When Tandon’s former student Miguel Guerrero was just 14 years old, he created a Minecraft server that was at one point considered the largest in the world. This was just the beginning of his entrepreneurial efforts; Guerrero later co-founded Otis AI, a company that creates marketing campaigns for small businesses.
Guerrero was always exposed to the world of entrepreneurship, as both sides of his family operated small businesses. Driven by his family’s efforts and his passion for Minecraft, Guerrero founded the MeepCraft Minecraft server, a virtual economy within the game. After graduating from the Tandon School of Engineering in 2019, Guerrero co-founded Otis AI. Since then, his work has earned him a place on Forbes 30 Under 30 List 2023 in the Marketing and Advertising category.
In an interview with WSN, Guerrero talked more about the creation of MeepCraft, how he took advantage of opportunities at NYU, and the impact of Otis AI.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
WSN: Could you tell us more about your journey creating MeepCraft?
Guerrero: Originally I started it because I loved playing Minecraft. I was just playing with my family and a few friends on a private server, and I started adding features to the server, things that are unique, like the economy, the city system, and a virtual store. It started to take off organically because we were posting on different forums and getting some organic traction. Eventually, after reaching a certain size, we set up a revenue stream for the servers so they could fund development, expansion, and infrastructure costs.
As revenue began to come in, Guerrero began investing in more advertising and marketing campaigns, which involved obtaining sponsorships on various server lists. Guerrero has also collaborated with influencers such as PrestonPlayz and MrWoofless, who have made gameplay videos on his Minecraft server.
WSN: What difficulties did you encounter when creating MeepCraft, and how did you maintain the server over an extended period of time?
Guerrero: The Minecraft server has been a big success and a very profitable and recurring revenue business, but I also made a lot of good mistakes because I was 14 when I started it. I had to learn a lot about how to manage infrastructure and make it scalable for users, but I also had to learn about business and interpersonal relationships by doing business with others. Most of the people I knew were people I met online, and that implies a different level of trust. Unfortunately, a few people I worked with turned out to be scammers, but I learned a lot from those decisions because when you experience failure, there are many more learning opportunities that can strengthen you in the future. next step in your journey. Now the server is still running, so it’s really a testament to the enduring nature of the Minecraft server and the strong community that MeepCraft has.
After the server’s success, Guerrero applied to Tandon as an integrated digital media specialist. At NYU, he created the mobile treatment app TABu, which allowed users to open and close bar tabs from their phones, with two other students at the university. The app was featured on the app show TV show Planet of the Apps. The only reason Guerrero and the other students behind the app didn’t follow through on the next round of funding was because they didn’t want to drop out of school to pursue their business.
WSN: How did your time at NYU shape your career?
Guerrero: Going to NYU was one of the best decisions I could have made because it truly expanded my world and opportunities. I also met people from all walks of life. The world opened up being part of an institution like NYU. Think about all the people who didn’t have that kind of experience or education and weren’t necessarily able to realize their potential because they didn’t have doors open for them. This is something that NYU really helped me with. Whatever the future holds, I will definitely attribute much of the success to NYU and my early entrepreneurial experiences.
Guerrero met Clarence Williams through a mentor while attending NYU Summer Launchpad in 2018, which TABu was a part of. Williams and Guerrero worked to bring Otis AI to life, and by the time Guerrero graduated, he had successfully received the first round of funding for the company.
WSN: How did the creation of Otis AI go and what was its impact?
Guerrero: Part of the reason we started Otis AI was because we wanted to take a lot of enterprise-level marketing strategies and make them simpler and accessible to small and medium-sized businesses. COVID-19 has catalyzed the transformation of small businesses, such that having an online presence has gone from nice-to-have to necessary in the digital age. The impact of Otis AI is helping businesses reach their potential today. Small businesses spend only a small portion of their revenue – around 2% of their gross revenue – on digital marketing.
In 2023, Otis AI was selected for the Google Black Founders Fund for Startupswhich awards up to $150,000 in cash and mentorship to top startups that have at least one Black founder on their team.
WSN: How have your past experiences brought you to where you are today?
Guerrero: My story and beginnings were, in many ways, non-traditional. I’ve accumulated a multitude of different experiences, complementary in one way or another, and they don’t all fit together, but it’s valuable. People shouldn’t be afraid to try new things. People should focus on investing in themselves, whether it’s having a decent lifestyle, investing in their education, or investing in their network and relationships, because the capital component human will determine their future career trajectory.
Contact Bruna Horvath and Jason Alpert-Wisnia at (email protected).