I remember watching the first team to go through the event on the CCTV we had put in. It was possibly the most amazing experience of my life, and they freaking loved it!
Seeing them come out after fighting the big boss at the end, they were so happy… It still puts a smile on my face now.
We had been going now for maybe 6 months, dealing with issues that happened as they arose, like staff scheduling, trying to put on the maximum amount of shows and get through the most amount of people, but still give them an awesome time.
We had tried to do some beta testing, having teams go through the event as it’s being built. I never knew if anything that was learned in those tests were put into place, and the major problem that we were about to find out was the totally untested guns.
We’re live and the first 5 teams go through, and then of course the problems set in…
We had assumed that the players would spend a certain amount of time in the gig and move through at a pace. Didn’t really happen that way so the delays started, Some teams were waiting up to 4 hours just to play, but they waited and waited, some till 3 am in the morning.
Now though, I had to start dealing with 8,000 people who had booked a time and had to start moving their time slot. Not just 8,000 people, but thousands of people who are arranged into teams of 6. It was like herding cats. So yeah, that became a freaking nightmare. I thankfully had some help in the office now, two girls, and they were dealing with customer service, moving teams’s bookings around and dealing with questions.
And then the big issue happened!
The guns started breaking! Oh my god. I had a few guys on set that were doing running repair Props to Cloud. Devarje and the rest of the team were working many many 22 hour days repairing all the guns that had broken during the day. I was doing customer service all day, then at night I would go out to the set and repair guns, which as a side benefit, I became quite a decent solderer, but there were some major flaws in the gun design.
They were freaking breaking! and we didn’t have enough, so teams would be waiting for us to finish repairing a gun, just so they could start the next game.
This is where it falls apart for me:
This is when I assume that Dave started to get into Drew’s ear that I was completely incompetent. So I was getting less and less support from them. One day, I head out to the set to fix guns, and they sit me down (I was already working on V2 of the guns by this time, (with fully cast aluminium casing, rather than the plastic) and I am told that due to my inability to provide guns that didn’t break, I was no longer to be in control of that part of the event, and that they are now going to manage all the guns and development.
Freaking ouch man, that hurt….
So I head back to the office, to start payroll and so on (I was managing the accounts at the time as well). I start getting less and less support from them, which I needed due to having to think about all the accounts. This is now a month into the event and we were getting no ticket sales, but were running a 125k per week wage bill. So I came up with some ideas and we have our (now I know, final) weekly meeting.
I outline the ideas on how we can generate some more income to cover costs. I had managed to get a private investor in at this point and that had taken a massive amount of pressure off as I was able to pay wages again for that period, but, we needed more and there were very few sales coming in.
Then they hit me with the “we have no faith in your abilities and we do not believe that you can do this” line.
They kicked me out., I was freaking devastated, I had put my heart and soul into this event, I had put every last bit of my energy, creativity, and hip shooing ‘deal with the situation as it arises’ that I had, and in an instant, it was all over.
That was it….
In retrospect, I should have fought. I should have said something more, but it was now 6 months since I had, had the idea and I was exhausted. So I let it happen and as I am editing this I can see that I will never get over it, but this has been a very cathartic experience nonetheless.
I wonder if it was a power play from Dave, a very charismatic guy who loved the idea of being the center of attention to gain control, or if they truly believed that I wasn’t up to the job. Either way, I was removed.
So what did I learn and how do I follow up on the statement of why you need to choose your partners carefully?
Well for one, crowd funding is an amazing way to generate funding for a crazy idea. The hype that it can create is also amazing as there are two key takeaways from crowd funding; firstly, you can get the funding, but secondly and more importantly, its a great vehicle for promotion and marketing.
At the time that we were doing the crowd funding, Australia hadn’t really caught up on it yet. There were some people that knew about it but I feel that it was me who managed to put it into the spotlight. Pozible is doing really well now and the idea of crowd funding is common in Australia, For that I am proud and maybe shouldn’t (but I do) take a little bit of credit for it.
I also learned that planning is freaking crucial. How much do you need? What is it going to be spent on? How long will it take? What are the problems that you are going to encounter and how are you going to deal with them?… Get that sorted FIRST!
Even though you don’t have the funding, do your business plan, work out your costs, expenses, staffing costs, wages, taxes and resources.
Who is going to do what and if your team can’t do the tasks that are in the plan, how are you going to find the people that can?
Your team is going to be a huge part of this so who are they and what are their skills? Are they the best people for the job? Make job descriptions, and stick to them. Also, make the job descriptions for the staff you are going to need too because if it’s a success, you will need to hire.
How many are you going to need and you have to be realistic. I can work endlessly (I think this is due to the fact my first career was a chef where long hours are normal) but others can’t. Other people need to sleep, stop and occasionally think about something other than your business, plan for that.
But mostly, do something that you are excited about, something that you are going to love doing 24/7 because you are going to be living and breathing it.
If you love it, if you truly get a chubby just thinking about it, then that excitement is going to show and others are going to get behind you.
I was amazingly fortunate to get a great team of people (some not so much), who truly cared for the idea and what we were doing. We felt like we were on top of the world and everyone knew we were doing something really special, so it was just amazing the passion that some of the team put in. When pay was late, they understood, because everyone felt like they were part of something huge.
I loved every moment of that adventure, every stressful second, every hair pulling freak out and every random time I saw a new comment on a post or in a forum about what we were doing that said “wow, this is amazing”
The key is you need to find partners that are as passionate about the project as you are, but you need to find people that you have a total trust in, and them in you. I read somewhere; you need to be working with people that you would rehire if you had to fire.
So do you have that trust? Is there that passion and unwavering dedication to the project? Even though each partner may not work in the same way that you do, you have to all believe that you’re working towards a totally shared goal, and that no matter what, and no matter how many times you do not see eye to eye, you will move on.
That you are all the best people for the job and the project and the business is all that matters. Personalities can clash, but the business is all that matters.