5 Things I Learned from a Start-up Accelerator

1. Don’t be a sole founder.

When I was a sole founder, at the very beginning of establishing 7 Generation Games, I thought this was unreasonable prejudice on the part of investors. Now I see that they are 100% right. I cannot imagine how we could possibly make games and be raising investor funds with one person. While Maria has meetings in Silicon Valley this week, Dennis and I are working with Gonzalo and Eric to finish Forgotten Trail. I’ll be flying to Utah early Monday morning to make it to an investor event, while Maria is meeting with our new administrative assistant who starts work that day.

2. Ruthlessly guard your time.

Your time is one resource you can never increase. Presumably, as a founder, you have a rare combination of skills. That’s why you are running this start-up instead of, say, a Subway franchise. Ask yourself constantly whether whatever you are doing will benefit your business. Next, ask if you are the only person in the company that can do it. Unless the answer to both questions is “Yes”, don’t do it.

3. Often, publicity is useless

We had a good presentation by Aaron Holland where he talked about ‘vanity metrics’. That is, no one cares about your number of website visits, twitter followers or any other social media metric unless you can show a connection with sales. Investors are interested in money and so should you be if you want to stay in business. People may follow their passion for a while, but eventually they have to pay rent. I’ve argued with people who wrongly said all publicity is good publicity. They failed to master the concept of target marketing in Marketing 101. You don’t send email advertising condoms to nuns.

4. Learn to love your numbers

How do you know what publicity is useless? I’m frequently asked to speak on podcasts related to judo, martial arts, etc.  Attending an educational event with 100 teachers is far more likely to result in a school license than podcasts or youtube videos that receive tens of thousands of downloads/ views. Yes, it is also more likely to result in sales of individual licenses, too.

5. Spend money wisely

I wrote previously about watching your cash, because you never know when you might need it in the future. On the other hand, the difference between a start-up and a small, lifestyle business is that you are expected to grow. You can’t grow without hiring sales people, administrative staff. The time will come when you cannot do all the things that need to be done. Investors are giving you money  to grow your business, not so you can have a safe cushion in the bank. Spend your money wisely, but spend it.

Speaking of all of this … why do I write this blog? Because we have found that the blogs that Maria and I write get a lot of traffic and DO result in game sales. See, I apply all five of those principles above. 

If you like these posts, think about checking out our games. You can buy one for yourself or donate one to a child or school.


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