⏰ TAKE YOUR TIME ⏰ | LumoVlog 065


I think a lot of people jump ship from a corporate job, I did this, I did this really prematurely, and I can tell you… we got ourselves into some rough waters for a while. What I ended up doing… I had my first idea for a game. It was called Linkage, it was a card game. At this point, it’s purely a hobby. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I knew I wanted to design a game, so I started designing games, and I went through that process for many years. Designed… probably between 50 to 60 games, then finally had one where players were saying, “This is a good game, you should try to publish it.” I didn’t know how to publish it. So I looked for publishers, but I didn’t find any publishers who wanted a hard sciences – themed game, so I said, “Ok, I’ll try and do it myself.” So I went on Google, and started Googling, “How do you publish a game?” “How do you launch a Kickstarter campaign?” Because I heard Kickstarter was a good way. So here I am, learning to launch a Kickstarter campaign. So not only am I trying to design games as a hobby, I’m trying to publish games as a hobby. So you’re just getting into this, you don’t really know what you’re doing, but I’m here learning as you go. To publish my first game, we needed $3.5k, we ended up raising $12k. That was a success. So I thought, “Hey, I could do this again.” I kept making more games and more games, I find one that’s good, so I decide to publish that one on Kickstarter. Published that, and we raised $16k. Now, I know that I’ve got a viable product line here. So I think, if I quit my job, I can focus on developing these products. So I went home and talked to my wife, we’d just had a baby about 2 months before this. But we had some savings from when I was in the Army, and we had a nice house in St. Charles we could sell, we could use that money to fund the company. So, we did. We sold our house, we sold our nice car, we moved into a tiny 2 bedroom apartment in the city, and we put all of our savings into running this company. Well… I think it was really premature, because we weren’t really selling those games after Kickstarter. We’d sell maybe 10 here, maybe 50 to a distributor, or something like that, but it wasn’t enough to meet our monthly expenses, as a company or as a family. So what that meant was I needed to get the next product out there. Fast. To get that next Kickstarter campaign. We needed a financial hit. So I developed the next game, and we put it out much quicker than we should have, even though it wound up being ok because this was my full-time job. I was pretty scrappy, it was alright. We ended up raising a lot more money, mainly because we got covered in Gizmodo magazine, and that brought in around $30k in one day. Tons and tons of people showed up. But still, at this point, we didn’t really know how to manage money. My background is in science and engineering, and I’d done this as a hobby, I’d launched these Kickstarter campaigns as a hobby, so I don’t really know how to manage money. So we got ourselves into an interesting position, a difficult position, where we have a little bit of recurring revenue, but not enough to pay our bills, we’re burning through our savings, and we need the next Kickstarter campaign, to fund the money we spent previously, because any profits that we have made, we burned through with our expenses. So now, we need to get the next Kickstarter campaign out the door even quicker, and the next product developed even quicker, so that we don’t keep going under. This is a really bad cycle to get yourself into. If you have a Kickstarter campaign that fails, guess what? Your company goes under. And that, for sure, would have happened to us. If any one of our campaigns had failed, I don’t think we’d exist right now as a company. And even through that process, with all these succeeding Kickstarter campaigns, there were three times I had to take a personal loan for more than $30k. Just to fund the company, just to keep things going. And I don’t have another $30k to take a loan for, but what would happen is that you’d take the $30k loan, you’d have a big Kickstarter campaign, you’d pay off the loan, but now you’re artificially lower than what you had, because you’ve just paid the $30k loan from the previous money you spent. So the first think I would say is, try to grow your company and that product sustainably, for as long as you can while you still have a full-time income. If it’s a hobby and you love doing it, do it as long as you can until it’s time to quit. Now, if you’re already… If you’re already all-in, as a startup… I don’t know, that’s where we were at, maybe you’ve just got to bite the bullet, take the risk, and know that if one of these campaigns fails, or if the product you’re working on fails, or some marketing plan that you have fails, it could go under. And as an entrepreneur, that’s just the risk we take. And we almost thrive on that risk.