The latest episode of the Voom Podcast saw a true industry pioneer enter the studio, as gaming trailblazer Ian Livingstone explained how he helped shape what is now one of the world’s most profitable industries.
From founding Games Workshop in 1975 and bringing fantasy board game titles such as Dungeons and Dragons and Warhammer to Europe - to becoming President of Eidos Interactive and contributing to blockbuster video game series such as Tomb Raider and Hitman - Ian is one of the most of the most celebrated figures in an industry that generates more money on an annual basis than the film and music industries combined.
Here are four lessons that every entrepreneur can takeaway from Ian’s story, irrespective of the industry they might be working in.
1. Release products, make mistakes, find a winner.
"Just do it. If you have an idea for a game then just get it out there, don’t worry about it being perfect. It might not be a success but don’t view that as a problem, success is just a part of the journey. So take the learnings from it and move onto the next project. Look at Angry Birds, it wasn’t Rovio’s first game, it was their 51st game."
2. Hold onto your intellectual property.
"If you’re starting a new company then make sure you retain ownership of your intellectual property for as long as you can. So often it’s the case that it’s hard to get access to finance, especially in the games industry, and people don’t understand intangible assets, they don’t have security and they don’t understand digital IP.
"This results in people trading away their IP for project finance, which results in them being a work for hire. But if you own your IP then you don’t just get the revenue from publishing your work but also from incremental revenues through licensing and merchandising."
3. Being liked is important if you’re a leader.
When it comes to investing in new businesses, Ian looks very closely at the person at the head of the company. For him, investing in people is key and the type of people he chooses to invest in have to have a certain set of qualities.
4. If the right ecosystem isn’t in place, make your own.
"We opened shops so we had physical spaces, we started a magazine - White Dwarf - to promote our hobby as nobody else would write about it and we started a factory - Citadel Miniatures - so people could have little models to represent themselves in the games. Nobody else was able to supply all this stuff so we did it ourselves."