Friday, June 24, 2011

Start Up Challenges & The Road to Menlo Park

As many of my readers know, I am a co-founder and the C.O.O. of Trilobyte Games, LLC. Trilobyte develops and publishes digital, entertainment software (games, movies & appBooks) for Apple's hand-held mobile devices. With over 500 million iPhones, iPod Touch devices and iPads in the market, there is no shortage of potential customers. That's why we're there. But I can tell you that operating in Apple's eco-system is a challenge, and starting up as a bootstrapped, self-funded venture is even more challenging. 

In 1992, Trilobyte introduced one of the first two PC games that pioneered full-motion-video: "The 7th Guest." 2 million copies sold at $79.95, grossing approximately  $150 million. After that launch, which drove CD-ROM hardware sales, Trilobyte introduced a sequel: the "11th Hour."The company was dissolved by the two co-founders to pursue other projects. 

Co-founder Rob Landeros went on to produce the industry's first interactive film, Tender Loving Care (TLC) starring John Hurt, with Aftermath Media in 1995.

Last year, Landeros invited me and my colleague John Fricker to join him and re-organize Trilobyte Games, LLC; to bring "The 7th Guest" (T7G), the 11th Hour and other properties to hand-held devices. He proposed we build the content development/production studio of the future.

We self-funded and launched T7G in Dec. 2010, followed-up by the launch of "The 7th Guest: Infection," built from the ground-up for iOS, this Spring. Now we're ready to develop and release "The 7th Guest III: The Collector," a 13-episode prequel that ties the story of Stauf, the mansion and our brand all together. It will feature video, audio, an original score and a stunning environment, along with the mind-bending puzzles we're known for.

We've learned a few things since our Dec. launch. Like how to survive in the Apple eco-system. We've also discovered that we have a strong brand and a loyal fan-base who are anxious for us to succeed. We've updated our web site; built a Facebook page with over 1,000 likes; a branded YouTube channel; and, we've got five Twitter accounts. With resources and networks in place, we're ready to scale our venture up to execute our ambitious content development and market penetration plans.

We've also learned that entertainment software is about more than games; it's about interactive, multimedia content designed to play across the entire spectrum of available devices.  In that regard, we've inked an agreement with Aftermath to port TLC to the iPad and other tablets; and we've got more interactive movies in our queue. We're also talking to a variety of authors, including graphic novel creators, about co-developing what we're calling appBookstm - literature & entertainment 2.0.  Our intent is to offer a comprehensive product line featuring titles in each of these categories: digital games, interactive movies and books.

We are looking to raise $1.5 million to fund our vision.  That figure covers the development of our new games, the port of TLC to the iPad and our first few appBook offerings.  So we're on our way to Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park, the home of Silicon Valley's largest cluster of Venture Capitalists, Angels and investment bankers.  I'll be posting progress notes here from time-to-time.

No comments: