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Turning Time Into Currency at Age 23 With his startup Kiip, Brian Wong is connecting consumers with brands by rewarding engagement.

By Katherine Duncan

This story appears in the September 2014 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

After skipping four grades in elementary and high school, graduating from college at 18, then landing a business-development position at news aggregator Digg, Brian Wong was on the fast track to success. But five months later, he found himself jobless--and trying to determine what to do next.

Inspiration struck while he was pacing the aisle during a flight. He noticed that everyone who was awake was either "pretending to work" or playing a smartphone game. "It hit me that this mobile game thing had become so popular so quickly, so I was challenging myself to figure out why they were so addictive," says Wong, 23. "I remember noticing that there were these achievements that people would be hitting, like leveling up or hitting a high score … but then what struck me was that in those moments of happiness people were actually not being appreciated but rather slapped in the face with a pretty terrible advertisement."

Achievement marketing: Brian Wong.
Achievement marketing: Brian Wong.
Photos © Jesse Dittmar

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