Alumni Entrepreneur Profile of the Month: Matthew Wang '05
Matthew Wang '05 talks about his consulting business, To Be Continued LLC, his work in the gaming industry and setting realistic expectations when starting your business.
1. Tell us about To Be Continued LLC and what makes your consulting services different?
To Be Continued LLC is a NY-based game design consulting company. What makes us different from other game design companies and independent consultants is that we can offer a full suite of game services to our clients from corporate strategy on gaming to the actual manufacture of a game - online or offline.
2. What games/projects has To Be Continued consulted on?
Our high profile projects include the recent Twilight Movie Board Game published by Cardinal Games and the online and offline trading card game, Chaotic, by 4Kids Entertainment. Our future projects include the Twilight New Moon Board Game coming in November, a number of exciting iPhone projects coming before the end of the year and some other exciting secret projects that we cannot talk about right now.
3. What makes you most proud about what you offer?
Personally I am happy that I have created a business around something I love. Only a lucky few are able to combine a passion and their work life together. Business-wise, I am proud that To Be Continued offers such a unique and high quality service in a competitive gaming market.
4. What is a typical day like?
I spend every day balancing and managing existing projects with originating new projects. We have a host of partners and companies that we work with and I spend alot of time trying to connect these pieces with potential clients.
A typical day involves a handful of conference calls, one to two meetings, quick chats and jokes with my game designers and brand managers about projects they are working on, reviewing documents, reading the latest gaming news and answering tons of emails.
5. What have consumers/media said about the To Be Continued?
We were recently nominated for the 2009 Origins Awards for Best Collectible Card Game for our work on Chaotic. The Twilight Board Game has also been a sales success at the major retail chains.
6. What impact has your Columbia MBA education had in the way you approach business today?
The Columbia MBA gave me the confidence to pursue this dream. I worked on Wall Street before attending business school, and to be honest...I was not confident about my business skills. I came to business school to take a break from Wall Street and pursue a career in media. I had no plans to start my own business or do anything entrepreneurial, but during my spring semester an old friend, now my business partner, showed me a rough draft of a business plan that I fell in love with. I decided to clean it up and submit it to the A. Lorne Weil Outrageous Business Plan Competition. We ended up coming in 3rd place.
From then on, I was hooked and started adjusting my plans for the summer and my second year of school around building my business, acquiring the skills to help me build it and networking with people who could lend some aid. The Lang Center and Professor Clifford Schorer's classes (Launching New Ventures and the Greenhouse Program) were invaluable resources to me in terms of knowledge, feedback and inspiration. Without their support, I would not have taken a chance to start To Be Continued.
7. How do you use the internet/social networks to promote your business?
The internet is vital for our business because we do much of work collaboratively and outside of the office. To keep our costs down, we use a network of part-time employees and we manage their work remotely with private wikis (from Adam Frey's '05 Wikispaces) and Google Docs.
8. We are living in an economically challenging time. How is your company weathering? Has the gaming industry been affected?
2007 and 2008 were great years for us, but 2009 has been challenging as our clients have taken a hit. Overall the gaming industry is doing fine and we have been shifting our business to generate more revenue opportunities.
9. Have you observed any changes in the way products/services like yours are marketed in this economy?
It is hard to answer this question because there are not many independent companies that offer our services. One of our largest hurdles is educating potential clients about the services we provide and the value we generate. We have noticed a trend in companies wanting to use outsourced contracters like us to help their brands.
10. How has the Columbia entrepreneurial community supported you?
The community has been tremendously supportive, whether it is just networking, inviting me to speak or connecting To Be Continued with potential clients. I could not ask for anything more.
11. What advice would you give to a graduating Columbia student with entrepreneurial aspirations in this climate?
Set some realistic time goals for yourself and the business, especially if you have a family and / or other obligations. Also, do your research. Make sure there is a viable market for what you are offering. And follow your gut; that is what it is there for.
12. What’s next for To Be Continued LLC?
We plan to continue to offer our game design services and gradually expand building our own game brands and designs.
13. What’s next for Matthew Wang?
Continue to search for new opportunities for To Be Continued, train my employees to eventually generate their own revenue and keep living the entrepreneurial dream.
If anyone wants to talk about games or the game business, feel free to contact me.