Making Games
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CFD 435 – Making Games For Fun And Profit

Michael Mindes is the Founder and CEO of Tasty Minstrel Games (TMG) which is a multiple award-winning publisher of hobby board games. In this capacity, he grew TMG from a side business into a company approaching $2,000,000 in annual revenues, a team of 10 people, and all without any outside investment.

As of October 17th, 2016 – TMG has receiving $2,546,682 in funds from Backers on Kickstarter from 26 individual hobby board gaming projects.   

Podcast Highlights

  • Who is Michael Mindes?

Michael started off when he was four years old playing games like Candy Land and trying to figure out ways to make the game better. He graduated to chess as he got older and later on to Magic: the Gathering. In the early 2000’s, Michael discovered German style board games like Settlers of Catan. Essentially, Michael has been immersed in the world of games for the last three decades.

  • What made you decide that making games could be a business?

Michael originally decided to become a financial advisor after becoming a father instead of going into the games industry. The depressing nature of the financial industry eventually got to him, and his wife encouraged Michael to pursue his dream of making games of his own.

Michael began by identifying the things that he had to give up before starting his own business. He knew he couldn’t sacrifice time with his family or work, and so he had to tailor his life to make it work.

We are currently in an environment where the cost of business is extremely low. In order to be successful, you have to compete with people who are willing to work crazy number of hours. If you don’t have that passion, you will probably not be as successful as you hope.

  • How do you feel about the thought process of getting started?

If you can’t get over the six month speed month and it’s not really going anywhere, you may not be in the right space or you just may not be good enough. If you want to be in a specific industry, start in a place where you can work closely with someone who has done what you want to learn. Especially if you are young.

Don’t expect success overnight.

  • How does an entrepreneur deal with obstacles like upfront costs?

A lot of the obstacles that are out there as a way to make it okay that you are not putting forth the effort.

The technology to get people’s attention is essentially free. You can’t sell something until you have someone to sell it to. Getting eyes on what you are doing is how you learn if you are moving in the right direction.

  • How did crowdfunding come into your business?

Michael’s first watershed moment was when he was first starting out. He posted a picture of a pile of board games that he wanted to give away, and then asked people to sign up to his email list in order to sign up. He had 700 people sign up in 2 days.

Michael’s first kickstarter was the second. He was terrified of the implications of the kickstarter failing but it ended up succeeding and validating his ideas.

  • What was the growing process like?

Michael describes his business’s maturing process as moving a mountain. To move a mountain, you pick up one piece at a time and keep going.

  • What does the game making process look like?

TMG treats board games the same way that Simon and Schuster treats books. They take ideas that designers submit, separate the ones they think have potential and work together to develop them. From there it’s about coordinating with retailers, manufacturers, and shippers to figure out a solution that’s profitable for everyone involved.

The turnaround time for a project can be anywhere from two months to six months, and sometimes longer.

  • Michael’s Takeaway

You need to embrace the fact that the voice is coming from a place of love and then go out and do the thing you are thinking of anyway. Start by building an audience and figure out if it’s something you actually want to do. Don’t risk your ability to live the life you want.

Links:

playtmg.com

Martian Dice

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