Canadian Software Firm Red Piston Happy to be in Detroit

4/23/13Follow @XconomyDET

Developing a mobile game featuring flying penises might not sound like prestigious work, but for Red Piston it was a pretty big deal. The Windsor, ON-based software company with a new Detroit office created “Dave and Chuck the Freak’s Kick-Ass Game” for the notorious local radio hosts Dave Hunter and Charles Urquhart. It quickly went on to rack up thousands of downloads and five-star ratings.

“Their morning talk show is number one or two with males age 18 to 34,” explains Jakub Koter, Red Piston’s co-founder. “They have a million-plus listeners. Having access to all those people drove us to create the game.”

But … what’s with the penises? “They talk about them on the show all the time,” Koter says with a laugh. “When someone calls in, instead of saying, ‘hi,’ they say, ‘penis.’ ”

Red Piston was started by Koter, Andy Kale, and Ali Al-Aasam (pictured above)—three former BBDO employees who were laid off by the advertising giant after BBDO’s Windsor office closed its doors in 2009 in response to turbulence in the auto industry.

Red Piston makes mobile apps, games, and interactive web sites, and Koter says the company does a lot of work involving augmented reality. Lowe’s is a client, and last year Red Piston created an enhanced ad circular—hold a smart phone over an item on the page and product information pops up—that was mailed to every household in Canada.

Red Piston also does a lot of work with automakers, which is one reason Koter wanted to open an office in downtown Detroit, across the river from its Windsor headquarters. “Our office is in downtown Windsor,” he says. “We like that vibe—that’s why we like Detroit so much. There’s also a lot more opportunity in Detroit.”

Ultimately, Koter says Red Piston is a service-based company that will essentially create any kind of software or app the client needs. Red Piston also has an R&D lab, where Koter says employees pitch one another on side projects and try to match those projects up with existing clients.

Red Piston, which has 16 employees and is in the process of hiring someone local to run its Detroit office, just wrapped up a major augmented reality project for Mercedes-Benz and is working on another one for a “big toy company” that Koter declined to name. Business is booming, and Koter looks forward to bringing some of it to Detroit. “We’re excited about the Detroit office,” he adds. “We’re excited to be a part of Detroit’s growth.”

Sarah Schmid is the editor of Xconomy Detroit. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET

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