The Lessons Learned Being Stuck at Sea

As the CEO of Atheris Games I have encountered a plethora of challenges that have stood in the way of my dream to develop a board game company. I have been tested time and time again. However, our most recent setback is quite likely the largest and most disasterous. And it is all because of the mess that is international shipping and the Hanjin bankruptcy.

We took out a loan for inventory of our first game, Cul-De-Sac Conquest, and then almost immediately there afterwards found that our inventory was stuck at sea. We’re now scrambling to find alternatives to the revenue we were expecting in order to fund our loan payments. Though, through all this uncertainty and struggle we have learned a few things that we think are note worthy. We’re here to share some knowledge with you.

  1. Value Your Employees/Contractors
  2. Provide the Ultimate Customer Experience
  3. Never Forget Why You Started

Value Your Employees/Contractors

Often people say they treat their employees right. However, seldom to businesses actually focus on making their company the best place to work. It is infrequent that companies show employees they value them and appreciate their loyalty.

Therefore, when a company does go above and beyond for employees/contractors than those employees will go above and beyond for the company.

In our situation we don’t have the capital to pay our artists, Allan and Sebastian, up-front, but we need another game to be developed in order to secure additional revenue while we wait for Hanjin to figure out how to port their ships.

While most artists would cringe at the mere thought of working without initial payment our artists agreed to work quicker, and didn’t want to ask for payment if it would hurt our company. They believe in our ability to propel the company even further and they want to grow with us - working together for years to come. They see the vision and they are as passionate about seeing it to fruition as I am.

I am so proud of these guys. However, I don’t think this would have been possible if I had not done everything in my power to make them happy while we worked on our first game, Cul-De-Sac Conquest. I allowed them to express their artistic freedom and took their suggestions to heart. I made sure they knew how valued they were and now when we need help they have been there for us.

Provide the Ultimate Customer Experience

A lot of companies will do the bare minimum in terms of satisfying their customers. Though, I once worked for New Scooters 4 Less, and their sole purpose as a company seems to be making sure that their customers are 100% satisfied with every single interaction with them.

It is not easy to always do the right thing, especially when revenues are clearly immediately negatively affected by it. However, it is crucial to always realize customers for what they are — the lifeblood of your business. Without customers you’re not a business. Treat them like gold.

For us we let our customers know about everything going on in the company. On our Kickstarter we posted frequent, long and interesting updates filled with GIFs and information about where we were. We made sure our Kickstarter backers felt like they are part of the company — customers are indeed an intregal part of the company, after-all. We also sent each backer stickers and thank you cards showing our sincere gratitude for their support, and we added extra cards to the game & expansion.

For some backers, we have lost money due to this and other avenues in which we shared our appreciation. We wouldn’t change it though. These few ‘extra’ things we did to go above and beyond in our customer’s eyes have made them appreciate us more. As we have been struggling with this issue our customers have been nothing but supportive. A majority agreed to support a GoFundMe, and/or pledge to another Kickstarter even if the game were not fully developed simply to help us.

Never Forget Why You Started

When the going gets rough it is crucial to realize why you’re here in the first place. You need to recall your vision. You also need to think about how you might avoid these sort of situations in the future and reflect on what positives can come out of it.

Why did you start this company?

Stay positive, but be realistic. Plan for the worst. Plans are key. Make sure you know what direction you’re going to take and how you’ll react to any sudden changes in your business.


You’re going to run into challenges. Such is business. Some of those challenges won’t be your fault and will be completely out of your control. However, if you treat your employees and customers right you’ll put your business in a better situation to solve any potential disastrous situations. Whenever you’re encountered with problems remember why you started and work to put a plan together to solve it. Complaining about it won’t do anything. Find a solution. Plan.

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