"Seeking $1M investment". Belarusians score App Store listing with their Sparkle Piglet buzz-worthy game
7tam, a Startup with Belarusian Roots. In 2021, Stan Molchanov and Andrew Tsvetkov, startup founders and university friends, released their first game, Sparkle Piglet. They launched the project with their own money. It won Game of the Day award in the UK. Here’s the story of the startup, the team and the plans for the future.
Stan and Andrew first started discussing the idea of founding a startup back in 2017. It was at the end of their university studies. They had neither business expertise, nor capital, but instead, plenty of gaming experience and just as much enthusiasm.
«Stan and I hung out a lot and played a lot together at the university. Stan was into shooters, most of all Point Blank, while I preferred RPGs, especially Perfect World. I feel like when you play games, you invariably think about what you would want that game to look like, what you would change. And sooner or later, you come to the point where you’re ready to create something of your own,» says Andrew.
It took them two years to refine the idea, talk it over, and accumulate startup capital. While still at the uni, Stan and Andrew took on outsourced projects and managed to save up enough money to start a company.
They spent the first six months working on the business part, generating ideas and making prototypes, still coding for outsource partners.
«We provided design, management, and software development services for our clients. Then we decided to turn those same clients into the first clients of our startup. To invest income in recruiting talents for our first product,» Stan recalls.
The newly recruited developers were working through the first ideas; at the same time, Stan and Andrew switched to product management, game design, and the business part, and were also engaged in development.
The first idea that made it to the whiteboard was a game with the test name Arcame. Its direct competitor was Subway Surfers.
«In this game, the character runs on top of the trains, but in our case, it was a sphere as a form of life. The character was supposed to travel around spherical planet-objects and stars, terraforming them, thereby revitalizing more and more of them. In addition, we wanted to make a multiplayer story: it’s not just you who terraforms the planet, but other players as well. And the longer you and the other gamers run, the more the planet gets populated. It’s even hard to explain, let alone implement,» admits Andrew.
Animation, development, multiplayer version — all these entailed huge costs, including server maintenance.
«So we decided to drop it. But working on it, we figured out how to create a game in general, learned how to upload it to the App Store and Google Play and how to incorporate analytics and monetization tools. This was a test project which we have put on the back burner, and which will probably come back at some point.»
Sparkle Piglet: Idea and Realization
The first product by 7tam, Sparkle Piglet, is a story-driven adventure RPG. A piglet tries to escape from the farm and faces numerous obstacles in its way. The game is targeted at users from the age of four and is available in 11 languages.
Sparkle Piglet made it straight to the New Games We Love collection. The App Store UK wrote to the guys, «We really enjoyed trying your game out, so we added it to the weekly 'New Games' collection on the App Store a couple of weeks ago (as it was new to us at least!). So it’s our pleasure.» But in fact, according to the startuppers, the game utilizes some of the older mechanics.
«We’ve noticed a trend: many filmmakers, musicians, and game industry behemoths adopt approaches that were used 30 years ago. They take mechanics that have already been working for a while, polish them up a bit, add some innovations — and you get another hit. We’ve decided to go this way, too,» says Stan.
«So we realized: this is it, these are the mechanics that we can use and expand, add some RPG and competitive elements, and introduce a classical but updated hit idea to the new generation. And simultaneously engage the audience of the time,» says Stan.
Sparkle Piglet was released in 2021, entirely funded by the founders. At this point, Stan and Andrew have already invested over $200,000 in the game. But more is needed — to update the game and create other products.
«In order to keep updating and developing the game, we need more talents on the team who we should pay for their expertise,» explains Stan.
Sparkle Piglet now has 30,000+ downloads. It has also won the Game of the Day award on the App Store in the UK. Now the startup team is looking for an investor to evolve the product into a franchise.
7tam is a team of 36 people. But only two of them — the founders themselves — are on staff. They do not yet have the money to pay full salaries to developers, designers, and other specialists. The team is global. Andrew and Stan work from Montenegro, where the company is registered. The rest are working from Georgia, Ukraine, Canada, Poland, Russia, and Serbia.
«Most of them are Unity developers, testers, artists, animators, game designers, UX/UI, sound designers, and web developers,» says Andrew.
«The team is growing, but slowly. We need an angel investor — then we can grow faster,» adds Stan.
Andrew and Stan want to develop 7tam as a product company. The team is now working on another product. It is still at an early conceptual stage: the plot is already there, but the game mechanics have not been decided upon yet.
«If you compare it to the movies, it’s like Nolan’s Inception. It’s a story about time gaps and different dimensions. And the characters of the story are ordinary people. It will be a story of love and break-up, downfall, wealth and poverty — all that resonates with each of us,» says Andrew.
Stan and Andrew are channeling their entrepreneurial spirits and pouring their own resources into their latest brainchild, Sparkle Piglet. The dynamic duo is determined to bring their innovative product to the world, but they know that they can’t do it alone. They’re on the hunt for an investor to help take Sparkle Piglet to the next level.
«We would like to give an opportunity for players in Sparkle Piglet to make their own content: create characters, in-game locations, and opponents, organize tournaments, and even sell their content afterwards — essentially make a game within a game. In addition, we’d like to add the option to automatically suggest beautiful speech patterns for players with the help of AI,» explains Stan.
«We are looking for a business angel who won’t be expecting monetization right away. Any well-thought-out product starts to bring income with time; you have to build the trust of the players first,» says Andrew.
«All these years we funded everything out of our own pockets,» continues Stan. «This is still the case today. And we did release the game! It shows that we are enthusiastic and that we
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