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▶️ Lessons Learned from Shutdown: Gaming Startups & Global Risks
Anton Kolkovskiy shut down his studio last year amidst geopolitical turmoil. Anton is joined by Phylicia Koh from Play Ventures to discuss lessons learned and fundraising in the new world
In May 2020, Anton Kolkovskiy co-founded Bulberry Studio from Wargaming with dreams of building innovative skill-based games.
After massive effort and struggles to make everything work, Anton shut down Bulberry last year amidst geopolitical factors, including the Russian-Ukraine war.
Anton reflects on his experience, mistakes, and lessons learned in a very rare and raw conversation.
Even further, Phylicia Koh from Play Ventures, who interacted with Anton during this time, gives her feedback and advice as Anton recounts his story.
If you are a startup founder trying to make it, definitely do not miss watching this episode!
There are many deep topics and lessons we can learn from this discussion.
Some of the key topics we discuss:
Initial investment thesis, funding, and deal structure - funding from My.Games
Typical approaches to testing and product validation
The line between confidence and being wrong
Corporate VC and impact on business terms
Thoughts on metrics and messaging KPIs to investors - window dressing KPIs
Importance of getting external perspectives
The concept of “the biggest fire”
Impact of the Russian-Ukraine war
Extending runway when running out of cash
The psychological impact from startups in trouble
What would it take for a VC to invest in a troubled deal?
The importance for leadership teams to understand geopolitical & global macro risks (or not)
▶️ Start Again: Building A Games Studio Amidst Global Macro Risks in 2023
Phylicia Koh. Partner at Play Ventures
Anton Kolkovskiy. Investment Director at Mika Games
2:04 Anton intro
3:13 Phylicia & Play Ventures intro
4:35 Anton’s story starting Bulberry Studio from Wargaming.
8:41 What do VCs look to invest in then vs. now.
13:33 Initial funding from My.Games, deal structure, initial investment thesis, pitch to My.Games, and initial soft launch experience.
22:37 Strategic investments: company structure considerations
26:17 How do you know if you are succeeding on retention or deadline? Lessons learned from Anton. The line between confidence and being wrong.
29:42 What was the actual process/approach to their initial testing vs soft launch phase?
35:56 Initial soft launch metrics.
37:12 going to investors with metrics with small cohorts. Window dressing cohorts.
42:15 What could you have done to change the outcome of what happened?
46:43 The biggest fire.
48:08 Impact of global macro, the Russia-Ukraine war impact on Bulberry Studio.
1:00:02 How to extend runway when things go bad?
1:02:14 Psychological impact on founders for startups in trouble.
1:05:14 What would it take to invest in a troubled game deal from Play Ventures?
1:10:24 What should investors look for in the new investment environment?
1:23:34 How much global macro awareness should leadership teams be aware of?
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