Two and a half years ago, I left the security of a stable job at Electronic Arts to cofound a now failed start up with a longtime colleague. Based on our time making free-to-play games at EA, we saw an opportunity to build the business backend as a service for game developers. We were both burnt out from a challenging year at EA after our GM left to cofound a well-funded, all-star game studio. We both had enough savings to cover a year of independence on a tight budget. We both wanted the freedom to pursue side projects and agreed on a Google style 20% personal time plan.
I intended to check two items off my life goals list. I wanted to found a startup and I wanted to make some small, independent games. I had a partner I trusted and a shared vision. He found a technical cofounder from his network to join our team. We hired a lawyer. We incorporated. We pursued advisors, crafted a pitch deck, built a technical foundation and started hunting for investment. We went full Silicon Valley.
As my ultimate role was imagined as developer relations and evangelism, I started attending conferences and giving lectures on free-to-play game design. A strange thing happened. People started asking if I would consult on their games. Keenly aware of my bank balance, I started accepting jobs. I hired a personal lawyer and accountant. I set up a monetization design consultancy. Fearful of going broke and excited by the opportunities presented to me, the dream of making small games faded into the background.
12 months ago on the Jewish New Year, I wrote about our hours old decision to shutter the startup. Now I am celebrating the New Year again. It is a time for personal reflection and new beginnings. As I survived another year on my own, it feels like the perfect time to look back and detail the many lessons I have learned since cutting the corporate purse strings in favor of independence.
Continue reading A playbook for cutting the corporate purse strings