At 25, dotcom multi-millionaire Antony Yip is sitting on a bed made of chopsticks in a dormitory with 10 others in Nanjing, enthusing about his new thing - mobile gaming. After selling his second company, second-tier mainland portal myrice.com in 2001 to Lycos Asia for a cool US$12 million, Mr Yip took a year off for holidays in Hawaii and Chile, and visits to Shanghai, Tokyo and Seoul in between, trying to work out what his next big venture would be. He hit on an idea in December, but waited, looking for the right partner. 'Having the right partner is really, really important. You've got to find someone you can trust,' said Mr Yip, not acknowledging rumours that he got his fingers burned when he founded Outblaze with partner Yat Siu. When his Singaporean entrepreneur friend Han Lian sold his wireless infrastructure company, Taipei-based Inphomatch Asia, to Hong Kong-listed company Hycomm Wireless, he knew he had found the perfect partner. 'We've been friends for a long, long time. I can not only trust Han absolutely, but he also kind of thinks like me,' he said. The two put their money, contacts and ideas together and founded Bbmf, a start-up that specialises in localising Japanese and South Korean games for the mainland market. The company is unlikely to run into funding problems soon. Its primary investor is Naoya Harano, chairman of Tokyo Stock Exchange-listed company, Atlus. Mr Harano, a well-known inventor-entrepreneur in Japan, invented the photo-sticker and karaoke booths found in nearly all game arcades in Hong Kong. 'I am more of a telecoms-wireless guy, whereas Antony is more of an internet-games guy. So we thought mobile games, which are getting big in China, would be really hot,' Mr Han said. 'There is a growing middle class in China, that's what makes China so sexy.' With thousands of start-ups in the mainland doing the same thing, they knew they had to do something radical to gain a market edge. 'Basically you have all the portals, like Sina, Sohu, Netease, doing mobile game development. Sina's the biggest. And there's also a lot of talent poaching. That's why we are in Nanjing,' Mr Han said. 'There are good universities in Nanjing and a ready supply of good-quality grads asking for just a third of the salary grads in Shanghai ask for.' And here is where the bunk beds made of chopsticks come in. The two founders knew they had to build a team of developers who would be prepared to slave away night and day to produce as many bug-free, quality games as possible. The operating style for start-ups these days is very different to the free-spending, dotcom boom years of the late 1990s. As far as company perks go, Bbmf's Nanjing engineers get accommodation and all meals prepared by an in-house cook. In dotcom times, start-ups would give employees stock options to motivate them to work hard for the company. But Mr Han wanted to give his staff a different kind of motivation, one that was linked to a strong sense of brotherhood and goes beyond money. 'We call it our Band of Brothers concept,' he said. 'Just like the HBO series. 'We showed them the video. We are a small band of brothers who have parachuted into Nanjing and are defending our territory. We've dug a trench in Nanjing, and we are holding our own.' Bbmf developers are housed in three apartments in a private condominium in Nanjing. Each apartment is more than 1,000 square feet, and accommodates 10 engineers. 'We try to give them as good a life as we possibly can. And we eat and sleep and work side-by-side with these guys,' Mr Han said. Bbmf has more than 200 mobile games in its portfolio, including adapted versions of popular South Korean dating game Love Plus and The Dark Ages, an action role-playing game in Japan. Two weeks ago, Bbmf signed an important distribution deal with Shenzhen Tencent Computer Systems (STCS), ranked the No?1 service provider on China Mobile's Monternet. The exclusive deal is a key link (as STCS operates wireless services in 31 regions in China) to China Mobile and China Unicom. Its instant messaging service client, QQ, is found on nearly every handset in the mainland. Under the deal, STCS will distribute localised Japanese and South Korean games only from Bbmf for about four years. It costs five yuan (HK$4.68) to download one game. The economics of wireless gaming is still unclear and technology standards are not yet in place. China is the world's largest mobile phone market, with more than 110 million users and growing, but finding market figures on the size of the wireless gaming industry is almost impossible. Matthew Bellows, publisher of US-based Wireless Gaming Review, said information on mobile gaming in China was sketchy. 'It's still in its early days, but everyone says it's big anyway,' said Mr Bellows, adding that early game development efforts would run into challenges. 'With Java and Brew both possible in China, what will the game world be like with hundreds of thousands of developers writing mobile phone games? Two words: creative, messy,' he said. Java2 Micro Edition or J2ME and Brew (Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless) are two popular software platforms on which games run on mobile handsets. Motorola, the leading handset maker in China, licenses both but had lately standardised on Java. Qualcomm's Brew technology was used by China Unicom to deliver over-the-air downloads to subscribers, so game developers had to port games to Brew, which is rarely used outside China and the United States. However, in July, China Unicom licensed J2ME technology from Motorola's 4th Pass, and said it planned to end exclusive use of Brew. The company is targeting 12- to 40-year-olds with their games, and hopes to make about US$1 million to $2 million a month in a year. While expectations are high, a healthy dose of realism exists. 'It's also about getting there at the right time and we think we are,' Mr Yip said.