How we raised funds without any game released

You have a great game idea, but you'll need funds. You don't know where to star. Nothing is done yet. Well, this story could show you the way.

Tavrox and I wrote this article for Crazy Dreamz, a sandbox platformer where people can learn coding on a platformer game. We made it in one day, following an interview with the team. I learned a lot of things writing this article and I feel like sharing it with you here.


Raising money as an indie game is a tough task, this article is a guide for indie game developers.

You have an amazing game to make. We know you do. But you have no money, right? And let’s face it: your project is too ambitious to be made without money. You don’t know how to convince anyone to invest in your project, but trust us, raising money is not some kind of black magic. Take the right approach to make your ideas interesting and investors will help you succeed.

It’s a lot of cultural awareness and personal work. You’ll have to challenge yourself. Read out how we got 200k€ in fund raising with a simple well shown off idea. We made this guide practical and efficient, directly inspired from our own story.


AppiNest and Pistache: success and flaws

We didn’t start from nothing. Actually, we had a first experience with AppiNest. In 2015, we raised money on Kickstarter and made Pistache, a serious game to help kids to do their day-to-day chores. Then, in 2017, this app has been downloaded 200 000 times, had a lot of sponsors and subscribers, a good reputation and generated a stable revenue. But it didn’t go viral, as we planned. Why?

Using Pistache, parents feel like a failure to delegate their authority to an app. Who want to advertise a product that replace your parenthood duties? Thus, only 20% of the income comes from subscribers, and 80% from the sponsorship.


Test and learn: draw lessons from your former experiences

It is a failure but the knowledge we got was worth millions. Business is about understanding pattern through experiments and reviews. You can’t learn to walk if you fear falling. After failing, the main thing is to take a step back and look at the situation. You’ll be able to draw precious entrepreneur wisdom out of it.


The idea of Crazy Dreamz: a work of art of business

We wanted a game that goes viral, so we started to look for something people desperately want. During game events, we noticed that some were eager to discover the world of game development. Players now want a do-it-yourself game in which they can learn basics in coding. Bang! Crazy Dreamz.

Gaming is already used as a learning media. Minecraft is used in some US schools. In the meantime, coding schools are opening here and there. A game that teaches coding was definitely a trend worth digging.

We added a whole social gameplay, viral features, a cute art direction and we got a concept that aims for this specific market that attracted a lot of investors attention, including some video game leading companies. At that time, it was definitely not about justifying every choice we put in the game through a pragmatic lens.


Guess what society craves for, and how YOUR idea will fulfill this need

You think your idea is great for itself! That means it is great… for you. However, is it for your hopefully 500k subscribers? Is it for your potential huge video game company partner? Ask this to yourself, because investors will.

Beware of your prideful excuses. If you want your baby to live, you have to accept the idea it will face society and what people would like to play. Stop asking yourself what society can do for you: you have to tell society what your idea will do for it. Why does it need your game? Prepare for being credible, because that’s what you’ll have to tell to your potential investors.


How we prepared our weapons

The next important steps were to make a nice prototype and embellish the idea in a full, detailed business package. The business plan had to be flawless, interesting and exciting. It’s what makes Crazy Dreamz a work of business before being a work of art.

During the pitch, we had to show everything: the prototype, the team, the idea and our mid-term vision. We did not forget the most important: investors were already with us. Finally, the efficiency of our business model, using example of other startups that successfully raised funds and made money out the trading method we chose.

Yep. We raised money before it even existed: this is the quintessential of trading.


You too, prepare your weapons!

• Start with a business plan as complete as you can. We mean a big fat Excel with 18 sheets and numbers in your entire screen. Don’t hesitate to make it thick: no one reads it. You’ll still need it, because it shows your seriousness and how ready you are to make your project real. Your graphic standards must already be in your visuals.

• Be informed about the shareholder’s alliance. Your investors won’t give you a law lesson, they want an operational partner.

Prepare your arguments. Write them down. Class them.

Build a nice portfolio on LinkedIn.


Meeting people and building trust

AppiNest capital and friend’s money was our invest basis, people who trust us because they knew us. Soon it drew the attention of a big video game name that became one our most forceful argument. At this stage, we were negotiating with the BPI – french public invest bank – to raise funds. We told them this company was interested in our project, and told to the company that the bank would help us too. As a result, both promised to support us.

When everything was ready, we simply searched for “Investors” on LinkedIn. You know this basic stuff that might never work? It worked. Don’t think you’ll feel stupid, just be bold. That’s the kind of “risk” you have to take to build yourself a concrete knowledge about business.


Money streams

Love money: count on family and friends that may invest in your project. Everybody knows that you need money to make money, so talk about your fundraising to everybody.

State aid: look up if your municipality, the state or another administration wouldn’t lend you some money under certain circumstances.

Big companies: some are always looking for new projects, and the tiniest sign of interest from them is always a big argument to show off.

Investment funds: those companies can put a lot of money in your project if it meets specific criteria. They’re always looking for projects above 1 million dollars. They’re asking for very solid business plans but it’s not impossible to get them.

Business angels: these are personal investors that will give their money because they like your project. Look more for this type of investor than for the ones that will invest a lot of money but will ask for a lot of guarantees. They know each other and your fund raising project can spread through their network. They usually aim for 10k€ to 100k€ investments.

Crowdfunding, of course.

We still own our society

It tooks months of effort, first to find the investors, then to make it real on paper and bank account, but we ended up with our 200k€ to start our game for real – and we own it. We are the ones who make decisions because we still are the majority shareholders and no one can tell us what to do. For us, taking decisions is what makes us indies. So the real work is starting now.

To push the game even further, we might need a second fund raising round. It’s not necessarily a bad thing if the first one helped you to start making your game. Releasing it will be a whole new adventure, and the investors will likely follow you on this way because that’s what will generate profit! And profit will stop the necessity of raising funds, thus permitting you to stay the majority shareholder for a large part. Which means, you know, be the boss.


In conclusion, what do you need to do?

• You need to make a game people want. Maybe you’ll have to look up for a specific concept you’ll discover with a careful market study, or maybe your brilliant idea can do the trick under a certain light.

• Testing is the key! You can’t know if a concept is interesting before putting a prototype in the hands of an end user. Make as much tests as possible and refine your prototype.

• You need to prepare your show really well. We must believe your game already exists on paper.

• You need to go out, get your ass off your house, meet people, and ask them for money.

• You need to persevere until the job is done, and beyond.

Thanks for reading our fundraising feedback! Do you think game developers need to do more fundraising? Or dig other money streams?

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