Blending Art with Science: The Man and Methods Behind Fun-gi

Alfred Fung, Founder

From L to R: Jimmy Yun (Section Studios, CEO), Alfred Fung     (fun-gi, Founder), Cecil Kim (Section Studios, Chief Creative Officer),     and Justin Yun (Section Studios, Head of Production)

From L to R: Jimmy Yun (Section Studios, CEO), Alfred Fung (fun-gi, Founder), Cecil Kim (Section Studios, Chief Creative Officer), and Justin Yun (Section Studios, Head of Production)

Alfred Fung, founder of fun-gi, did not take a traditional route into app development—if app development is even old enough to have a traditional route, that is. After finishing his undergraduate degree at the University of California, Los Angeles, he decided to join the Peace Corps. Alfred was teaching in China and serving as a business counselor on a small island before fun-gi was even a remote idea. Driven by the urge to get his MBA, he returned to America in 2008 to enroll at University of Southern California. It was there that Alfred was put on the path towards the app industry. 

“I had a strong focus on information systems,” Alfred said,” like analytics and statistical modeling. At the time, MobileDeluxe was looking for someone familiar with video games to work in their marketing department. They were, and are, very data driven and it tied in perfectly to my studies.” 

Working in app monetization and acquisition, Alfred moved next to M&C Saatchi, where he created their games division. It was there that he met the client who would help bring fun-gi to life. In the summer of 2013, he took a sabbatical from work. During this time, he happened to run into that old client, and proceeded to meet up for drinks. 

“We got talking,” Alfred said, “and he mentioned a game design I had thought up years earlier concerning house flipping. He said he’d love to see a fleshed out idea, and ten days later I found myself sending my proposal to him. The next day we pitched it to his company.” 

Alfred’s main focus centered around one question: What if he could attach great IP to the title of his game right from the beginning? For him, it’s approaching app monetization from a gaming perspective while turning the licensing model on its head. 

The homepage for fun-gi.

The homepage for fun-gi.

As house flipping shows are some of the most popular shows currently on TV, he ran his idea past NBC universal for their approval, to which they expressed interest. Alfred said, “I built an app capitalizing on the fact that these shows are already tremendously popular, but I’m also enhancing the viewer’s experience. Now, they can watch the show but also live it for themselves through my game.” At the time of writing, he was looking at partnering with Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing and HGTV’s Property Brothers. The app is in the early stages of production.

Looking to the future, Alfred believes mobile and games are still in their early stages. “I use my phone to watch Netflix and Hulu Plus, play “Clash of Clans,” and sort through PDFs I’ve downloaded. The consumption of video on phones and the use of phablets is a natural progression from where we’re at now.” He notes that people, especially investors, are eager to be early adopters. However, the root of his perspective is that great content will always do well, and mobile is the prime platform. 

“In my mind, being in the mobile app industry is blending art with science and making a business out of it. How many other industries allow you to do that?” 

Alfred recently signed up as an individual member of the Application Developers Alliance in order to stay connected and learn about the app industry as he launches a startup.

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