There is only one reason any company stays in business, and that is that they have money in the bank. No matter what you do or make, no matter how good or important it is, you run out of money and that’s the end.
Some days, I feel pretty good that we have beaten the odds for four years and are still here and growing, especially because all start-ups are caught in a vicious circle. They need money to develop good products but to get money from customers they need to develop good products. They need money to market their wares because if no one knows about them, they will go bankrupt with an inventory full of this really good stuff that no one ever heard of.
We’ve beaten the odds through crowd-funding, angel investors, our own savings and Small Business Innovation Research awards, all of which have enabled us to make the payroll and keep the lights on.
Sometimes, we have hired freelance artists, brought in more developers temporarily and made massive improvements in our games in a short period of time.
You can check out Fish Lake
Spirit Lake ( both run on Mac or Windows) to see the result.
I can certainly see how a company can go through a $3,000,000 round of investment in a year. We haven’t chosen to go that way, and I think it was the right choice.
Yes, we would have gotten our games completed faster but we would have wasted a lot of money in the process. First of all, there is no point in huge marketing dollars when you haven’t finished at least a decent product. Secondly, we would not have been able to get the information we have over the past few years on what works and doesn’t work on keeping kids’ attention. Finally, in my experience, when you have a lot of money, you end up with people who serve no real purpose but the company is big and you have money to spare so they get overlooked in all the chaos (that’s a whole other post).
Instead of throwing as much money as possible as fast as possible at projects, we’ve had to prioritize. That means that every time I am writing a post like this I wonder if the time would be better spent doing those updates I promised on our free mobile app, Making Camp or adding a timer to the maze in Aztech.
So, for us, it has been a constant back and forth along the circle. Sometimes, we spend more money and try to move these games out faster, spread our message further. Then, I look at the bank statements and realize we need to pull back until we can bring in more customers.
Running a start-up is fun and exciting. It also is a black hole for your time and can consume every waking moment. Outside of all the excitement are the boring details.
As mundane and cliche as it is, cash is still king.