Travis Hancock and his wife Holly Hancock founded a game company called Facade Games as a side project in 2015. After they sold over 150,000 units of their first game, they both decided to quit their day jobs and pursue this project full time. Through his years of experience, Travis Hancock is able to share tons of insight into how to succeed in this space.
What are one or two books/podcasts/ other materials that have most greatly influenced your life?
What motivated you to get into this space when it was already so saturated with competitors? How do you go about making your company stand out from your competitors in the present?
When we launched our first game it was as a side-project, and we never foresaw owning our own game company and competing in the space. But that first game took off on Kickstarter and showed us that there were people out there interested in our game style and rules. So we kept on going! We try to make our games stand out by their packaging, historical tie-ins with the themes, and fun game mechanics for large player counts.
How did you first validate the risk of starting your own business?
Kickstarter is a great validation tool. Right away you can see if people are interested, based on if they put money towards the project or not.
Can you share how you market/advertise a new game?
We actually don't do a ton of marketing. Once we get the games out into lots of homes, they kind of sell themselves especially since people play with their friends and then their friends buy it as well. We focus on making an awesome game, and then a lot of the marketing takes care of itself. We also do some ads on Facebook during Kickstarter campaigns, and send free games to game conventions and libraries so that people can test them out for themselves.
How do you manage family dynamics when working with a spouse?
It's important to set "work" hours and have a dedicated office where the work can stay. It definitely is a challenge keeping work spilling into personal life and it's something that we're working on. Luckily we both love making games so it's not too bad when it does spill over.
What do you think has been the “key” to your success this far?
Tons of testing! We test our games hundreds of times before they are released and try to make them super fun. Like I mentioned above, games are naturally viral things if they are good.
What do you wish you knew before you started Facade Games?
There was a lot we didn't know, and a lot we learned along the way. I don't think you can "know" something until you've gone through it, so I'm actually grateful for mistakes we've made along the way - we've gotten better because of them.
What is some of the best advice you have ever received? Some of the worst?
Best advice: It's better to be done than to be perfect. Sometimes you just need to complete a task instead of spending forever making it just right. You can tweak and adjust as you go, but it's important to keep moving forward with the next step. We apply this to making the rules, making the design, and making business decisions.
Worst advice: That you need to spend lots of money on marketing and advertising. I believe that making an awesome product is way more important.
What is some final advice you can give to an aspiring high school entrepreneur?
Finish a product or business idea from start to finish. Just finish it! Even if it isn't "successful" or perfect, doing something through its entire process will give you confidence for future projects and help you visualize what it takes to make something and be proud of it.