The competitive mobile app markets along with the lack of business experience of mobile app startups has created many challenges for startups in their efforts to create a viable business through developing and publishing apps. In this study, we collected data from 20 international mobile game startups that were working on their first commercial game with the aim to develop a successful game as the first step toward a successful business. Through a classic grounded theory methodology, we developed a theoretical model. Our model depicts how startups work with three requirements of visibility, quality and user engagement toward success while enhancing each and every one of the requirements through online and offline social interactions with various members of the mobile ecosystem. Our study contributes to the existing literature on mobile app development and the interactions of startups with the platform owner, users, and their games artefact, particularly by highlighting how the startups leverage the social aspects of mobile app platforms for success. It also contributes to the knowledge on business creation in startups through explaining the fundamental factors that early-stage mobile game startups consider in their work on mobile platforms to create a successful business.