MandE: Welcome Narasimha Reddy, founder - Dumadu Games to the interview. Dumadu is nearly a year old company operating in the space of gaming across various platforms.
Narasimha, It would be great to begin the interview with a brief background about yourself and then let us know how the company and how has grown this far.
Narasimha: Thank you, I am Narasimha, I completed my engineering in 2003, and began my career in Tata Elexi. Then I joined EFI, worked two years before starting my own company. I worked along with a partner setting up the company for three year and then began this company called Dumadu. Dumadu is into computer gaming.
MandE: Dumadu is an year old company right! How did you envision the idea of Dumadu as gaming company? Why did you start it off? How did the idea strike you?
Narasimha: While with working on iPhone, we realized that it is the best platform for the gaming, so we felt that mobile gaming is going to boom, that how we started a gaming company separately - That how Dumadu started.
MandE: When you started off Dumadu you are looking at two fold challenge I understand.
- One, mobile application development on mobile was just about maturing
- Two, the gaming industry in India was primarily flooded with flash games – mobiles gaming wasn’t really a great industry to get into.
Could you highlight the challenges you faced in when you began?
Narasimha : The biggest challenge was the lack of experienced resources. When I looked for game developers with more than three to four years of experience, I couldn’t find many people. There were very few developers mostly on desktop gaming and not on mobiles. So that is the big challenge.
We solved this problem by, recruiting freshers, training them and placing them as developers in our company.
The current challenge that we face is – finding people who can conceptualize the game. In this case too, we are selecting freshers, training them and getting them to prepare specifications and develop games.
These are the biggest challenges we had.
MandE: Since you began recruiting freshers and training them, the training costs would be pretty high. Is this just the case since you are one of the early entrants into the field in India or is it the way the industry is?
Narasimha: Yes, there is a cost in training these people; the turnaround time would be long. We cannot expect them to be productive in the first six to seven months. This involves both time and money!
MandE: Creating a team for designing the complete game is difficult – it involves elaborate process of game design, create the story board, the characters, etc and then go ahead and implement the game. Finding good game developers and Designers as you said is a challenge, so how did you go ahead forming the team?
Narasimha: When we started off, we didn’t begin with big games – we began with casual games. These did not require many specifications etc, as we have gained experience, we are slowly adding in more experienced people and also building bigger games.
MandE: You looked at this opportunity in the mobile gaming space, and entered into it. What were the kinds of games that actually on iPhone app-store or Android app store, how has it changed over the last one year?
Narasimha: The trend changes every six months, in this space changes everything. When we started the trend was towards paid applications, now there are ads in applications, then the trend was towards web service and in-app purchases. The trend we are adopting is more or less the same. Most of the games we are developing have web service, and we are not expecting any revenues from paid applications. Most of our revenues are coming from In-app Purchases and Ads.
MandE: Could you elaborate on the way the games have changed, rather than generic applications?
Narasimha: Casual games have always remained. In the last six to seven month we have seen lots of companies coming up with social game. Now the trend is more of social games and games with virtual money.
MandE: how has the team size grown over the last 6 months of operations?
Narasimha: When we started the team size was 20, now have reached 80.
MandE: A scaling up 4 times in an year, impressive! What were the challenges in terms of people that you faced?
Narasimha: The biggest challenge is attrition. The market is very good for game developers and India does not have many game developers too, so it is hard to retain people. That’s a big challenge!
MandE: Given your growth in number of people and of the kind of products your visibility would have increased. Did you look for any funding to actually scale up?
Narasimha: We have been approached by many VCs but we are not willing to take funding now. Probably in another 6 to 7 months when we are organized well. I do not consider my company too well organized. If we are organized in the current way, it would be extremely hard to scale, so when we have organized ourselves better, I would look for funding – I am expecting this to take around 6 months.
MandE: When you have scaled from 20-80 people with the span of nearly one year, you would definitely have some challenges in the kind people you are looking for. What is it that you essentially look for in somebody while being recruited?
Narasimha: When we recruited a fresher, we look for the aptitude of the candidate, and obviously the attitude. These we feel are extremely important to be looked into.
MandE: When you said attitude, what is it that you are looking for?
Narasimha: When you say attitude, one must have an interest to learn, should be willing to stick to a company for long time and hard work.
MandE: Could you share with us, the vision you have about the company for its future?
Narasimha: In the beginning, we struggled for some time for revenues to generate. Even at this stage we looked at doing only products, we didn’t intent to get into services at all. I see the market has been pretty good.
The second aspect is the development cost – in India the cost is almost 1/4th or 1/5th of what it is in the US. The place where both of us – the Indian companies and the US companies promote is the same. So it translates to saying that our cost is lesser but the market is the same – So we are able to realize the huge potential in terms of revenue for our products and we would stick to it.
MandE: Did you consider a model where in you create a brand name, and market your products. At a later date you could focus on just doing the marketing and branding while outsourcing the development to someone else or even entertaining freelancers approach you?
Narasimha: No, we are not looking for that model.
At the moment, the place where we lack is in making good specifications - Specify the game. We are looking for the model where we tie up with a company that do the specifications and we develop the game and market it. We share the revenues with the company. That is the model we are looking at.
MandE: It is interesting model where you complement your weakness with someone elses strength and look at a win win situation.
Given that gaming is such a dynamic field, where do you want to see Dumadu in the next couple of years?
Narasimha: If we look at the number of games published on the app-store, we have published more games than any other company in India. Going forward into the next 2 years, we are looking at creating larger number of social games. We want to change our portfolio to social games from casual games.
MandE: Do you have larger vision as to what you want to do with Dumadu Games?
Narasimha: No, I don’t have any such large vision for Dumadu Games.
MandE: What is your message to the aspiring Entrepreneurs?
Narasimha: Right now the market is too good -especially, when mobile applications are concerned. If one wants to be an entrepreneur, they have lots of opportunity.
MandE: Is there any set of dos and donts that you would like to give the entrepreneurs?
Narasimha: The market is too good and I would welcome more entrepreneurs to this world.
When you are confident about your capabilities, it’s always better to try.
When I ask someone why they don’t start a company if they are confident about their idea, they say – they aren’t confident about its success. They constantly think about the financial status.
If I am confident about my capacities, I should be ready to leave the job and try the venture out – Its always easy to get a job, it is not really that hard. If you have tried for an year and haven’t succeeded, what you lose is one year’s salary. You can get back any time.
MandE: When you began your journey as entrepreneur, how difficult or easy was it to convince the people back home?
Narasimha: I never said anything about my job or company back home, they were thinking that I was still working for nearly two years after having started off. I conveyed I had resigned only after two years after starting off.
MandE: Do you think it is a good idea for other people to follow?
Narasimha: I wasn’t confident that my parent would allow me to do so, so I adopted this approach not sure if it would work for others.
MandE: Now that they know you have started off, how is the support at home?
Narasimha: It been pretty well now.
MandE: Any challenges you personally front with the long working hours? How about the work and life balance that people talk about?
Narasimha: I wouldn’t say that we require working too hard. It is ok if you work as much as you work for an employer company, it’s perfectly fine. You don’t need to work too hard.
MandE: Thank you, for coming on to the interview.