Friday, May 16, 2014

Just a Few Days (Kickstarter)

Our game center expansion Kickstarter is just a few days away. A week ago we felt done with it and opened up the preview to friends and family to comment. That lead to quite a few changes, including adding more promotional items to the offerings, especially at lower tiers. The main courses are still there, we just added some appetizers to the menu.

The project was submitted to Kickstarter for approval on Wednesday morning and was approved by Thursday afternoon. We plan to launch on Sunday, because, I'm told, the math works out best for Sunday launched projects (Ask Parker). We were pretty sure we would be approved, but sometimes the rules are a bit, um, arbitrary. It's hard to tell because one of the hobbies of Kickstarter followers is to point out inconsistencies, most of which, as far as I can tell, are perfectly reasonable.

Robert Pace has done a good job of analyzing various game store related crowd funding projects in the Game Store Retailer Facebook group. There have been twelve in total, seven on Kickstarter and five on Indiegogo. We will be Lucky 13. Although they don't follow much of a pattern in their success in funding, it is clear that if you don't have a base to draw upon, your game store Kickstarter probably won't work. The best success examples in this area include The Raygun Lounge and the recent Endgame Cafe.  They were able to acquire 2-3 times their funding requests. Most others fail to break $10,000. One has opened and failed and three have taken the money and failed to open.

When it comes to our project, after all the math is done, the Kickstarter, if it only hits the minimum pledges to fund, will comprise 25% of our project budget. We're aiming for $25,000. 75% of the project costs will come from our construction loan. The Kickstarter itself has costs around $7,000, including producing electronic products, Amazon fees, and staff hours. I can also tell you we've already spend about $10,000 so far on the project, mostly with the architects. Does that mean it will happen regardless of the Kickstarter? Noooooo. It won't happen if the Kickstarter fails. It does mean there are some significant "sunk costs" associated with the project that will drag on the business if it doesn't work out.

That sounds kind of negative, but I know people like to read this blog to get the numbers, the behind the scenes scoop on what's really going on. We're expecting it to succeed. Some of my current projects include budgeting for the stretch goals, considering the various project updates, FAQ's for the inevitable confusion, and meetings that we need to schedule in advance of any problems. Plus I'm also working on my ACD Games Day presentation: Inventory Management for Maximum Profit. The Kickstarter launches Sunday and I'm off to Wisconsin on Wednesday.

Along with a successful Kickstarter and the following construction project will be a re-negotiation of our lease. It's not only a construction project, it's a commitment from me. It's an agreement that Black Diamond Games will be part of my life for another ten years at least. That puts the store longevity at the 20 year mark and me well into my 50's. Think about that for a minute.

Setting up for our Kickstarter video 


  1. I am looking forward to backing it. :)

  2. I'm about the same age, and wouldn't mind being in the same boat. If running a game store in your 50's doesn't sound appealing, what would you rather do in your 50's? Whether you like it or not, you're going to be 50 something at some point and can't do anything about that.

  3. A ten year commitment to anything is a big step. I've always said I've got a Next Thing left in me. I suppose being in your 50's is really not *that* old, but I figured a Next Thing would be in that territory. Not that I couldn't go off and do something else during that period, it's just I can't foresee it.