– The following profile is an abbreviated version of Venture Capital Journal contributor Tom Stein’s piece for the the VCJ’s series on “Hot Prospects” within the venture capital industry. –
Phin Barnes’ first entrepreneurial endeavor did not exactly go according to plan.
In 2003, the former college basketball player co-founded ResponDesign, a developer of fitness games for consoles like the Xbox and Play Station 2. With its first game, Yourself!Fitness – which was based on Barnes’ concept of a “virtual personal trainer on a game console” – the company blazed trail for a whole new category of fitness games, including the wildly popular Wii Fit.
Barnes gained valuable experience as ResponDesign’s chief marketing officer, establishing marketing partnerships with a host of major companies, including Best Buy, McDonald’s, Microsoft, Nike, Proctor & Gamble and Sony, he says.
But by 2006, he had soured on the Portland, Ore.-based company after he and CEO Ted Spooner disagreed on direction. Jaded, Barnes left ResponDesign, which continues to operate as a private company. Today, Barnes wishes ResponDesign had raised venture capital, so he could have gotten the business advice he lacked at age 27.