Matthew: What skills do you possess that come easy for you and what’s been hard and how have you managed that?
David: Generally speaking, I think the idea is the easiest part. It’s easy to build a site these days. It’s hard to build a business. I think that’s a vote in favor of when you have an idea don’t be stingy about talking about it. Tons of people will hear your idea and think it’s a great one and just not have the ability to execute on it, to put together a team, to put together capital and make it happen. So the idea is actually the easy part. The execution, I think, is the hard part.
Personally, what I’m good at is prioritizing. I think there’s a fine balance in any startup of changing course based on information that you have. You can either do it too quickly or too slowly. There’s this fine balance that you have to find. You can’t abandon your idea before you really know what you’re doing, but you also can’t ignore the data that you’re seeing that’s saying you need to change what you’re doing.
Matthew: Who are your co-founders and how did you meet, and what skills or talents were you looking for in co-founders when you started?
David: It was really lucky, for the most part. I had two guys where separately we were talking to each other about starting a company. We had this idea and we just happened to have very complementary skill sets. We had Anees Iqbal, who’s been in IT for a long time. and then we had Eric Strasser, my other co-founder, who is product marketing. Eric’s product marketing, Anees is IT, and I’m product management.
The one thing that we didn’t have is a tech co-founder, a software developer, which everybody says you need. I absolutely agree, but that’s easier said than done. There is just not enough tech talent to go around so finding a tech or developer co-founder is difficult, but something I really wish we could have done.
Matthew: Obviously, you’ve managed to overcome that.
David: We did. I mean, obviously once we had raised a little bit of money, we were able to get some really solid talent in. It’s just hard when you’re bootstrapping, especially since developers are so well-compensated, it’s sometimes hard to get them away from a really good paying job.
Matthew: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned since launching GameCrush?
David: The biggest lesson is that there’s a reason not everybody does this. It’s really, really hard. I love what I do. I’ve never been so satisfied in my job in my entire life, but at the same time, there are a lot of highs, a lot of lows. Some days you feel like, “We’re going to take over the world,” and some days you think, “I don’t know what I’m doing.” People romanticize it, but it’s tough. Your social life goes out the window. Your dating life goes out the window. It’s an all-consuming passion. It’s what you think about at night. It becomes your life.
Matthew: What bit of advice would you like to share with those in our audience about starting a company? What do you think are the most important elements to starting a startup?
David: Start with a good idea and then build a great team around it. I think one of the things that you sometimes feel pressure about when you have an idea is that time is of the essence and that you have to get something going. I actually think that there’s a benefit to slowing down and making sure that you pick the right people. It’s kind of a cliche in the Valley, but there’s a saying that A people hire A people and B people hire C people.
In a startup, you can’t do that. You have four or five or six people on your team so you can’t afford to have even one person who’s not performing at a very high level. If you do bring someone in who doesn’t perform, you’re going to have to make the tough decision to cut them. It’s better to hold out for the right person and get that person and nail it, than to speed things up and take risks on people you don’t have a clear signal about.
Matthew: What mentor individual has played a significant impact in your professional development? Question one. Question two is, is there an individual or mentor who’s helped you in launching GameCrush?
David: My biggest mentor, both professionally and startup-wise, has actually been my dad. I think the reason he’s been so valuable to me is that in startup culture we have this idea that everything we’re doing is new, it’s not the way it used to be, etc., etc. But bouncing ideas off my dad you gets this kind of seasoned perspective of people have actually been starting companies for a long time, and there are these tried-and-true themes throughout the ages of startup land that really hold true, and if you can learn these rules, you can avoid these mistakes. So he was the biggest one.
Matthew: He has a business background?
David: He does. He’s in finance, and seeing me doing this actually made him jump into another startup one more time because he was just so excited about what he was seeing. It was actually really cool.
In terms of other mentors, I would say as a quick plug for Hoss, I think the best is that I actually haven’t had one mentor. It’s the fact that I have all these people I can call with specific questions and get specific help. Like, we’re trying to structure this deal, we’re thinking about getting this investor and knowing that I have this person I can call with this specific question. We’re building a community. I know a guy who’s a community manager for Mozilla. Pete Vlastelica started YardBarker and gave me tons of ideas and advice. Mark Rotblat and Brett Wilson at TubeMogul had just gone through it six months before, gone through the same exact process, so I was able to bounce ideas off of them. It was incredibly valuable to me.
Matthew: Before we close, I’d like you to give our audience your vision of GameCrush and how you hope it will change the world.
David: The primary goal is to create a new kind of social interaction, a really deep interactive experience around gaming, where people understand it’s okay that not all interactions are created equal and that it’s okay for someone to extract value from the fact that they’re in demand socially. I mean, my autograph is worth less than Joe Montana’s even though we’re doing the same thing, and that’s okay.
Matthew: Excellent. What are the next steps for GameCrush?
David: Take over the world, like you just said. Grow harder, add more rich community features, add more games. Just really flush out the entire gaming experience.
Matthew: David, it’s been a pleasure having you as a guest on FounderLY.
David: The pleasure was mine.
Matthew: We hope you’ll come back. We’re rooting for success at GameCrush.
For those in our audience who would like to learn more and play on their platform, you can visit them at www.gamecrush.com. This is Matthew Wise with FounderLY. Again, thanks a lot, David, for being here.
David: Thanks a lot.