Lina Chen, co-founder of Nix Hydra, uncovered lessons learned after raising money through angel and VC funding during her session at Casual Connect USA 2014. She advised the audience, “You must build a company, not just make games.”
Chen is currently playing the company’s first game, Egg Baby. In this game, a virtual pet egg lives in your phone, tablet, or iPod Touch and hatches into different creatures, depending on how you raise it. She claims to be obsessed with looking at other people’s eggs in the newly introduced Eggverse. This is the world all the players’ egg babies inhabit. She is also enjoying Knightmare Tower, a game from the people behind Burrito Bison, one of her all-time favorite games. For a while, she was enjoying Disco Zoo, but has recently stopped playing it.
Her favorite platform for play is definitely mobile because it is the most convenient as it is always with her and no setup is required. And most games are free to try. However, she won’t say whether she prefers iOS or Android. Someone from Google or Apple might stumble over her answer! But she has an iPhone, so most of her games are played on that.
Fascinated by Fun
Chen is fascinated by all the fun, made-up things people obsess over. Gaming is one of those things. Although she started in the television industry, she and co-founder Naomi Ladizinsky, noticed that the gaming industry was made up of many developers who were coming from the same perspective, which the two of them didn’t identify with. So they decided to make their own games.
The amazing and really fun part of being in the games industry is making the games they want to play. And, Chen says, “Throwing egg puns around in the office is pretty awesome, too.”
Nix Hydra does not yet quite match up to the Nix Hydra in her head, so she continues in the games industry to work at it. But if she could not be in this industry, she would certainly be doing something else that is fun: media, entertainment, or possibly fashion.
Ensuring People & Money
As co-founder and CEO of Nix Hydra, it is Chen’s responsibility to made sure they have the people and money they need at all times and that they are constantly moving toward the ultimate vision for the company. She admits that her past experience had not fully prepared her for this position, but she has the type of personality and the level of interest that acts as a buffer for the terrible things that happen when you are not prepared.
The proudest moment in Chen’s career came in their latest round of VC financing, when they raised $5 million. She says, “The actual raising of the money isn’t that much of an achievement, but given where we had started, the fact that we were in a good enough place to raise money is something I’m proud of.” They started this journey with no credibility, contacts in, or knowledge of the gaming, tech, or startup industries, but sheer force of will has allowed them to reach this point.
Chen states that they are going after the overlooked market of young women. She suspects more people will become interested in this market in the next few years; this will be a double-edged sword for them. Along with hat market, she believes more can be done with interactive storytelling on mobile, so Nix Hydra is looking into that as well.
Catherine Quinton is a staff writer for www.gamesauce.org. Catherine loves her hobby farm, long walks in the country and reading great novels.