I first met Neal Trotter when I volunteered to speak at Kin-Yoobi con. Over the years he's extended the range of his ambitions, and has now formed Game Zone Recreation, his own media company. Mixing game development, animation and game events, and jounalism, Neal is carving out his own destiny.
1) Neal, you decided to start your own company in a tough economic time. What was your motivation?
Starting a development company has been a life long dream of mine and it's not going to change just because the economy happens to be in a recession. Although the tough economy makes it harder to finance the company, it just makes it that much more rewarding when we accomplish our milestones.
2) How are you keeping yourself afloat?
Since we're a start-up, all the money the company makes goes directly back into the company for growth and financing. Many of the staff members work other jobs to cover personal expenses and make ends meet. I work part time at FedEx.
3) Tell us more about your business model and how you plan to make it work.
Game-Zone Recreation is about developing content that is oriented toward anime and gaming fans. The company has three divisions. Currently our most profitable division is our event side, which our anime convention, Kin-Yoobi Con, is under as well as smaller anime and gaming events such as gaming tournaments and anime get togethers. Our journalism division has to do with the content we have on our website which are written and video reviews and editorials about gaming and anime. Internet traffic is how our journalism division becomes profitable. We are currently working on two projects under our video game development division, a traditional style RPG currently called Eternal Dragon and a mobile iOS game. I'm currently studying Project Management in graduate school which is very helpful because I can apply the knowledge I learn to properly schedule and budget all of our different projects in the company.
4) How do your hobbies and interests play into this decision?
I love video games and decided at a young age that I wanted to develop them. My company gives me a platform to achieve this dream and use my interests in constructive ways.
5) What is your advice for people starting their own business?
Biggest thing is to not give up. If things become unmanagable learn to scale down. It is extremely rare that anything you set out to do becomes exactly the way you wanted it to happen. Many people give up at that point. But success happens when you accept a result that isn't ideal and keep building on that result so it improves. If you keep improving upon what you have and turn that into a constant process, you're bound to reach success. Constant improving also means knowing when to scale up. Of course you will face difficulties and hardships along the way, and the key is to learn how to manage and navigate through them toward success. The main way to do that is by not giving up while constantly trying to improve in a reasonable way.
6) How do you promote your business?
We're still learning how to promote effectively actually. Just until recently our primary way of promotion was through word of mouth; attending as many anime and gaming conventions, festivals, and get-togethers as possible; meeting as many new people as we can, both fans and professionals; and passing around fliers. We've recently shifted focus to online promoting through our website and social networking. Nothing beats the face to face contact but you can reach a ton of people much easier online if you know how to best go about it.
7) Anything else you want to share with your fellow professional geeks?
It's important to listen to people and be open to advice, but more often then not sometimes it's best to shut everything and everyone out and listen to what your gut and heart is telling you. People tend not to realize how easy it is to critique or criticise when they are the person outside looking in. Often times people don't understand the difficulties that go behind the process of making things happen so their input, even if meant well, may or may not apply. The best thing to do is always think critically about the constructive criticism or advice you recieve. Always be open to suggestions but if you truly believe or are passionate in something then go for it and don't let anyone stand in your way.
8) If people wanted to help out, how can they?
Check out our website at gzronline.com and our Youtube chanel at youtube.com/gamezonerecreation. We have some great and entertaining videos about gaming and anime that you can watch. Your traffic helps. Also consider volunteering for Kin-Yoobi Con 2012. We'll have the website up for that soon with all the details.