Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Casual Connect 2013: Start-up Survival Lessons for Indie Developers

by Kenny Huang, CEO, BlueBat Games
·         Summary: Be able to take on any role, take on projects to bring in cash, and remain persistent.
·         Wear lots of hats. You have to be an engineer, designer, producer, and even the janitor.
·         The first three people to hire are the CEO, CTO, and UX (someone who does art, UI, and usability testing).
·         Pick your evil dictator at the start because dictatorship moves things a lot faster.
·         Need to hire slow and fire fast. It’s important to build a really good team at the start.
·         Need to bring in cash. If you’re really passionate about something and you’re not making money, then it’s a hobby, not a business.
o    Do work-for-hire and take some contracts.
o    Pitch and get fundraising, though this is a full-time job in itself. It’s especially tough in the games industry since it’s a hit-driven industry. Investors aren’t looking for a good project, they’re looking for a good company. You need to instill confidence in your investory, which may mean building out your portfolio beforehand.
o    Get government grants or tax credits. There are less strings attached.
o    Crowdfund using Kickstarter or IndieGoGo, but make sure it is project-based, not company-based.
·         Learn financial statements, at least at the surface level.
·         Don’t trust the statement: ”If you build it, they will come.” Almost in all cases, they will not come. You need to budget for post-launch and marketing.
·         Use lean methodology. Build a MVP (minimal viable product), launch fast, test it, and iterate on it.
·         Get lucky. When all else fails, listen to the wife and ask what she thinks (assuming she’s the casual audience).
·         Remain persistent. BlueBat Games had 94 rejections before finally getting VC backing.
·         Further reading – Get Lucky (Miller & Becker), Lean Analytics (Croll & Yoskovitz), Made to Stick (Heath & Heath), Financial Intelligence for Entrepeneurs (Berman, Knight, Case).

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