Posted by Javid Shamloo | Posted on August 1st, 2015 at 11:04 pm
Hello everyone, my name is Javid Shamloo and I am the founder of Homicidal Rabbit. I did my first post almost three years ago, and people seemed to really enjoy it, but have not posted anything since. That’s not to say that nothing has happened in those three years. In fact, a massive amount of stuff has happened. The reason for the lack of posts is that not much has happened with regards to the Homicidal Rabbit name. Let me explain and clarify…from the beginning.
About eight years ago I started talking to a college friend of mine about starting a software business. Mind you that it wasn’t my idea to start a software business, it was his. What I honestly wanted to do was to get a low-to-mid level job working in the game industry and slowly work my way up to a great company like Valve or id software (you can see how old my dream was). Eventually, my journey led me to FIEA, a school that offered a Master’s program for Interactive Entertainment…videogames basically. I spent a semester in that school, and saw the complete desecration of everything that I held dear when it came to games and the game industry. I quit after just one semester, and looking back 6 years later it was honestly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. I quietly enrolled into the Computer Science Master’s program the next semester and got my Master’s Degree in Computer Science from UCF in 2011.
Now, however, I was faced with what to do with the rest of my life. My same friend was still very enthusiastic about starting a game company. I, however, was unsure. I had never owned my own business before, and had no idea how to run a business. I also didn’t think it was something that was common, and didn’t know if it could turn successful enough to sustain a reasonable living. My business partner showed me how wrong I was. He pointed to the app stores where iOS and Android developers were putting their wares up, and how some of them earned at least enough money to make a decent living. He showed me the whole indie games scene, and how indie game developers were leaving big companies like Microsoft, EA, and Activision to start their own small game companies and develop and publish their own titles, some of which came out fantastic and did remarkably well commercially and critically. He showed me Indie Game: The Movie, and the struggle but eventual success of doing great indie games.
I also started to see a lot of other stories of people starting their own businesses, outside of the technology sphere. I read how nowadays a full-time job for a big corporation was as shaky and un-secure as ever, and how more and more people were bravely taking their fate into their own hands and going off on their own to either contract themselves out under their own companies, Me, Inc. you could call it, or were developing products themselves to sell digitally, with little overhead and cost. In 2012, the time never seemed better to start your own business. My friend had convinced me…I was onboard.
We started Homicidal Rabbit in 2012. The idea was to make our own games to sell digitally on stores like Steam and the Apple App Store. First things first, I thought, I had to learn how to create and run a business. There’s a lot of knowledge that one must have in order to start and run a business, even if it isn’t successful, just to keep it open. I spent the next year and a half reading as many books, articles, and talking to as many people who had their own business as I could…all while working a full-time job. Remember, I went to school for Computer Science, not business. I didn’t want to start a business without knowing at least the basics of what that would entail. After a year and a half I felt confident enough to at least take the first step. My business partner and I had been talking about going off on our own for about 6 years now. It was time to put up or shut up.
I got a lawyer to draw up all the necessary paperwork needed to start an LLC, got an accountant to advise and do everything financially related to our business, got bankers to help us set up bank accounts to put the money in, when it came, and I started getting together a team of people to help us create our products, like artists, graphic designers, UI specialists, musicians, etc. My partner came to me enthusiastically with two ideas for apps that he wanted to do. He informed me that these apps were very simple yet very useful to people, and would get us off on the right foot in terms of seeing how releasing actual products into the marketplace would look like. He termed them “test apps.” “Ok”, I said, “That sounds great. Let’s do it.” So off we were.
Now, there is a lot more to running a company than just making the product. There are also things like marketing, setting up a social media presence by creating websites, keeping a Facebook page, etc., and keeping a business above ground by making sure everything is legal (all the contracts are properly constructed and signed), the accounting is kept up-to-date and things like taxes are filed properly, everyone on the team is kept on task, and planning for the future is taking place for things like product updates and scaling the business itself. There are a lot more things that I haven’t mentioned, but you get the idea. I was working 80-hour weeks, every week.
We decided that we would first release our two “test apps”, one at a time, on the Apple App Store for all iOS devices, then port them over to the Android environment and sell them on Google Play. Now, I didn’t have a MacBook to develop our products on, my business partner did. So, I couldn’t do any product development on the apps. However, there was still so much to get done to start our business up that I poured myself into doing the rest of the work. I created the websites (with no web-design experience), took care of all the legal, accounting, and banking obligations of our company, found us artists, UI designers, and photographers to help us develop our app and design a marketing campaign for it, and made countless design documents for the apps under development, as well as tested them. I might not have had a MacBook to do the development, but I did have a slew of iOS devices to test them on. I also did miscellaneous work like make the tutorial screens for the apps, and give important mockups of all the menus that dictated the menu flow and user experience of the app.
After all of this work, our first app was completed. It wasn’t completely done, but was good enough to put on the app store and be updated monthly in the future. However, we had a problem. The app, and the one after it, was made to be used by everyone, kids included. We also had a lot of other ideas for casual games and games for kids, and were also being contracted to do work for clients who needed software for their respective businesses. It was not wise to put all of these endeavors under the Homicidal Rabbit name. Let’s face it, no mom would ever buy a kids game for their beloved child that was made by a company called Homicidal Rabbit, and had a bunny with blood on its mouth as their logo. So, I created another company name where we could conduct business, make our casual and kid-friendly apps and games, and do contract work under. The name of that company was Lumialis. However, we still wanted to keep the Homicidal Rabbit name for our teen and mature games. So, we split our business in two, so we wouldn’t be restricted to developing only one group of products and could have the flexibility to do whatever we wanted. This is the reason I haven’t been using the Homicidal Rabbit name so much, because all of my work so far has been under the Lumialis name.
