Launching a startup isn’t easy. It’s a challenging and sometimes daunting experience. Sure, you’ve got an idea and you’re working on plans to execute that idea. You’re also learning as you go, testing ideas and refining things, working incredible hours to try to achieve your goals. As you grow from idea to a new business, people start to expect more from you.
Of course it’s important to assemble a great team. As you grow you’ll need to find talented, passionate and enthusiastic individuals to join you and you’ll certainly have a lot of fun working together.
To create Little Space Heroes, we have worked very hard to find and get to know smart people who can help us in our journey. Most of the key Bubble Gum team (who are some of the smartest people we know!) have worked together for many years on different projects, Phil and Paul worked together at Disney for example. Phil, Ant and Martina helped lead the development of the Coinland virtual world. While Garth and Phil worked together on a Nintendo 64 project almost 10 years ago! And for the new team members joining BGI, we look for really smart, energetic people, who are equally as passionate, fit with the team’s culture, and we provide mentoring and coaching to help them grow. Importantly they also help us grow, with new and fresh ideas and input!
What’s important however is to recognise that there are lots of other smart people who can give you advice. It’s important for an indie games company – or any startup for that matter – to surround themselves with smart people.
Obviously investors have play a critical role in providing the initial support a startup needs to get started. But beyond this contribution, investors can be some of your greatest sources of ideas, feedback and advice. Investors come with different backgrounds and experiences. Many will have experienced the same or similar issues that you face in your startup. Even if the product or industry is different, the learnings can be transferrable.
Investors also tend to have large and well established networks. Quite often they can make a simple phone call or flick an email to help secure an important meeting that would otherwise take you weeks or months to arrange.
You can also learn a lot from other people who work in your games space. Here at Bubble Gum Interactive we’ve worked very hard to develop relationships with other games developers, publishers, games journalists and bloggers and also with educational institutions and university faculties that focus on games design. As passionate and focused participants in our industry we get lots of ideas, inspiration and friendly support from our peers. We also make sure that we offer to help them too – a good relationship goes two ways.
Another very important group to engage with regularly is your fans and customers. Be they beta testers, early adopters or your full customer base, you need to regularly reach out to your fans to let them know that you’re listening and you’re interested in what they have to say. We’ve involved kids and parents from our earliest days through focus groups and user testing. We’ve made sure that we’re always contactable by customers and we provide lots of ways for them to give us their feedback. We respond to every single piece of customer feedback we receive – this is very important. And boy is it great to hear ideas from our fans, kids have such awesome imaginations, and you’d be surprised at some of the feedback we receive, from game ideas to marketing! Take a look at some of the ideas and suggestions our fans have sent in:
- “Hi Little Space Heroes, I finally became a member! I’ve now got some cool Kritterz and have been exploring the whole galaxy! I really like the band game, you should have more songs!” Alice
- “You should make toys! And sell ‘em at target” Josh
- “It would be nice to be able to send gifts to friends in the game.” Kara
- “You guys should make cartoons cause that would be awesome and I would tell everyone I know!” Caleb
Lastly its family and friends who can help give you perspective from an outside point of view. They’re the ones that you – as a busy startup founder – may not have as much time for as you should. They’re almost always very patient and because they see how hard you’re working from a distance they can give you some very interesting feedback and perspectives. Sometimes in the rush of the hard work it can be tough to see the forest for the trees. Talking to friends and family can help you refocus and re-energise.
In summary, it’s one thing to be smart yourself and another to have a great team. But you need to work hard to surround yourself with smart people who believe in what you’re doing and who can give you great insights, advice, counsel and understanding.
Who are your advisors and listeners? How do you reach out to them and involve then in your work? It’s worth trying because great ideas, feedback or help can often be just around the corner…