I’m Risking All My Cash And A Loan…Here We Go!

by / ⠀Funding Startup Advice / December 2, 2011

I probably owe the IRS $15,000 and I’m not sure I’ll be able to pay it when tax season comes now that I’m investing all my money. I guess that’s what being an Under30Ceo is all about! I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t nervous.

My blog posts here won’t be telling you what to do to be the best entrepreneur, or what steps you should or shouldn’t take, or the best ways to raise capital. My posts will simply be about what I am doing right now, the decisions I’m making and why I’m making them. I’ll be talking from a first hand perspective about my  journey to becoming successful. If I fail, will all of these blog posts be irrelevant? Will I even succeed? Only time will tell, but I’m confident these posts won’t be in vein. And if anything, you can see what I did wrong and not do it.

This past year I have been developing, pitching, and re-working plans for my mobile game startup, Inkky Games. After I dropped out of CalArts and privately sold my first company, Scripts Pro, I started to really get into mobile gaming. Angry Birds was huge, but not only in terms of the numbers of downloads and recognition it has received. Angry Birds has shown the world that investing in mobile gaming can be a very substantial business opportunity.

To give you a quick run down about Inkky Games, we’re developing mobile games based on great characters who tell great stories. And we’re shaping every one of those stories into a fun game with unique game play mechanics. Our customers will fall in-love with our characters and grow attached to the stories behind them. Why release a new game with unknown characters and an unfamiliar story, when we can grow a fan base for our characters into each successive release? Of course, we need to start with our first unfamiliar character, but from there, we’re golden.

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One of the biggest and most substantial issues I have come across trying to raise capital for Inkky Games, is that I just have an idea. An unproven one in the mobile field, to be specific. I don’t have any previous games for sale on iTunes, or even have a prototype of the game I want to build to show investors. Hell I’ve never even made a game before. Not having any coding experience doesn’t help either. You may even be thinking “Well, then if all that is true, what qualifies you to make a mobile game? You clearly haven’t proven that to investors.” And you’d be right. I’ve been heavily following the trends in mobile gaming. How they’ve been evolving, which elements of which games do and don’t work, why certain games failed, and really analyzing everything. Making predictions has been the strongest element to my whole formula, because all of my predictions were correct. Although, when you tell people “I predicted this and that” they barely believe you. I’ve put together what I believe are the best elements of all these great games, and while I have yet to prove it will work, I’m working on it now and am confident it will.

Getting an investor to invest at a reasonable valuation with just this idea, completely and utterly failed. I spent a ton of money on awesome designs, great looking characters but not the actual game. Many people would say “Well that was a waste, you spent all that money already and haven’t gotten any investment” but why should I ever regret anything? I have my characters designed, I have a ton of awesome art, a complete view of the world these characters live in, I have the full game mechanics laid out, and I have two plush prototypes sitting next to me that I love soo very much! If I hadn’t gone through what I have for the past year, even though I haven’t gotten an investment or even made a game, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Since leaving school, this has been one of the most exciting and enlightening years I have ever lived on this planet. Dropping out of school was the greatest decision of my life.

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I’ve been friendly with a studio called OKAM since leaving CalArts, and have been wanting to work with them ever since! They’ve quoted me on the prototype and I’m just like “I have waited long enough, I’m just going to get this prototype made myself!” We’re going to be developing a 5 level prototype game with excellent graphics and game play mechanics.We’ll get about 100 people to test and give their feedback, make some tweaks and from there pitch it to investors. It will be much easier to get lunches this time around!

I may be broke at the end of this and but after I get my first round of financing I will feel great about what the future holds. There has been talk lately in the community that celebrating raising capital isn’t appropriate. When I go from having $0 to $200,000+ in my business account solely based on the efforts of my hard work, you can be sure as hell I’m getting myself a nice outfit and having an amazing dinner. Until then and even after…hustle hustle hustle.

-Stephen M. Levinson

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