In an entrepreneurial space where there are literally thousands of competitors, you have to have something special to be successful. Today's interview with Patrick Chukwura highlights just the kind of attitude and savvy a young entrepreneur has to have if they want to make it in gaming or any other industry. Patrick, co-founder of Fine & Dandy Games, is a software developer, but at his core, as you'll read below, he is a true entrepreneur who can't imagine doing anything else.
Patrick shares some great insights and experiences in the following interview. Enjoy it, and share your thoughts and congratulations in the comments!
Your company is Fine & Dandy Games. Can you sum up what you do, for our readers who haven't heard of the company?
I'm the Co-Founder and Developer at Fine & Dandy Games. At Fine & Dandy we develop video games for multiple platforms such as the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Our first game title Goop was released early August after eight long months of development and launched as a top 50 game in it's category and has been receiving great marks from both game reviewers and the players of the game.
I don't think people realize exactly how competitive the gaming industry really is. The media has focused on so many story of developers getting rich 'overnight' that those stories overshadow the more common one of developers losing money to develop their games.
Small game developer shops such as Fine & Dandy have to compete with over 74,379 game titles in the App Store today with about 118 new games a day submitted to Apple for approval. Even knowing all of this, I love the challenge that comes with running a small game company. It drives me to participate in such a competitive market. Only a fool like myself would knowingly enter such a tough market, you MUST enjoy what you do and a challenge when entering such a competitive market, especially when competing against giants. I always have to remind myself that some time ago the giants of today used to be just like me.
Where did you get your entrepreneurial spirit? Are your parents entrepreneurial?
I've always been an entrepreneur for two simple reasons. I always want to be in control of my own income and I've always had a belief that the majority of people should work for themselves. I've never imagined myself being able to work for one company or even within one industry for many years with no change, it's not logical to me. I think it completely counters human's natural tendency to change and innovate.
The traditional "9 to 5" has always seemed a little inefficient to me. I don't think a "job" really gives people the flexibility to work on the projects they want to do even in a workplace.
My parents have not yet been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug. In fact, they don't understand why I refuse to complete school, get my degree, and get a "normal job" like everyone else. Ever since I was 12 I've wanted to start my own game company. I've started companies before and I enjoyed them, but I've finally started my game company and there is simply no turning back.
With regard to starting your current company, what would you do differently or what mistakes have you made?
The biggest mistake we made when starting Fine & Dandy was definitely operating in this artificial and absolutely unnecessary "stealth mode". I didn't want anyone to know that we were coming and definitely didn't want our ideas to be stolen. The truth is, the likelihood of our idea in the gaming industry being stolen was slim. At most, our idea only after some sort of large commercial successful would have had some silly copycat title releases like "Angry Goop" or " Goop Ninja", but it was not likely to be stolen.
We would have been better served by sharing our experiences with people who were possibly interested in what we were doing. We had the opportunity to get the word to the press in a more interesting and personal way by sharing our story during the process instead of sharing Goop with them as the final product.
Both consumers and the media are rarely interested in your product alone. They are more intrigued by the story behind the product. Luckily, we didn't completely keep people out of the loop and started giving sneak peaks and making people aware of Goop about one month ahead of time. The one thing I've learned is that the day to start marketing is the day you start working on the project.
What three pieces of advice do you have for young entrepreneurs interested in starting their first business?
Just get started. I can't emphasize enough the importance of just getting started. You can't finish a project if you don't start.
Figure out a way to start with the least amount of money as possible. Do you really need all those features, that big website, that huge marketing team, or all those employees to get started? Start with as little expenses and liability as possible so you can remain nimble. There is nothing like the burden of bills, loans, high wages, and tax liabilities to kill your entrepreneurial spirit.
Start talking about your project as soon as you can. You really want to gauge how well your project will do in the market. In order to do this, you have to share your idea. Sharing your idea will get people excited, spark new ideas, and may even shift your entire project into a new direction that could improve it. Let people know.
How do you personally define success?
I personally define success as actually getting a product or project that you believe in out there, in front of the eyes of the public. There is nothing like procrastination to stop a good idea from coming to life and just getting a finished product you believe in out there is a true success. How many times have people said "I had that same idea" when someone else makes it big with their idea?
Success to me is getting it done and out there. Nothing complex about it.