5 min read

EGD News #140 — How I help founders

EGD News #140 — How I help founders

Sent on June 24th, 2022.

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This is a follow-up piece for “Put your investors to work.” There I talked about the investor update and how founders should utilize their investors.

It’s been great to see so many founders pick up the updated investor update format, and I’ve seen many more companies I’m involved with start sending out these monthly updates.

My message for investors:

The one thing I’d want to focus on now is being transparent and upfront about how you, as an investor, will help the companies you invest in. Being a passive investor, meaning that you invest cash, but don’t get involved, is fine, but it’s good to be very clear and upfront about how you plan to help.

My message for founders:

You might think that you’ll be happy to have the money and the brand name VC invest. But you should be getting a lot more.

When you are courting investors for your round, ask them how they prefer to help the companies they get involved in:

  • Are they passive, active, or proactive?
  • Do they like to have regular, scheduled catch-up meetings?
  • Do they like to be pulled in when there’s something that the founder needs?
  • Do they spend equal time with the companies they’ve invested in? Here, you’d want to dig into the reasons for their time allocation in companies and why it depends.

To make sure they deliver, ask the founders of companies who they’ve invested in, if they deliver on what they say. And even better, as my friend Adam said:

Find companies that didn’t go great and talk to those founders. They’re not usually the ones featured on websites.

Being explicit about where investor helps

Here’s how I’m thinking about the help that I can provide.

These are areas where my help has been helpful in the past, and I want to be clear about it.

Joakim helps in these areas:

Hiring. Since I’ve been in gaming for almost twenty years, I have quite an extensive network of people (10,000+ connections on LinkedIn). I can source a bunch of people you can meet and interview. I can also reach out to certain people, talk to them and get a read on how well they’d fit the role you are looking to fill.

Product feedback. I love to play early builds and talk about what I’m experiencing as I play the game. I’ve written a separate post about the topic. From playing the builds and giving feedback, I also feel I’m helpful when considering the company’s product strategy. What are the problems in casual games on mobile right now? Is web3 going to turn into a good place for RPG games? Should we focus on building for a casual, mid-core, or hardcore audience?

Fundraising. I’ve raised several VC rounds for my startups, Ironstar Helsinki and Next Games. Now, I’m an angel investor in almost 30 different games companies and have spent time in countless negotiations. I feel that I have a good feeling about how investors read decks, so I spend a lot of time looking at pitch decks and giving feedback to founders before they go out to pitch. I do introductions, help with negotiating terms, and try to increase the odds of the founders I work with being able to raise another round.

Problems. I like to spend time on issues that could turn into big ones. The approach can be troubleshooting and figuring out an answer to a challenging question. Some examples: Should the company pivot? I’m having problems with my co-founder; what should we do? I feel like I have burnout coming; what should I do?

I’m not skillful at B2B, eSports, performance marketing, SaaS, or backend-as-a-service. I’ve spent twenty years working in game studios, so that’s where I can be the most helpful.

(Photo by Johannes Plenio)

Get my book, “Long Term Game: How to build a video games company” from Amazon. Available on Kindle, audiobook and paperback. Check it out!

Halli Bjornsson — Industry life cycles in gaming

In this week’s podcast episode, I’m talking with Halli Thor Bjornsson, who is the CEO of Lockwood Publishing, a games company based out of England.

In this discussion with Halli, we talk about the industry life cycles in gaming, how console and PC transitioning to mobile is very similar to now as many folks are moving to web3, and we spend some time talking about our experiences as entrepreneurs.

Listen to the full episode by going here.

Some useful templates from EGD

Articles worth reading

Leading Teams As A Stoic — “As leaders, we tend to believe that we are responsible for every action and have control over its outcomes. The reality is that we have very little control over what’s going on around us. It takes wisdom to know the difference between exactly what we have control over, and what we don’t.”

Too Big To Think — “In the late 1960s the founder of Boston Consulting Group, Bruce Henderson, divided his company into three color-coded teams: red, blue, and green. These teams were instructed to compete against each other. He hoped that the experiment would generate new ideas for how to run a consulting firm.”

How supporting core loops and early prototyping are key to your game’s success — “Successful game development requires distilling your game down to a core experience and pinpointing the weaknesses in its design. That’s why it’s so important to identify and itemize the systems that comprise your core loop, and prototype them as soon as possible.”

Founders, what’s your cockroach plan? — “Ahead of every round of financing, my cofounder Saasha and I allocate some time to crafting our “cockroach plan”. This is the plan for how we’ll survive the worst-case scenario: failing to raise. We call it a cockroach plan because of the cockroach’s legendary ability to survive against all the odds. And it isn’t a plan B, or even a plan C — it’s a plan F; it really truly is the last resort.”

Quote that I’ve been thinking about

Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.

— David Allen

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I hope you have a great weekend!