Toronto Man Dreams Up App, Uses Tax Return Money to Get it Built

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Every once in a while we receive story pitches so bizarre that they end up being great stories.

We just received a pretty great email from a young guy in Toronto who works as a structural engineer at a very large food producer. A life-long lover of digital entrepreneurship (but admittedly more of a bystander than a player), Bruce Rebello came up with the idea for a new game for iOS and Android during a power nap at his day-job. He took all the money he received from his tax return and spent it on outsourcing the development to China. On May 7, Rebello’s 24th birthday, the free app launches in both the App Store and the Google Play store.

In the game the user plays as Rebello, lost in space, who must dodge various objects at different velocities in an effort to “Get Bruce Home“.

His story, both ordinary and unique, is what caught our eye.

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Rebello grew up outside of Bombay, India and is a Anglo-Indian, part of a group of people who have mixed Indian and British ancestry (“There’s not too many of us left,” he said). His first language is english, but he understands and speaks “horrible” Hindi. Along with his family, he moved to Toronto in 2006 at the age of 16 and only then did he get his first computer. 

“Most people without even knowing it were more advanced in computing than I could ever be. Yet, there was something that kept drawing me towards the digital world. I admired all the great digital entrepreneurs and their impact on the world,” he said. “But the more I learned about their lives it was clear that I would never be like them as they all grew up with computers.”

He stuck with it, completing his industrial engineering degree, trying to learn as much as possible on the side, and eventually he learned how to code small websites. “However, the dot com days were done and everyone transitioned over to apps.  I was behind once again. I knew I wanted in but by this time but I had already graduated university, had student debt and needed an inflow of cash to pay for my bills. So I got a job, still wanting to leave my mark on the digital world.”

Rebello compares himself to Nacho Libre, the main character in a 2006 American-Mexican comedy film starring Jack Black. Nacho desires to be a professional wrestler, but he’s terrible at it. Rebello said like Nacho, he’s just a ordinary guy chasing a goal. “But there’s one thing like Nacho that I ‘m really proud of, which is the refusal to let any sort of failure or hardship bring me down or make me loose sight of what I want from life.”

He said he planned tirelessly, brainstorming idea after idea without any luck for a couple of months. One day after a tiring day at work he took a nap, finding the inspiration for Get Bruce Home. “I was floating in space and all these funny objects were falling on me, with entertaining music, and for some reason all I wanted to do was get home.” 

He stayed up all night that night planning for the game: “Every detail of the game, from the sounds to the objects, to the main character and all the screens that the users would interact with,” he said. “It was like I had turned on a faucet in my brain and all the creative juices were falling onto the paper I had in front of me. I’m pretty sure if I did anything else, the faucet would turn off instantly. I knew exactly what the game would look like and how it would be played.”

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The development of Get Bruce Home is where it gets fun: he had no money and used his tax return money on a cheap developer from China who could do the job for $2,500. “My parents still don’t know that I spent my tax return on it. They’ll probably snap when they find out.”

Rebello admits it won’t be the most advanced mobile game a user will play, but they’ll have fun doing it. In the game, players need to dodge a list of hilarious characters while in space, including the golf course-bound Toronto Maple Leafs, Justin Trudeau (who’s promoting himself in space), members of the RCMP, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, and much much more.

Joseph Czikk

Joseph Czikk

Joseph Czikk previously has written for the National Post, Montreal Gazette, Vancouver Sun, Regina Leader Post, Techvibes and BC Business Online. Joseph often goes crazy on twitter during NHL and NFL games.