From Bungie to Bootstrapping. Starting an Independent Developer Max Hoberman, President/Founder Certain Affinity, Inc. March 25, 2009. Bootstrapping. bootstrapping [ büt stràpping ] Building a business out of very little or virtually nothing. My Background.
Starting an Independent Developer
Max Hoberman, President/Founder
Certain Affinity, Inc.
March 25, 2009
bootstrapping [ bütstràpping ] Building a business out of very little or virtually nothing.
Mid-90’s – tried to start a game company in college
Summer between college semesters
Me and one of my roommates
Invested $3,000 of my own savings
Paid ourselves hourly minimum wage
Arcade-style space combat game for the Mac
Lasted just a couple months
Created the shell interface, one 3D model, and a broken audio system
Decided I had to get a real job
“Create a hybrid Halo/WoW killer, sell it to the mafia, retire to a villa in the Swiss Alps.”Mission Statement
“Become an independent developer with a reputation for creating high quality games and original IP.”Mission Statement
Work in Progress
We’ve done a lot of things right, but…
We have not yet achieved financial independence!
Work for hire business model makes this difficult
We’ve learned the most lessons about team building and business relationships
Economy also poses challenges
Publishers are generally happy if you’re making 20% profit
Not all staff engaged
Downtime between projects
Sick leave, vacation and comp time
Development of own IP and pitch materials
Cost control. Just 10% of our total expenses are for operating costs.
Keeping it lean. Majority of our employees are development staff.
Dev support and IT
Benefits and HR consulting
Accounting and payroll
Real estate agent
What we’ve done well
Not everyone is fit for a startup
Don’t take shortcuts in hiring
Watch group dynamics
Know when to let go
Maintain high quality standards
Hire experienced developers
No communication barriers
What we’ve done well
Myth of long term relationships
The speed of business
Your own best representative
Follow through on commitments
Don’t waste other people’s money
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
Whew, security is sure hard work!
Challenges and opportunities
Please introduce yourself