Kevin Rohan and I run Silver Gryphon Games in addition to our day jobs. As I write this, he's at VerminCon in Vermillion, SD, doing a test-run of a new product idea. I just finished writing and posting on the company website about a new product release we have next week. We spend what free time we can scrounge up on the business.
In the end, though, there's a wall separating a side business and a fully-realized day job. Let me show you what I mean, and how we intend to break that wall down.
There are only so many hours in the day, and by the time we get home from our day jobs, both of us tend to be pretty well drained. In a given day, we each spend about 8-10 hours on our day job. I tend to spend maybe an hour a night on Silver Gryphon work, when I have the energy for it. Kevin's around about 2-3 hours a night on SGG. Our weekends have a much bigger share, and I spend at least 5-6 hours in total over the weekend on SGG.
On average, that puts us at about 30 hours a week between the two of us on SGG. That's less than a single full-time employee.
Through the help of our wonderful team and a network of awesome friends, we're able to keep a fairly regular release schedule, but that's a miracle in itself. It takes a lot of time, effort, and money to produce even a single gaming book. We have a small amount of working capital from prior sales; it's never enough to completely fund a book on its own, so we make up the difference by doing most of the work ourselves, rather than contracting it out. This works out alright for a hobby business, as it keeps us releasing books, but this kind of working model is unsustainable for a full business. A company can't grow if it's tied directly to the productivity of two half-time workers.
That's where the wall lies. Here is how we're going to break it down.
Fantasy Flight Games started life as a single guy with a single awesome product - Christian Petersen and his Twilight Imperium. It took two years from the time he started the company until the time he released that game. Until its release, Fantasy Flight's primary business was importing European comics - not a big money-maker.
With Silver Gryphon Games, we have three main product lines that we support now - Kevin's Æther, Pinnacle Entertainment Group's Savage Worlds, and our newest line, my own Ingenium. That's a large set of brands to build for such a tiny company. We don't want to cut any of them from production, and that's where our tendency to miss stated deadlines comes from. In the four years that the company has existed, we've had a remarkable amount of success for such a broad spectrum of products.
In order to break down the wall between hobby business and full business, there's only two things we really need to do - increase our working capital, and decrease our reliance on our own effort. The two are linked, but not inextricably so. To date, we've worked with some amazing contractors. Our go-to artists are Storn Cook, Ari Syahrazad, and Brian Brinlee. We've only worked with one contracted writer, +Christian Kriech, who wrote a good portion of the Eiridia manuscript. Decreasing our reliance on ourselves requires working with more contractors, and releasing more creative control to those contractors. In order to do that, we need to increase our working capital.
And that's where Kickstarter comes in.
We're not rich folks. We don't have a lot of spare cash to pump into SGG to artificially raise the contents of its coffers. But with sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo popping up and becoming mainstream, we have the means to bring in enough money to produce our dreams.
We proved it possible - no, our fans proved it possible - when our Kickstarter for the Silver Gryphon dice project topped $8,000, with our original goal being $800. That was just a proof of concept. We believe strongly enough in ourselves, and in our fans' support, that later this year we're going to work hard on two new Kickstarters - neither of which we're quite ready to announce yet.
The hope is that, with the boost that these two will give us, we'll be able to use the resulting sales to fund everything else going forward. It'll be a cascade effect - or so we believe.
If not, then we still have the drive to push forward, but our progress will be much slower, and it will take a lot longer to break down that wall. We'll do it eventually, though!