Words of Wisdom: Business Time

Games. Serious Business.

On Thursday I wound up spending the majority of the day at two business events – the MassTLC new technologies “unconference” and a panel at MIT on different ways to fundraise and bootstrap in a tough economy. Here’s a quick summary of the interesting things that were discussed!

MassTLC new technology “unconference”

This meeting was a gathering of entrepreneurs, business people, angels/venture capitalists, and just about anyone involved in creating and bringing new technologies to market. I went to a talk on how to raise money from angel investors which went over basic but useful information (know what you’re asking for, get an introduction, have a good story, have experience, find a champion for your cause at the angel group, and give it plenty of time because it’ll take 6 months). Afterwards I attended a talk on standing out from the crowd and capitalizing on your competitive advantages, and I basically got the impression that we need to stand up on our soapbox more and put together a more compelling story for people who want to learn about us. The most fun part of the day, though, was meeting with other entrepreneurs and angels. It’s interesting how different the video game market (and most media markets) are different from other tech ventures – whereas in other ventures you need to show how you’re better than the competition since the customer will only buy one product, in the games market you need to be “good enough” since most consumers will buy from multiple competitors. Really cool stuff!

MIT VMS panel on fundraising/bootstrapping in touch economic times

This panel was a lot of fun since I was speaking on it. I’ll save you the boring bits I spoke about and tell you about some of the cool stories the other guys on the panel told. Ryan Damico from Webnotes spoke about how he got his family and friends to buy into his company by giving them convertible notes, and how they’ve been racing to get customers for their still nascent application. Waseem Daher from Ksplice managed to raise a lot of money through various competitions like the MIT 100K (he won) and even got a European scholarship for development of a Linux version of his product. He ended up moving in to an apartment with his other 3 co-founders to save capital, and by being extremely thrifty they’re going to be able to go to market without investor funding. Awesome! Finally Bryan Schmid of Atlas Devices spoke about getting government contracts and how manufacturing physical hardware changes the game, and what you need to watch out for. All of us then fielded questions for about an hour covering a huge range of start up questions, all the way from how much stock to give advisors and employees to how to hire good employees to how to raise money from your family.

Ok, so not super video-gamey, but I think this stuff is neat to learn about. Don’t worry, next week we can get back to talking about how much Final Fantasy XIII is gonna suck.