Our First Year in the Capital
What happened at Kolibri Games in 2018?
Our “One Year in Berlin” anniversary is approaching, so we’d like to take a moment to review the most important events of our first year in the German capital…
When we decided to move our mobile games company from Karlsruhe to Berlin in January 2018, we were in kind of a “now or never” situation. We had grown rapidly within only a few months and knew that if we waited only a few more (and grow further), we would risk losing a significant part of the team in the process.
Moving can be a huge inconvenience. Everything has to be planned thoroughly — from logistics to clearing out the old and setting up new accommodation. Looking back, we are happy we seized the opportunity. Dealing with all the challenges connected to the move paid off, and our company wouldn’t be where it is today if we hadn’t taken on that challenge.
In December 2017, our office in the city center of Karlsruhe had become too small for our team that had already grown to 35. The city had been an ideal environment to found our company in: The KIT (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology) provided us with excellently educated and eager graduates while the city’s ICT industry platform, the “Cyberforum”, as well as the local games industry, offered advice and guidance.
At some point, however, we realized that in order to expand our team to meet the increasing demand by our players, we needed a change of environment — so we made the pretty obvious choice to move to what is one of the most creative and dynamic cities in Europe: the German capital, Berlin.
Now or never?
We went for “now” and seized the opportunity at the right moment. We had to bid goodbye to only two team members who couldn’t leave Karlsruhe and the remaining 35 packed their bags and came with us to Berlin. Of course, we made sure to help everyone with finding a new home in the city (easier said than done, anyone who has ever come in contact with the Berlin housing market can confirm). Looking back, we can say with confidence that moving to Berlin was a pivotal step for the growth of our company and one of the best decisions we have made along the way — and since our “one year in Berlin” anniversary is approaching, we want to sum up the most important events of 2018. Oh, what a year it has been…
In January we packed our bags and moved from Karlsruhe to Berlin — first into a shared office space, for a transition period, while our own office was still being renovated. After the renovations were completed, we moved into our new office on the 16th floor of the X-Berg Tower in Berlin-Kreuzberg. We were growing rapidly and the demand from our players for content or improvements to our game Idle Miner Tycoon was increasing, so we were looking for dedicated people to join our team. Berlin — the international and creative hub that it is — helped us to quickly make new friends and, as we were now getting five times as many applications, fill our open positions much faster.
In (and around) our new office, and with a lot of new faces, we took our first group photo in Berlin. The photo made us realize how quickly we had actually grown (fitting 48 people in one frame was quite a challenge). Although it was outdated relatively quickly because our team kept expanding, it represented us well for a long time: we proudly displayed it on our website and it was used in news articles about our success story. Shortly after having settled in, the local press welcomed us: the Berlin newspaper B.Z. paid us a visit and interviewed our CEOs about Kolibri’s early days and our move to the capital.
In March, we inaugurated our office (and kicked off what would become a series of legendary parties) with our “Office Warming Party”. By that time, the team had settled in and we had already made some friends in our new home — what better way to celebrate the successful move, and to show that we take “work hard, (occasionally) play hard” very seriously?
We had learned so much in the process of making Idle Miner Tycoon and were eager to put all these learnings to the test — so in April we released our second game Idle Factory Tycoon. We repeated what had worked well the last time — creating a prototype for an idle game in a short amount of time and improving it based on player feedback — and added a variety of new features and mechanics that manage to fit strategic components and complex decision making into an otherwise casual title. Releasing a second game also meant that we had to fundamentally rethink our structures to adequately suit the work on two titles at the same time: how are we going to split the teams, and what effect will that division have on our company? In the same month, Red Herring placed us among the Top 100 fastest growing startups in Europe, which was a sign for us that we were going the right way and gave us the confidence we needed to move forward despite these changes.
We had just released our second game and were more than delighted that Idle Factory Tycoon hit the 5 Million download mark only a month after its release. The numbers gave us confidence and confirmed that we were going in the right direction. On top of that (and much more importantly), we reached the “10.000 cups of coffee” milestone already in May — a record that we will surely beat this year, considering the enormous amount of coffee-drinking reinforcements we have added since then.
50 Million — take all the inhabitants of Norway, Switzerland, Portugal and Australia combined and that’s the number you will end up with. When both of our games combined hit the 50 Million download mark in August, it was kind of surreal and hard for us to imagine that so many around the world had downloaded our games. Reaching that milestone was a good reason for us to invite all our friends over to the office again, for our “50 Million Downloads Party”.
We had worked exceptionally hard the past months and decided that it was time to reward ourselves and refuel our batteries — and what better way to do so than at the beach in the sun? We took the whole team on a four-day trip to the Spanish island Tenerife. Despite the relaxation and good food, we used the occasion to reflect on our company values and to strengthen the bonds in our team. Within only half a year we had almost doubled in size and this trip provided the perfect chance for new hires to properly meet the rest of our team.
In October, we took one of our biggest steps yet: we rebranded to Kolibri Games. “Fluffy Fairy Games” had served us very well — the name was friendly, approachable and unique at the same time. We aim to make games for absolutely everyone and the name perfectly reflected that. Nevertheless, it was time for a change. We had become a serious contender in the gaming industry, with a team of over 80 and two games played by millions across the globe. We needed a name that better reflected the kind of company that we are and that we aspire to be — and so Fluffy Fairies evolved into Kolibris. Our new name perfectly summarizes what we are: agile, lean and fast moving. Of course, we invited all our friends and celebrated the occasion in style with our “New Colors Party”. On top of that, Red Herring placed us among the Top 100 fastest growing startups, but this time across the whole globe — what a way to get our new name out there!
Remember that group photo we took in February? We had added over 40 new faces to our team since then, so it really was about time for a new, updated one. Because we are still growing and adding faces every month, we decided to take these much more often — so look out for an update once in a while! In addition, Deloitte awarded us with the first place in the “Rising Stars” category of the Technology Fast 50 award. We were able to secure the spot with a revenue growth of over 2000%, calculated on the basis of the past two years — a wonderful recognition of our hard work.
In 2017, we celebrated Christmas at a restaurant — we all still fit around one large table. For 2018, we stepped up our Christmas party game with our own location, just for Kolibris and their partners. We celebrated the achievements of the past year with a night full of drinks and good food. Some went home with small goodies (like a new TV) and others with really awesome gifts (like a unicorn jumpsuit).
Looking back, 2018 has been a wild ride for us. In our first year in Berlin, we doubled in size, made countless new friends, released a second game and changed our name. Seeing that players around the world enjoy our games is the best possible reward for all our hard work and motivates us to work even harder in the year to come. We are not planning on slowing down anytime soon, so stay tuned and see what Kolibri Games has planned for you in 2019.
Thanks for reading! If you found this valuable, please 👏 . Also, feel free to reach out on LinkedIn.