For me to tell you what we hope is to be in our future, I feel like I have to explain the past year first. DoodleMash has been a business that Jake and myself have been trying to get off the ground for officially a little over a year. Amazingly, we’ve done everything we’ve set out to do. We can’t control the outcome of those things, but I’m proud of all the things we’ve accomplished this year. It’s amazing to be able to check these things off our to do list:
-Took a pizza box prototype and turned it into a polished game
-Sold our first 100 games
-Auditioned for the show Shark Tank!
-Launched a kickstarter campaign
-Attended the Chicago Toy and Game Fair
A year ago when we started this crazy endeavor, we both agreed that I would make DoodleMash my full time “job” (can you call it a job if you’re not getting paid?). Our youngest goes to kindergarten in the fall of 2019, and so we knew we had about a year and half of me being a stay at home mom/work from home mom, to try and make this thing work before it was time for me to re-enter the work force (how ever that may look).
Optimistically, almost pie-in-the-sky type hope, we thought maybe DoodleMash would turn into a paying job, but realistically, it takes a lot of work, money and luck to make that happen. We have the work part down, and luck we can’t control. Now money, that’s a different story. We sold out first 100 games at a loss, which means it cost us more to make them than what we sold them for. We knew going in that we were going to have to invest a little bit of money to start generating money, and in the world of products, that can be very tricky. In order to make money off a product, you have to buy a lot of the product to get the price of cost low enough so that you can sell it at a profit. If you want to get into retail, the cost has to be low enough to sell twice, once to the retailer, and once to the customer.
Before we ordered 1,500-2,500 units of DoodleMash, we wanted to be sure we didn’t end up with a dud. As much as our friends and family pumped us up with kind words about DoodleMash, the opinion of non-partial people, people who didn’t know us, is what really needed. We didn’t want to be stuck with a basement full of games no one wanted and in debt over our head with two young kids starting school. So we took calculated financial risk in incremental amounts directly related to our return in our invest, with a set amount of money that we both agreed not to go over. We took money out of Jake’s retirement to buy our first 100 games. The good news is, people love the game. Strangers, people who don’t know us, and people of all ages. When Jake and I created this game, this was our intent, to create a fun family party game, and the feedback from our customers is we hit the nail on the head. This was our proof of concept.
With our proof of concept in hand, we confidently turned to two possibilities to get DoodleMash available to the public, kickstarter and/or a licensing deal with a toy/game company. Unfortunately our kickstarter failed. We asked for $29,000 which was to cover the cost of 2,500 games, shipping the games, storing and distribution of the games. No profit built in. We knew it was a high goal, we could see other kickstarter projects asking less and getting funded, but they were usually a game without a board (the board is what costs the most) usually a card game. Try as we might, I could not find a manufacture that could produce less than 2,500 units.
Our kickstarter ran for 35 days, and in the middle of our campaign, we attended the Chicago Toy and Game Fair. I will do a separate post on this experience later, but we came out of that with 6 companies that might lead to a licensing deal, the most traction we’ve made so far! We sent emails and follow ups, but all of our current US contacts declined to do a licensing deal. A drawing game is a bit of a gamble, and so while they “liked the game” it wasn’t a right fit for their company.
Here we are with a failed kickstarter, no licensing prospects in the US, and no money. What will we do in 2019? Jake and I have agreed to try kickstarter one more time. Funny when something fails, you know more about the thing you just tried to do. You don’t know what to ask when you don’t know. I managed to track down and get in contact with other game producers who have successfully funded games on kickstarter, and they helped me find a manufacture that can produce less units (1,500 instead of 2,500-5,000) which means that our next round we will be able to ask for less money! I am also working as hard as possible in the social media realm to get as many eyes on our game as possible. The more people that see how fun DoodleMash is, *hopefully* the more that will want to help fund it the second time around. But we all know social media is a complex web of algorithms that can make things difficult to be seen. For example, did you know that only 1-2% of business posts get seen by the customers following their page. There’s only so far one person can organically reach. Makes me feel less self conscious when I do live videos though knowing only, like, 2 people are watching! I’ll continue to do local game demonstrations to get the word out about DoodleMash. We have no capital left, so kickstarter is our only option for getting the game manufacture. If our kickstarter succeeds, hooray! We’re on our way, people will have the game in hand, and we will have games to sell to retailers. If the game doesn’t get funded, then it will have to go on the back burner for a low simmer for a while so we can pay bills, get a job that pays, and hopefully, in time, we will be able to try again.
One thing I can say for sure, this game has changed my outlook on life. Ive learned how to make play an important part of being an adult. While I hope my future continues to hold playful prospects, I’ve learned how to have fun anywhere.