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Forget building a company – build products

It’s been 6 months since my partner and I launched Wappworks Studio and now seems like a perfect time to take a good and hard look back at the mistakes made and the lessons learnt. Let me start by stating that we’ve made lots of mistakes. Some  were caused by industry developments such as the re-evaluation of our game client technology. Others were self-inflicted – a result of our  inexperience with “going indie”.  One major mistake was the decision to focus on building a company.

Here are the reasons why.

Reason #1: Product development should always come first

Building up the company before building products is like putting a cart before the horse. If you’re in a startup and you’re looking for contracts, it’s the people who bring value to the table, not the company in and off itself. Instead, pick a company name and proceed as quickly as possible to the down-to-earth task of development.

Reason #2: Socially, no one wants to connect to a company identity

There is no mistaking the importance of social networks to an indie developer. Building a strong personal network is fundamental to being an indie developer. It’s how one forms important relationships with other developers and with the community. It’s also one of the primary conduits for sharing updates and lessons learnt.

Because the company identity (wappworks) was our public persona , it also became our public social network identity. Unfortunately, few people are interesting in following an unknown company identity (and understandably so -  spam, anyone?). Even fewer people are interested in interacting with the company identity on a social and personal level. As a result, it made difficult to really connect with other indie developers.

Reason #3: It limits the type of content we can post/tweet on the corporate site

When we’re blogging/tweeting on behalf of a company, some level of censorship needs to take place – partially for content appropriateness, but mostly for liability. There are many things I’d love to personally share in my blog and tweets – things such as informal daily development updates and/or opinions on recent industry developments but I find myself holding back because it’s the company blog, not my personal blog. As a result, the blogs to date have been more knowledge base posts which has its pluses and its minuses. On the bright side, all our posted articles undergoes rigorous research to ensure that the content is accurate at the time of publishing. On the negative side, writing these posts require substantial research time and effort – that’s time and effort diverted away from the primary goal of product development (which brings this full circle back to Reason #1)


For the past few months, I’ve been focused on product development, hence the dearth of recent articles – it just takes too much time to write articles on behalf of the company for the sake of writing articles on behalf of the company. In the coming weeks, we will be transforming the website to be more developer and product focused. Personally, I’m all excited about being able to share my personal opinions and notes on web development.

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About ChrisK

Chris Khoo cut his teeth on programming writing BASIC programs on a ZX Spectrum back in 1985. Since then, he's graduated to programming on the web and on nearly all the game consoles released since the mid-90's. Chris remains an active member of the software industry and is currently operating as indie developer and founder of Wappworks Studio.
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