Re-Rolling: From Hobby to Business

Welcome back to Re-Rolling: A Journey Through Game Design and Self-Publishing, where we discuss the ins and outs of board gaming entrepreneurship and our personal journey to forming Through The Ash. I’m Michael, and in this edition, I’m thrilled to share the story of how I transitioned this hobby of mine into a thriving Multi-Member LLC alongside my business partner, Josh Koester. Let’s dive in!

Josh and I first crossed paths in the fantasy realm of Warhammer 40k, a tabletop game that sparked a friendship destined for entrepreneurial endeavors. Our initial encounter came a few weeks after a family Christmas gathering, that led to an all-night gaming session and the birth of a shared passion. Together with our friends, we dove deep into the massive world of 40k, eventually founding a local league and immersing ourselves in the gaming community.

Then came the onset of my Dungeon and Dragons obsession which marked a pivotal moment, sparking a desire to craft immersive experiences of my own. With the onset of Covid-19, we adapted, moving our gaming sessions to the safety of my home while I brainstormed the next big project. It was during this time that the concept of The NightStalkers was born—a game set in the eerie realms of cinematic horror, devoid of superpowers but swarming with suspense and thrills. With the thematic world loosely built, it was time to bring in someone who I knew was knowledgeable about board games, to help turn this dream into a reality.

With Josh’s analytical prowess and my creative vision, we embarked on a journey to bring The NightStalkers to life. Through endless rounds of brainstorming and meticulous playtesting, we sculpted a working prototype worthy of unveiling to a wider audience. Yet, as our ambition swelled, so did the need for professional guidance. Recognizing the imperative of legitimacy, we enlisted the expertise of seasoned business attorney to steer us through the labyrinth of company formation intricacies and contractual negotiations, ensuring our venture’s foundation was as robust as our game itself.

Turning to legal experts, we plunged into the intricate process of restructuring Through The Ash from a Sole Proprietor LLC. into a Multi-Member LLC. With the astute guidance of our attorney, we deftly navigated the complexities of crafting operating agreements, ownership percentages, contractor agreements, and establishing the legal framework for essential components such as bank accounts, business loans, and e-commerce capabilities. Each step forward was a testament to our unwavering dedication and determination to see our brand thrive in the competitive landscape of gaming innovation.

In this section we reflect our past actions, decisions and what we may have done differently for better results.

Establishing your foundation
Firstly, establishing a clear company structure and delineating the roles for everyone involved in each game under development from the outset is paramount. This is something we learned a bit later in the process and we highly recommend having this be one of your initial steps. This vital step will help alleviate any undo tension and ensure all parties are on the same page from the very beginning. We only began to truly contemplate these steps when minor issues surfaced regarding the company structure and the direction our first game should follow in terms of mechanics. To summarize, we should have done these following things prior to making anything which includes defining roles and responsibilities, estimating financial needs for legitimizing the company, and determining ownership percentages. Don’t hesitate to seek guidance from experienced entrepreneurs and gather insights from books or blogs like this to ensure a solid foundation for growth.

Furthermore, patience is a virtue when navigating legal processes. While it may be tempting to rush through legal documentation, taking the time to review every detail thoroughly is essential. Requesting revisions as needed ensures that contracts accurately reflect agreements and protect all parties involved. Remember, investing time upfront can save you from costly mistakes down the road.

Finally, with all these steps completed, you can now transition from individual entities to a unified company that reflects all parties involved. This crucial step enables you to apply for joint bank accounts, loans, grants and for receiving dividends from your company when they become available. We suggest considering smaller banks or credit unions that offer dedicated services for business accounts. Establishing a personal connection with someone familiar with your business needs can be advantageous in navigating the process smoothly.

As we reflect on these insights, we acknowledge that the journey of entrepreneurship is filled with valuable learning experiences. Embracing a mindset of continuous improvement and adaptability is key to navigating challenges and achieving success in whatever your business may be.

Join us next time on Re-Rolling as we explore more insights and adventures in the world of board gaming entrepreneurship.

Until then, keep rolling those dice and embracing the journey!