Vincent Low is the Co-Founder And CEO Of Potato Play, an exciting new mobile games publishing start-up with solid financing. It aims to bring together the best of Eastern and Western gaming as we publish creative and lucrative mobile games from China and Asia/SEA to International markets.
Vincent Low has over 17 years of game-making experience, honed at companies like Microsoft Game Studios in the UK, where he worked on Kinect Sports for the Xbox 360. Based in China for the last 8 years, Vincent built and ran one of the first games platform within WeChat in China, which grew to 10 million daily active users.
While games by established Asian publishers were in top-grossing charts worldwide, Vincent realized that many smaller-sized Asian developers faced challenges marketing their titles out of Asia. Inspired by their situation, Vincent came up with the idea of Potato Play, a data-driven publisher that brings quality games from Asia to global markets.
In an exclusive interview with AsiaTechDaily, Vincent says:
There can be many mistakes founders make, but the worse mistake would probably be giving up. Starting a company is very hard and risky, but if that initial fire had gotten you moving, it is a waste to stop before achieving what you set out to do. I think it is perfectly fine to pivot if the direction/method is wrong, and it may even take a few pivots to realize your goal/vision eventually, but just because things don’t go your way shouldn’t be a reason to stop. After all, you only fail when you stop; otherwise, you’re always on the way to success.
I would you to be remembered for creating fun and joy in lives through games. I would definitely like the games Potato Play publish to be remembered as classics, much like how Nintendo games are. It’s a bold dream for sure, and we are working towards this.
Read on to know more about Vincent Low and his journey.
Please tell me about your personal background and What motivated you to get started with your company?
Vincent Low: I have worked in the games industry for 17 years, for the most part of my career as a games developer. There is a great opportunity to merge Eastern and Western game designs, which many larger developers are starting to do. My company, Potato Play, wants to help Asian developers realize this potential and publish their games to global success.
What is your current main product, and can you share any previous product pivot story to the current product?
Vincent Low: Potato Play is a mobile game app publisher, and we publish games developed by studios in Asia to the world. We started publishing HTML5 games, which did not require any installs, but soon realized that players are comfortable installing apps and retaining much better than HTML5. Being data-driven in our publishing, it didn’t take us long to realize the vast difference in metrics, and we pivoted to publishing game apps for the app stores, which brought about rapid growth for our business.
How much money have you raised in total so far? When was the recent funding round?
Vincent Low: We have raised a total of $2.25M. The most recent funding round, which was our seed-funding round, was completed in August this year.
What were the internal decision processes in determining when to begin fundraising, and what were the logistics for this? And how many investors have you met so far and how did you meet these investors, and which channels worked best for you?
Vincent Low: Before we decide to fundraise, we would plan for our next phase of growth, know how much we need, and decide when would be a good time to raise. We go about a listing which investors we think are suitable for us at our current stage, then start approaching those investors whom we have contacts for, and reach out to our network for those we don’t. We have met over 30 investors and find that our connections/contacts worked best to get in touch with quality investors who are sincere and interested in our business.
What are the biggest challenges and obstacles that you have faced in the process of fundraising? If you had to start over, what would you do differently?
Vincent Low: We were planning to start fundraising at Game Developers Conference this year, but it got postponed due to COVID-19. All in-person meetings had to be substituted into video calls. The lack of interpersonal contact, combined with the pandemic’s uncertainty, was a barrier for quite a few investors initially.
If I had to start over, I would probably start fundraising a little later, when everyone is more comfortable with video calls and less worried about the world ending, which will then save us some time in the process.
What are your milestones for the next round? And what are your goals for the future?
Vincent Low: We will be expanding our sourcing to many more territories and aiming to double the games published monthly. Our goal is to form an ecosystem of players, games, and developers through our platform, where players can always find great games to play, and developers can tap into our network of players to distribute their quality games.
How have you attracted users, and with what strategy have you grown your company from the start to now?
