SL #44: Marshall Seese / Mowgli Games

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Welcome to SL #44! Yes, we know.  It has been two and half years since our last podcast.  Well, the hiatus is over … we’re back!  The other day, we sat down with Marshall Seese, founder of Mowgli Games, and had an awesome chat.  Among the many things we discussed were Mowgli’s inaugural social game (Songster), their experience in raising over $500K in angel funding here in Atlanta, and how Facebook has become a strong enabler for game developers.

"Be able to explain why it needs to be social."

“In the social gaming space, the best advice I can give, is be able to explain why it needs to be social. Be careful not to just throw “social” in there because you think it needs to be social. Really analyze why it needs to be social, then nail that piece of it. It sounds easy, but it isn’t.”
-Marshall Seese

In celebration of our return to podcasting, we dug up a vintage version of the intro to the podcast.  Enjoy!  As an added bonus, we play a bit of a song that Scott made with Mowgli’s product, Songster (cover your ears!).  Also, and even better, we filled the break with Home, the latest single from Marshall’s latest CD – a killer tune!  Be sure to try and catch Marshall Seese and the Abandoned at a gig near you …

Oh yeah, the bus is back, too! Predatory service providers go under the bus in the return of one of our more popular segments of the show.

Sponsors for this episode:

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Shownotes and Interview Questions:

As usual, we had lots of related follow-up questions and side discussions, but here is a good sampling of the questions we asked on the show:

  • How close were your assumptions in the business model with respect to user growth?
  • Give us your 30 second elevator pitch – what is Mowgli Games all about?
  • Can you tell us the inspiration for Songster? What led you to the concept?
  • When we last spoke, the product had recently launched into a Beta state and had some initial success. How has the product been received?
  • How close were your user adoption assumptions in your business plan?
  • Tell us a cool user/customer story.
  • You raised $500K, primarily from local angel investors – which don’t have a tangible track record in investing in social gaming companies. Can you describe that process to our listeners? How did it all come about?
  • What do you think convinced the investors to financially commit to Mowgli?
  • What surprised you most about the fundraising process?
  • Did you ever consider raising money from other places, such as Silicon Valley, Boston, or NY?
  • What was the strangest question asked of you by an investor?
  • How did your background as an attorney factor in your initial funding success, especially here in Atlanta?
  • Did Atlanta’s relatively strong music and entertainment community have an impact on Mowgli’s early efforts with raising capital and getting the product out the door?
  • Will you have to raise additional money? If so, what do you think that will be like?
  • Some people say that Atlanta is lacking in the talent department – specifically management talent for developing emerging ventures. Is the talent available in Atlanta for Mowgli to keep growing and stay here?
  • Could you have bootstrapped this business further?
  • Have any community entities been significantly helpful to Mowgli and if so, how?
  • What are your thoughts on Facebook, their IPO, and any possible ramifications that it might have for companies like Mowgli?
  • How easy, or difficult, does Facebook make the experience for developers?
  • What advice do you have for entrepreneurs who are launching startups in the social gaming space?
  • If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
  • What’s next for Songster and Mowgli?

Show Segments:

Our format is a little out of the norm as far as podcasts go. We treat our efforts as a true “show” rather than a super-concise (limited) vehicle for delivery of information. Therefore, the podcasts can run a bit long (actually, it is largely driven by the guests and their responses.) While we try to have very substantive discussions, we also try to have a lot of fun along the way (and that tends to elongate the programming a wee bit.) :) Our theory is that if we are having fun during the show, hopefully, you will be having a little fun listening as well.

And if you still think our shows are too long, frankly, we just don’t care. And we mean that in the most loving way possible. Truly.

Here is the breakdown for the show, in case you want to hop around.

Segment Starts At:
Intro: 00:00
Opening Dialog: 01:20
Under the Bus: 07:45
StartupLounge Mailbag: 11:25
Variety/Comedy/Hmm… Break: 17:25
Main Discussion Topic: 21:40
Wrap-up/Analysis 58:00

Guest Bio:

Marshall Seese, Founder, Mowgli Games

Marshall is an experienced entrepreneur with a background in music, technology, and law. He earned a JD from the University of Michigan, and opened his own law firm, BCLS Legal only two years after graduation. In late 2008, Marshall sold his stake in BCLS and joined North Highland as their General Counsel. In addition to his legal career, Marshall has launched a number of small businesses and is an experienced musician with a recording agreement through Backspace Records.

Miscellany:

Enjoy! To play it, use the tools at the top of this post – you can play it via the embedded Flash player by pressing the big play button at the top, or download it to play on your computer or MP3 player. You can also take advantage of our iTunes feed.

Personalities and companies mentioned in this podcast:

  • Mark Zuckerburg, Facebook
  • Gordon Rogers, 151 Locust
  • Mike Eckert, Atlanta Technology Angels
  • Sig Mosley, CTW Venture Partners
  • Rob Kischuk, Badgy
  • Zynga

Podsafe music used within this episode:

  • The Sundial by Bill deRome
  • All the Money in the World by Hutch

Music used with permission within this episode:

  • Home by Marshall Seese

A special thanks to Marshall for coming in and hanging out with us!

We welcome your continued feedback as well! If you have an interest in appearing on the show, becoming a show sponsor (hint, hint), have some suggestions for topics, have feedback, or would just like to email us and tell us to “shove off”, we invite you to contact us.

Enjoy!

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