Quite a few changes have made it into the game over the last couple of weeks. I’m ever conscious of scope creep so all these changes have had solid reasons behind them:
This always needed a revisit. There is now a two step process in getting investment:
- There is an investor profile screen which is accessible at all times and shows some details about any investors interested in your company. New profiles appear every time you “level up” the Investor Research task. The profiles include affinities (how interested the investor is in various aspects of startups), as well as textual information about them. You then design your pitch deck based on these attributes. I’m thinking about making parts of the profiles “unlockable” via doing more research work.
- Once you are ready, you can select up to 3 investors and present you pitch deck to them. This works as I had it before: each slide increases the interest level of each investor based on their affinities. Any investors that reach some minimum interest level will valuate and put in an offer. You get the chance to put in a counter offer once (an aggressive counter offer will make the investor back out).
This change was kind of odd, in that I only thought of it a few days ago. Yet it was obvious that it was a good addition to the game. I also noticed that I’m getting a lot faster in putting up new features and UI in Unity. This whole change took me a day to do:
Previously here is how I calculated the number of visitors to your site/product:
Rate = f(m)
Visitors = market size X Rate
f() is some complicated exponential function, and
m is the sum of the levels of the sales and marketing tasks, namely Inbound, Outbound, Social, Traditional, and Event Marketing.
The problem with this model is that it’s highly dependent on the size of the market and it suffers from the “slice of pie” fallacy that many startups fall into: just because a market is large doesn’t mean you’ll be getting a piece of the pie. Another problem is that this model doesn’t take into account any costs associated with ongoing marketing and sales (which is probably the biggest cost of a startup). Finally, it’s just a bit dull as a mechanic.
To solve this I now have a series of activities for each area. You can decide how much money you want to spend on each activity per month. The activities are:
- Cold Calls
- Cold Emails
- Mailing Lists
- Blog Posts
- SEO and Search Ads
- Video Content
- MyFace Ads
- Barker Ads
- Pictasia Ads
- Newspapers and Magazines
- Radio Ads
- TV ads
- Local Meetup Sponsorship
- International Conference Sponsorship
Each of these activities has a predetermined “cost per visitor” for a given market. That means some are going to convert a lot better for than others. Part of the interest here is going to be figuring out which channels convert best for the particular market you are in. So what happens with the tasks in the backlog? Well, they stay. But now the level of these tasks determine the maximum amount of money you can spend in each area. Thy also provide a progression system where each activity above requires a minimum level in the corresponding task before it is unlocked.
I have also added a bunch of charts and graphs that are sorely needed for the decision making process. So far I have:
- The customer acquisition funnel, showing a running 4 weekly funnel of visitors, trials, signups and churn.
- Historic graphs of the 4 above
- Total cash history
- Monthly earnings vs expenditure history
I actually haven’t built this yet, but I wanted to create some sort of timeline of the most important events and milestones in your company. I want to make this kind of fun. Maybe it includes staff photos, or fun anecdotes.
Where to From Here?
I think I have enough now to be able to get some form of alpha out to a selected few and get feedback. I’m tying up some loose ends (see green labels on my Trello board) but no major new changes. Given the art and UI still looks horrendous, and there is no tutorial in place, I’m going to have to be a lot more measured about the alpha, choosing people who can get past those things and give me feedback on the core gameplay. That might be easier said than done.
If you are reading this and are interested, do send me a message / email and I’ll keep you posted.