Discover more from Consumer Startups
🎢 #42 - Figma for Games
+ full-time & internship postings
Hey there! Welcome to my email newsletter. My name is Leo Luo, a student entrepreneur at the University of Michigan. I write about founder stories, trends, investor POV, and unique behaviors in the early-stage consumer startup space.
All my previous posts can be found here.
Follow me on Twitter @_leoluo.
🍽 Today’s menu
Startup story - Mutate (Figma for games)
What I’ve been reading - 5 articles about startups and investing
Who’s ballin’ this week - 5 new fundraising/developments in B2C space
Jobs - 12 full-time jobs and internship postings
Feedback - help me to deliver better content to you
🔥 Startup Story
Figma for Games
(Image credit: Mutate)
The gaming space has attracted increasing amounts of attention in recent years. The game creator tool space has been particularly interesting.
There is still a ton of friction in game development even with the rise of Roblox, which is a huge UGC platform with 200M+ monthly active users. Despite Roblox's large, and growing user base, only 2% of those users are creators.
Mutate is a no-code game development platform where users can co-create and play multiplayer games with their friends. It is one of the most promising startups out there trying to democratize game creation, so I was ecstatic to have the opportunity to speak with Christian, the CEO and Founder of Mutate, to learn more about their vision and startup journey.
“I started playing games in the 80s when home computers only had 5KB of RAM memory. Gaming was the only thing I did. I went to the Stockholm School of Economics, but in the last year of college in 1996, I decided to follow my passion and start my own gaming company called Massive Entertainment to make the world’s best games.
At Massive, we looked at whether we could make tools so that players could modify games. We wanted to make those tools accessible, but we couldn’t do it since CPUs and GPUs were not fast enough. We had to put that idea on hold.
Fast forward to 2014, I realized that my old vision of democratizing game creation could work now that we have cheap and powerful cloud computing, and people have good internet and much better CPUs and GPUs. I found two passionate university students, pitched my idea about democratizing game development to them, and the next day we got to work. Three of us started the company in 2014 and now, seven years later, we are 21 people, ” Christian elaborated.
🚗 Product Journey
“Instagram made people photographers.TikTok added a new dimension and made people video producers. Our ambition is to take it even further to empower everyone to create interactive experiences. We think of ourselves as the next evolution of social media, where the content is not images or videos, but rather interactive experiences. When we started this company, everything was about ‘how do we execute on this vision?’”
Christian identified three main challenges keeping people from creating interactive experiences.
Technical know-how. Even for a low-code environment like Roblox, people still need to understand how to program.
It’s not a social experience. There is often nobody to collaborate with.
The blank canvas problem. Starting from zero is a tough hurdle to overcome for any creator, let alone first-time ones.
“Number one, you can create with drag and drop - no code. What you see is what you get. Number two, everything is live and social. We play together and we create together socially - no waiting and no compiling. Number three, players can directly remix existing games and publish the remix in create mode. Suddenly, we have a new game for others to also play in the future, ” Christian explained.
Minimum Lovable Product (MLP):
“I think an MVP is super important but I would rephrase it to MLP (Minimum Lovable Product). An MVP can be so different based on which industry you are in. Our MVP took six years, but for someone selling shoes online, an MVP might take 2 weeks. It makes more sense to talk about MLP - ‘what product can you offer to your customers that they would love to use?’”
(Current product UI)
Phase one (2014) - For the first four years, Christian and his team put their heads down and iterated on the technologies they needed to build a cloud-native game engine (e.g. building streaming, compression, etc).
Phase two (2018) - The focus for the following two years shifted from being primarily tech-driven to being primarily product-driven. Christian and his team worked on creating the best overall experience, effectively packaging the technologies into a product.
Now - they’ve opened their MLP to 50 early adopters and the goal is to open up the Beta this summer.
🔑 Go-to-Market Strategy
Christian has a very meticulous framework for go-to-market strategy. He described their target users as people that grew up with Minecraft. To target those people, he has three unique approaches.
“The first one is referrals. If you have fun playing the game, you will invite your friends because it’s a social experience.
Number two, our target users spend a lot of time on Discord and Twitch. We will integrate with those platforms and target different communities. For example, you and your friends have a Discord group, you use our Mutate bot, and then suddenly you can see exactly what your friends are doing and you can join their games right away.
Finally, we will find 10-30 influencers and build cool asset packs and mini-games around them as a person, which means our business is B2B2C, piggybacking on their followers and their audience, “ Christian explained.
Stick to the vision
“Many times, you ask yourself ‘am I doing the right thing?’. My worst enemy is myself. I tend to question myself and look for mistakes. I think the hardest thing in this long journey is that you must believe in yourself until the point where you shouldn't believe in yourself. ”
Get the right team
“If you are building something for the long run, you need to find people that are as passionate about the problem as you. You’ll need people who won’t leave when it’s getting hard and people who will have the courage to restart over and over again. You need to put in a lot of effort to find these people, especially in the early days.”
Check out Mutate and sign up on their waitlist!
👨💻 What I’ve been reading
How to discover your customers’ willingness to pay
The Introverted ‘Lone Wolf’ Who Made $70 Billion in 2020
Bumble: Trick the Devil
An introduction to Bilibili (Chinese YouTube)
Why People Share: The Psychology Behind “Going Viral”
🏀 Who’s ballin this week
Mark Cuban is co-founding a podcast app where hosts can talk to fans live and monetize their conversations
Micro-mobility startup Helbiz to go public via a SPAC, and will expand into ghost kitchens
Goody raises $4 million for its mobile app that lets you send gifts via text
Twitter reportedly mulls charging for TweetDeck and new advanced features
Newly funded Maisonette is becoming a go-to brand for fashion-conscious families; here’s how
😍 Jobs & Internships
Apply - 23andMe - UX Design Intern (Bay Area)
Apply - On Deck - Operations Intern (Remote)
Apply - Two Sigma Ventures - VC Intern (NYC)
Apply - Spotify - Wearables BD Intern (NYC)
Apply - Uber - Performance Marketing Associate Intern (SF)
Apply - Salesforce Ventures - Summer Ops Intern (SF)
Apply - Andreessen Horowitz - Associate Partner, Consumer Markets Development (Bay Area)
Apply - Pine Park Health - Operations Associate (Bay Area)
Apply - First Round - Partnerships Analyst (Various)
Apply - The Engine - Investment Associate (Cambridge)
Apply - BCG Digital Ventures - Social Media + Platform Growth Associate (Remote)
Apply - Chime - Program Manager (SF)
If you have reached this far, could you please take 30 seconds to fill out this quick survey? It will help me to improve the newsletter and deliver you more interesting content in the future. Means a lot to me ♥️.
**P.S. I have adopted many of your suggestions in the past (e.g. having more bullet points, changing the order of the content, creating an archive for all previous posts, etc) so I hear you!
↺ What you might’ve missed in the last three weeks
02/07 - Story of Boomy (AI for music creation)
01/31 - Story of Apothecary (personalized skincare marketplace) + Anne Dwane (Partner at Village Global)
01/24 - Story of Public (Social investing app) + Karan Mehta (Investor at Octopus Ventures)
Check out all the startups and investors I have featured in the past on
this Notion board