By Natasha Wallace (Co-Founder & Art Director, Red Seraphim) In my role as an art director in a small social gaming startup called Red Seraphim, I am faced with two large tasks: driving the artistic feel for our first title, and forming the team that realizes that vision. As we approach our game’s launch date, the latter has become more pressing, if not a bit urgent.
I imagine that many entrepreneurs are facing the same issue as they meet their production milestones, and that they ultimately wonder if they will compromise quality of product for a more diluted workforce. While my artistic acumen was gained mainly in the classroom, my knowledge of team building was built purely from experience.
In my company's formative stages, we were hurting for human capital. On my end, it was tempting to take anyone, even if that person had minimal artistic ability. In fact, it hurts to admit that we did that for one or two people, and that things didn’t get anywhere with them.
At the time I thought: who are we to be choosy? We were just a bunch of struggling students who couldn’t afford to pay in anything but equity and the occasional free pizza (wait, we still are!), but it was only after becoming picky that we began to really grow.
Here is what we did right in team building at Red Seraphim:
- Seek people who love what they do -- People who do entrepreneurial work had better be in love with their project; it’s harder to lead people who don’t have that drive to complete their task. This is an easy statement to make, but after a dozen interviews with artists who didn’t quite have what it took, I started to wonder if I needed to lower my standards. I’m glad I didn’t compromise.
- Believe that there is always another fish in the sea –- I’ve met some fellow entrepreneurs that are amazed that we were able to raise such a large team. There’s always that lingering doubt that people just don’t want to work without the promise of money. However, there are plenty of people out there willing to put their time towards your goal, even if it might not be 40 hours per week. In this economy, everyone’s itching for something to do, especially if it’s fun!
- Make your idea sound fun –- Now, I’ll admit that telling a bunch of undergrad programmers that we’re making a video game is quite an attractive value proposition, and that certainly helped convince people to check us out. Without this component, my art team wouldn’t have the inspiration to create assets that are pleasing to look at. They put their heart in this because they also love the project.
If you’re willing to bring just anyone on board, what does it say about your opinion of your own venture? Your idea deserves a team that is as passionate as you are. Taking the time to cultivate a team, creating a fun space to work, these attract further talent in. These points aren’t just true for big companies. They matter for entrepreneurs, and I’d argue they matter even more.
Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below. About the guest blogger: Natasha Wallace is a co-founder and Art Director of Red Seraphim, a video game startup in Santa Clara, CA. She manages a team of artists in preparation for their first title, "Kymera Keeper," on mobile and social platforms. Check out Red Seraphim's Facebook page. Natasha graduated from Santa Clara University with majors in English and Studio Art, and is participating in the Leavey Business School's California Program for Entrepreneurship.