My partner and I were very happy when our first product was released, but I noticed changes in him long before that. He would keep things from me, and then blow up in my face when the pressure boiled him over. I was always very open and immediate with him on everything concerning our business. We had signed an operating agreement to be 50-50 owners of the company, and that meant that we each had to do 50% of the work and let the other partner know what was going on at all times. I never did or said anything behind his back, and that was not reciprocated. I also did much more than 50% of the work and was putting myself in dire financial straits in order to see our company at least start to take off. My business partner did not put in the other 50% of the effort, period. No matter what the reason was, the work on his end wasn’t getting done. He first told me enthusiastically that the two apps would each take only months to complete; one of them was two years into development and was still nowhere near being done. He would take two, three, sometimes four weeks at a time to send me builds. He would forget things very close to deadlines like putting the new color designs into the app, the day before it was about to ship. He became unwieldy and unreliable. He changed. This wasn’t the same enthusiastic person I knew all those many years ago.
Then came the bombshell. He did something behind my back that came to my attention, to the anger of someone who we were working with, someone who still owed us thousands of dollars. I woke up one morning to three missed calls, two voicemails and three texts. I called back confused, and they told me what my business partner did. I called my business partner in order to see if it was true, and why he did not consult with me when talking about our business and went behind my back to do what he did. He didn’t give me an acceptable answer. I was righteously angry. But, I decided to forgive him. For three whole days and nights I tried to get in contact with him in order to forgive him so we could move on, because we still had many updates left to finish that we were desperately behind on. He did not respond to any of my attempts at contact. For three whole days I couldn’t get ahold of my own business partner. Then, on the fourth day we had a Skype meeting and he blindsided me with his resignation. It was one of the worst moments of my life. I couldn’t believe that someone I trusted and cared so much about, someone who I followed and busted my ass for, to start up a company that he wanted, could just leave me like that. When it came time to walk the walk, he didn’t do it. For whatever his reasons were.
Now, I am by myself. I’ve learned a lot of lessons from this whole process. One of the lessons that I would like to share to anyone thinking about starting a business with someone is to start small. Don’t drink the other person’s Kool Aid and make a whole company with three bank accounts, an operating agreement with IP ownership transfers or any of that shit. Just get one bank account, work with the person on something small to completion, see how they act under pressure and how they communicate with you during the whole process, and then decide whether or not you want to do something bigger with this person. Don’t believe that person’s words when they say they can develop this super quick and do that super well. Actions speak louder than words. You yourself also need to prove to your partner that you can uphold your end and work hard as well, and produce results that are beyond great. Most of all, you need to see if you can work with your partner through the good times and bad, and if they are someone who has the mental capacity to start and maintain a business, regardless of if they are a good developer or not. They need to be well-rounded, as much as possible.
When my business partner left he dumped years of development efforts and code into my lap. I am now in charge of keeping this whole thing running on my own. I hadn’t developed anything in over two years, besides the websites, because I was doing everything else to start the business up and keep it running, and was really trying to take care of everything so my business partner could do a great development job in peace. That didn’t happen. So, I now have no choice but to start developing again, which I am actually very enthusiastic about because that’s what I wanted to do anyway, but got so caught up in running a business that I literally didn’t have time to. After my business partner left, I ended up learning in three months what would take most developers two to three years to learn, and I still have some more learning to do. On top of that, I am going through all the code that got dumped on my head, thousands of lines of it, and am improving it and continuing the work. I also have started to look for another developer to replace my partner, which is hard. As much as I didn’t like the way my partner treated me and came up short on his tasks, he was still a fantastic developer and designer, and filling his shoes is going to be hard. But, I can’t do all the development by myself. The projects I have in store are too big.
I also am in the process of finding a full-time job myself, as I put all my money into my business and didn’t earn nearly enough to sustain myself in any shape or form, because it never got a chance to take off. No one can run a business by themselves, and if the other person doesn’t work as hard as they do, which was my case, then the whole thing falls apart. Now, I need to start earning income in order to survive, fund my company’s projects, and pay the people who work on them (after I find and build a great team of people I can actually trust, of course). This is all going to take time, and I have already spent so much. However, I will not give up. It might take years before anything starts to happen, but it will happen one day…that I am sure of. Also, since I have a Master’s degree in Computer Science and my list of skills and job experience is through the roof, I can get a pretty decent job and make a very good income. So, all in all, I can’t complain too much. However, it still breaks my heart to see other development teams release great products on the App Store or Steam. Don’t get it twisted; I’m not jealous of them. They’ve worked very hard on their products and deserve all the recognition and money they get (I myself have paid very happily for their products). What kills me is that I want to contribute too, and I can’t. I have to wait, and work, more.
However, I don’t wanna leave the Homicidal Rabbit name just sitting in the dust. As I’ve stated before, all of my work right now is going to my other software company, Lumialis, but I am going to be doing a lot of blogging on this website and giving exclusive bits of info here that you can’t get at Lumialis. I’ll also be giving out free stuff here like promo codes and exclusive content. So, if you guys are ready to have some fun, then let’s get down to business.
You can follow me on Twitter at @HR_Javid. The official Twitter of Homicidal Rabbit is @HomicidalRabbit. Our Facebook page and all of the other social media links can be found on the top right of this website. If you wanna follow me and connect for any reason I’ll be more than happy to chat. I will try to blog every 1-2 weeks, so stay tuned to see what I’ve got to say next!
Be safe everyone, and I’ll talk with you again soon!