Vincent Low: We rely a lot on performance marketing, common in our industry, to acquire our users. We have adopted a test early approach to publishing, and model games’ potential based on initial metrics once they are released, then scale marketing for games that have projected good return-on-investment.
Which has been the best marketing software tool for the growth of your startup, and why?
Vincent Low: We build our own BI and marketing tool, which works best for us, but it is specific to our model and required for the kind of data-driven publishing we are doing.
What do most startups get wrong about marketing in general?
Vincent Low: Some startups may think that marketing is either an art or a science, which in actual fact, it is a mixture of both. Everything should be backed and analyzed scientifically to be consistent, and areas of improvement can be identified, but the solution usually requires creative thinking, which is an art. Effectively combining both will result in successful marketing campaigns that are less hit-and-miss.
How do you plan to expand globally?
Vincent Low: We are already publishing globally, but as we grow, we aim to have local offices in regions we publish to better serve our players with localized content and events.
What are the most common mistakes companies make with global expansion?
Vincent Low: It is thinking that every country in the world is the same. No countries are the same, and for some countries, even different cities have different cultures that have to be taken into account while expanding.
How do you handle this COVID-19 outbreak situation for your company’s survival in the future?
Vincent Low: Fortunately for us, gaming has proved to be COVID-19 resilient and reinforces that people play games in both good and bad times. In terms of workforce, we have developed a unique work-from-home culture that helps us get tasks done effectively across continents and ensures we punctuate it with online gaming breaks that bond the team together for great morale.
What are the most common mistakes founders make when they start a company?
Vincent Low: There can be many mistakes founders make, but the worse mistake would probably be giving up. Starting a company is very hard and risky, but if that initial fire had gotten you moving, it is a waste to stop before achieving what you set out to do. I think it is perfectly fine to pivot if the direction/method is wrong, and it may even take a few pivots to realize your goal/vision eventually, but just because things don’t go your way shouldn’t be a reason to stop. After all, you only fail when you stop; otherwise, you’re always on the way to success.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? And What advice do you have for someone who is interested in doing similar things like yours or in a similar direction?
Vincent Low: The best advice that I’ve received is probably “Life is a marathon, not a sprint.” It reminds me to be patient and work at my pace, and what matters most is to keep the focus on the goal and keep moving.
I would advise someone interested in entering the games industry that it is both important to have the passion and have a clear understanding that it is ultimately a business. Passion is very much required, as you will need to love and understand games to excel at them. On the other hand, because gaming is such a passion-driven industry, there are many people who ignore the business dynamics and try to make games that they like, which may not be a financially-sound investment right from the start. A fine balance between the two is very important to succeed in gaming.
What are the top-three books or movies (TV series) that changed your life and why?
- Lone Wolf – This series of “Choose your own adventure” gamebooks got me interested in game design, which inspired me to start creating my own pen & paper games when I was about 8
- Rocky – This series of films made me realize that success is all about always standing up after getting knocked down
- Fire in the Valley – Perhaps the most exciting book about how it all began and was an inspiration for starting my own company
How do you keep yourself motivated every day?
Vincent Low: I usually plan out my week to get motivated; knowing what I will be doing every day brings me closer to my goals. Having breaks to avoid burnout is equally important.
What are the top three life lessons that you want your (future) sons and daughters to know?
- Life is a marathon, not a sprint – Still the best advice I have been given
- We cannot change the cards we are dealt, how we play the hand. – This is especially true when a bad thing happens in life; ultimately, it is our reaction that matters
- Nothing worth having comes easy – They may come easy for some people, but if you want to consistently have what you desire and have it for as long as you like, you most definitely have to work for it
What would you like to be remembered for?
Vincent Low: I would like to be remembered for creating fun and joy in lives through games. I would definitely like the games Potato Play publish to be remembered as classics, much like how Nintendo games are. It’s a bold dream for sure, and we are working towards this.
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