The Journey of a Startup Business – Episode 2


[Welcome to another behind the scenes look at the Hosnovan Co.  Highlighting the process and progress of raising a business from the ground up and working our way toward something bigger.  Today we’re going over our recent success and how there’s so much more to do]

It’s actually a very interesting thing.  We have been working hard on the Bad Words product now for 14 months, and in 6 hours reached the Kickstarter goal needed to produce the game (and to also offer a lot of fun extras for Kickstarter backers as well!  That left us 29 days to do… What?  More.

Looking at the numbers that we receive from our different sources, we’re sitting at a rate of around 10% of the people who have looked at our Kickstarter page have gone forward and purchased a copy of the game.  I guess depending on how good of a salesman you are, that could be considered an awful rate of success… But for us it tell us a few things:

For going in blind to a Kickstarter, not knowing anything about the company or the game… that’s a really good conversion rate.  That tells us we have a good product to offer, we’ve presented it well (as well as a bunch of drunken folks on camera can, of course), our price is good, and our overall goals are achievable.

That also tells us that we could take that 50+ people who have purchased our product, and we could turn it into 500, or 5,000.  The only thing, in theory, that is needed is exposure.   Exposure to those 5,000 people, or to those 50,000 people.


This is the challenge now and what we’re working through as a company during the stretch of this campaign.  We want to encourage people to share our link, and to find a way to put it in front of everyone that could possibly find it interesting – but we also want to find a way to make that worth it.  Offering custom cards is one thing we’ve come up with, but more things will follow.

We want to hold contests, and stretch goals that get people to buy into our success on an emotional level.  We don’t have major products and a large stock of products that we can just begin throwing away.  This is our first success.  What we have to offer is ourselves.  We approach each day now thinking of ideas, what can we give people for helping us grow?  Should we do live streams in drag?  Would people want to see me completely bald?  What if we add more to the base game for every new backer?  So many ideas to play with, to try out, and to hope are successful.

Our success right now is getting funded, and it is such an incredible success.  The challenge, is knowing we have a good thing to offer people – knowing we can enhance parties, and make people laugh the way the games we’ve played together have made us laugh.   We have something special, and we want to spread it – and the more we can do with this success, the more likely we can have another success.  Expansion packs, new ideas, a true table top game (what we’re ultimately working toward), and other products all together (I still want to be a big enough company one day to have our own blend of Southern Comfort that is Hot Chocolate Flavored.  The HOCO HOCOCO SOCO).

Options for spreading the word and what is good and not good about them:

Facebook Advertising – This one is conflicting.  A good ad campaign can cost fractions of a cent per website click.  You can dial your search in so you’re only targeting males who are 21, who have liked Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and also My Little Pony to sell your awesome TMNT/MLP cross over shirt design.   You can really target your audience and get it to the right people.  The problem is, what defines an ad campaign as “good” to Facebook is a combination of people commenting, liking, sharing, and clicking on the ads.  A company that is intent on providing information, not clickbait, this does not work well for.  Think of it like this:

“You won’t believe what this small game company did on Kickstarter”  Click.  Then you’re spammed with ads.  Click back.  You’re super pissed off so you comment “I hate you and your stupid ads.” and then just for good measure you click the “Angry” face on the like option.

That interaction happens so often, and what that does is boost a shitty companies metrics so high that the cost to advertise to you was essentially free, because they provided “Good and engaging content”

Us on the other hand?

“We’ve got a game that is $15/$25 on Kickstarter.  Here’s what it is, here’s how it plays.”  No need to click.  No angry response in comments.  Nothing that drive that cost down, so each time you see our ad… It’s probably costing us a quarter.  That just doesn’t work for our budget of nothing.  We’re also not going to move to clickbait, no thank you.


Reddit – We could post on Reddit and hope that we can garner enough interest and excitement to get some upvotes, traction, etc.  The problem is, and something I’ve learned with previous ventures, if you don’t Reddit… don’t fucking Reddit.  Not only do you look disingenuous, you also just look plain stupid.   I read a lot of Reddit, but I don’t post, comment, etc.


Twitter – In an ideal world, when you don’t have a lot of Twitter followers to begin with (IE starting a new company) your best bet is to tweet, and tweet and maybe @ some folks and hope someone popular retweets your project link.  That’s a big big shot in the dark, and you run the risk of looking like a complete asshole the entire time.  Last time we did a little bit of this, and I tweeted at Kevin Smith a photo of the Clerks card that we had in the game.  He liked it, and I was praying for that retweet.  It never came.  We also removed Clerks from the game, not specifically because of the lack of retweet, but fuck it… It makes for a better story.  Fuck you Kevin Smith, you should have retweeted us, now you’re not in our game!


Viral Websites – Back during the previous campaign we actually got picked up by the Lad Bible who did a small piece on our game.  That did wonders for us!  We’re looking into pitching our campaign link and information to websites similar to these in hopes that someone finds it interesting enough to share out.  Problem is, like any good company, they thrive on advertising – so if they organically find something they think is interesting, they can share it as a good story… But if the company themselves is looking for the project to be shared – well that’s just giving away something for free that they could ultimately sell.  We did have a nice piece written up at Purple Pawn.  They were looking to mock knock off Cards Against Humanity versions on Kickstarter and came across our game instead – I’m not mad though, that’s better than not finding us at all.


Shares – This is the hardest thing, but all we’ve got at this point and one thing we can’t stress enough.  We’re blasting these links constantly to the people we know – friends, family, neighbors, the dog has heard the pitch about 20 times at this point.  Things start to grow when we can find that good reason to get others to share, and to get their others to share – once it becomes a tree, going beyond the immediate circle it has a chance to take life.  As mentioned, our goal now is to figure out what we can do to make that worth it


Thanks for following along, and for reading my ramblings about growing a business.  These occasional posts help me settle into my thoughts and find clarity on the next steps.  If you read all of this, comment on the Facebook post with #2013.  I don’t have any special prize or anything for it – it’s just a thing that makes me smile, and also will confuse the shit out of a lot of people who didn’t read the article.  Hey, maybe that’s what we can do instead of clickbait…. Hmmm…


Director of Finance