and not really that entertaining, but even people who don’t win a game of Mob Mentality have a blast just playing. People don’t have a lot of fun things to do in a club except dance and chat – so Mob Mentality adds a third element. Oh, and I designed it to use a game HUD so they can play while dancing and chatting anywhere in the club, which means it ADDS to the environment, not detracts from it.”

The Tipping Point
“Selling and promoting this meant that I spent a ton of time visiting clubs, talking one-on-one with owners, giving demos, and over time I noticed how the tip jars seemed to be a source of frustration and very limiting. I come from a business programming background where programs are business enhancement tools and to me, the current tip jar systems were barely adequate. Hence the seed for Tip Master was planted.”

I quizzed him about what he felt were the limitations of the tipping system.

“From what I could tell, tip income is a major – if not the biggest – revenue stream for most clubs, and I felt that clubs would be very interested in switching to a system that not only did the job but also allowed them to see an increase in tip revenue along the way. I also noted that staff management was a big deal for club owners and managers. So the tracking element built into Tip Master allows clubs to really see what’s happening at the tip income level. They can use that information to spot their big clients, their well-performing employees, and spot employees who might need additional help.

“While I was at it, I made the tipping system a bit more interesting for customers. When they make a high tip, they see their name and picture on the Tip Master high tipper board; much like a bar in real life ringing a bell when someone tips well. To top it off, I added the VIP Board so clubs could show their appreciation for their big customers. The net effect is a system that customers like for the appreciation they are shown, that owners like for the tip tracking and increase in tip revenues, and that employees like for the simplicity of use. The employees are a direct beneficiary of increased tips as well as the club owners, and in fact, they are often as big a fan of the system as club management!

“The VIP system built into Tip Master accumulates a customer’s tips over time, so in customers showing loyalty to your club, they move up in ranking on the VIP board. This gives customers an incentive to stick with their favorite clubs and not club hop as much, which is another strong point in the club revenue concept – keeping your valued customers around AND showing them you appreciate their business.

“The next thing I made sure of is that the system is very easy to set up and administer; club owners are busy enough without having to worry about tip jars that require logging out or having to update a staff board. So it’s all configured with a single notecard and things like auto-logout tip jars and auto updating staff.”

I was curious about his pricing strategy.

“I tried to price it in a way that makes sense. It’s L$1800, which is on the high side, but that comes with 12 different tip jars, the High Tipper Board, the VIP board, and the Staff Board. All are fully copyable, plus I include copyable tip jar scripts so they can pop the script into any object of their choosing to make it a networked tip jar. The combination of everything is a good deal for L$1800 – at least I think so based on SL Exchange prices I see – and not having to pay for additional tip jar packs or buy the scripts separately is a huge benefit. I spent a good deal of time looking at pretty much all the tip jars/systems out there. I didn’t want to under or over-price and I also wanted to make sure I had all the features people might need. An example of this can be seen in that, originally, I didn’t have a split available for a manager on duty, but I found that this was actually a good feature that the club owners in my focus group really wanted. So I evolved the product based on club owner input. I think that’s critical for any product’s success – listen to your customers.”

The Marketing Problem
“My challenge is getting the word out. That’s hard to do in SL as there’s no single high traffic point that everyone walks by on the way to work. Figuring out advertising strategies is challenging. I’m trying to go the SL Exchange route and use face-to-face marketing first, along with using the web blogs and newspapers. I think this is probably a better first step. If that goes well, a storefront might make sense.

“I tried contacting some of the big name club stores to see if they wanted to work something out to allow me to sell my product via their stores. Interestingly enough, I didn’t get a single reply, not even a ‘no thank you.’ So I crossed that concept off my list.”

Second Life Entrepreneur Zaplock Riggles

So what’s next after the Tip Master?

“I have a couple of ideas. First, I would love to find some folks out there who would want to work out an arrangement where I refer club owners to them to buy what I call ‘empty’ tip jars – cool ones that float or have neat affects, but no scripting since Tip Master comes with copyable jar scripts. My customers could go to ‘Tip Jarmart’ and shop for different styles of jars to use with the Tip Master scripts. I would work out some sort of commission deal with a jar maker.

“Another thing I’m working on is a contest board addition for Tip Master. As people tip, the owner can set a percentage of tips to go into the contest pool, much like contest boards work now, but more integrated. So as people tip well, the contest board automatically increases the prizes. I would sell this as an optional add-on. Then, who knows?

“But it’s definitely going to be something that targets club owners. I have invested a lot of time and lindens to get my products out there to that niche market, and the reputation I am developing is within that circle of SL users. It’s much easier to sell a product to an existing customer then go into a whole new market

I asked “Do you aim to make Real Life or Second Life money?”

“Well,” Zaplock replied, “every good piece of advice I’ve heard has told me not to think that way. However, it’s definitely a long term plan. Right now, the profits from Mob Mentality have gone to fund SL Exchange ads and a full page ad in the Metaverse Messenger. I have invested zero real life money so far and intend to try and keep it that way.”

Finally, I asked Zaplock for his three top tips for entrepreneurs in Second Life.

“First, don’t do it if you’re not going to love doing it 40 hours a week.”

“Second, do it very well. There are a lot of very bright creative people in SL. You need to be at the top of your game to compete.”

“Third, customer service is more than words on paper. You need to really be there for your customers and don’t be afraid to take some lumps. They are telling you like it is. Listen to them and use the information to constantly improve your products.”

Key Points
• Be prepared to spend significant amounts of time, RL and SL, to produce and market your product.
• Be prepared to compete.
• For your product to succeed, listen to your customers.
• Focus on your niche market and extend your products within it.
• Pound the sims; go door-to-door to promote you product.
• Work on a marketing strategy; there are no sure-fire catch-all answers.

More Information
Tip Master @ OnRez:
Tip Master @ SL Exchange:
Web site:


  1. Chris says:

    May 28th, 2008at 4:53 pm(#)

    It’s very nice to see an article about Zaplok Riggles, When I first opend my store I had a Mob Mentality and it was very fun to use and the customers loved it. I offered camping so it also gave them something to do. My store is no longer running but perhaps I’ll be back one day. Anyway, I’ve since seen and expierenced the Tip Master system. I even lasted on the board a couple days! it didn’t take long for me to get bumped off ;).. Recently, I went to his store and he has another amazing product!! It’s a place where you can build your own dances and even share them with other people! Zaplok has always been very helpful and his products are amazing.. I can’t wait to see what you come out with next!

  2. admin says:

    May 29th, 2008at 6:45 am(#)

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks so much for the great feedback, I really appreciate it. It’s great to hear that SLENTRE.COM’s content is valuable to our readers. Keep the comments coming, Avarie Parker

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    December 1st, 2008at 1:42 pm(#)

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