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Letter from the Chair - March

This month's letter was so impassioned, it became the basis of our 'About' page!  The controversial post argues that if we want to ignite the fire of change, then we need to create the sparks by working together and becoming a community. It has worked in Montreal, New York, Austin and other creative hubs like ours.

 

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Letter from the Chair - February

We reflect on the achievements of the first month of the year including the gathering at Access Salt Lake. Plus a preview of this month's upcoming events.

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UDEN #12 - Sundance

UDEN's first meeting of 2017 was held during the Sundance Film Festival on January 25th.  We were graciously hosted by our terrific partners the Utah Film Commission at their event space in Park City, UT.  

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Letter from the Chair - January

In the first of a new monthly email letter, our Chair looks forward to the opportunities of the new year and the upcoming events for January.  If you would like to be added to our mailing list please email info@utahden.org.

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UCDA Digital Summit Recap

UDEN was a sponsor of the UCDA Digital Summit held at the superb Park City Film Studios; this is my recap of what happened there which I want to share with the wider community.  Overall I came away re-energized about the potential of this sector and truly impressed by the quality and talent of the people we have here in the state.

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Loans for Startups

Traditional banks want to be a part of your business’ growth strategy but a small part. They tend to be conservative in their lending practices.  It’s standard, for example, for banks to offer traditional commercial loans only to companies that have been in business for at least two years. Preferred SBA lenders, however, may assist startups at various stages.

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UDEN #11 - Financing a Creative Business

A panel discussion that addressed: 

  • Lessons learned from startup accelerators like Tech Stars and Boom Startup;
  • What VC’s are really looking for and their specific issues with funding digital entertainment innovations;
  • Tips and advice for tapping into a range of resources including angel investors, venture debt, venture capital and strategic partnerships;
  • How to present a compelling pitch;
  • Resources in Utah that can help.

Read the full blog here: http://www.guv1.com/jonblogs/uden11

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UDEN #Startup Meeting Recap

A business incubator was the ideal setting for this special UDEN meeting, which was held primarily to help the Salt Lake Disney/Avalanche employees whose studio will be closing next month.  While we know them to be highly talented individuals who will have options in what they do next, we thought that perhaps some of them might use this opportunity to start something of their own.  With that in mind, we want them to be as prepared as they can be. But our Disney friends weren't the only ones we had in mind: we opened the meeting to anyone interested in starting up on their own.  Around 110 people attended, and by show of hands, more than half said they were interested in starting up  or joining with others who wanted to startup.  5 people showed their hands when asked if only along for the food :-)

Read my full account of the meeting - including pix! -  here: http://www.guv1.com/jonblogs/2016/6/10/uden-startup-meeting

 

Please feel free to add your comments on the meeting in the comments below, as well as any details you found helpful that I may have missed in my summarizing.

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Avalanche Resources

This post collects resources from the community to (hopefully!) help the several-hundred recently laid-off Avalanche employees find new positions, start new studios, or go indie.

Our hope is that these talented folks can stay in the industry and stay in Utah, and not have to uproot their families and move cross-country just to find work.

This outreach is an initiative of the Utah Games Guild in the interest of preserving, and hopefully strengthening, the Utah game dev community. (Here’s Utah Games Guild co-founder Josh Sutphin on why local still matters.)

A "living document" version of this information is available here for anyone to contribute to.

Communities

  • Utah Games Guild – A local indie game dev support network

  • Utah Game Devs Slack Channel – Semi-public Slack channel run by Utah Games Guild, with 100+ local game devs from the indie, studio, and student sectors

  • Utah Indie Game Night – Discussion group and bi-monthly in-person meetups for local indies and hobbyists

  • Salt Lake/Provo IGDA Chapter – Official IGDA chapter for the Salt Lake/Provo area

  • Utah Digital Entertainment Network (UDEN) – Building a community of everyone involved in film, games, YouTube, VR etc. Regular networking meetings, guest speakers etc. (You are here!)

  • Utah Unity Users Group – Official Unity users group for the Utah area; organizes quarterly meetups for technical presentations and discussion

  • Hack Night SLC – group of programmers (mostly web programmers), often talking about job openings, good networking opportunity

Job Openings

Local Game Companies

Don’t hesitate to send these companies your resume/portfolio, even if their current job listings don’t include your position. The Disney layoff may represent an opportunity for them to hire hard-to-find talent that isn’t explicitly on their roadmap yet.

Games Made In Utah

  • https://trello.com/b/XTX7zXlz/utah-games-guild-database - All encompassing database of indie studios and games made or being made right now in Utah.

  • Animal Jam and Animal Jam - Play Wild! - WildWorks - One of the most popular online kids social games on the planet. Been running since 2010 and still growing!

  • A Kingdom For Keflings and A World Of Keflings - NinjaBee

  • Infinity Blade - ChAIR

  • Twisted Metal

  • SAGA - Silverlode Interactive (defunct) - The world’s first and longest running Persistent Online Strategy Game from 2008 ongoing. Currently being maintained by @AyrikX.

Going indie

  • Pixel Prospector - The Indie Goldmine. All-in-one site containing links to tons of other resources useful for going indie and game development in general.

Starting a studio

The best possible silver lining to the closure of Avalanche would be the formation of some exciting new indie startups in Utah. Starting a company seems daunting to many people, and there are some developers who simply prefer the security of working for a large established company. That security is illusory anywhere in the entertainment industries, however, as we’ve unfortunately just seen demonstrated.

Consider this: the hardest part of starting the next Valve or SuperCell isn’t the logistics, legal work, or fundraising — it’s assembling a great team. This usually takes years, because each new hire requires finding the right combination of talent, personality, and ambition to fit your vision for the company. So if you have a team of Disney co-workers with whom you already gel, whose talents you trust and admire, you have already accomplished the biggest hurdle to building the next great game company.   

Legal

One of your first steps will be to actually create a legal entity for the company. You can register your company in Utah using this website:

http://www.corporations.utah.gov

and this guide:

http://tax.utah.gov/forms/pubs/pub-38.pdf

…however, there are some significant advantages to incorporating in Delaware, even if the business will be located in Utah. Those advantages are outlined here:

http://corplaw.delaware.gov/eng/why_delaware.shtml

This is a helpful resource, particularly if you’re unfamiliar with the legal terms that tend to swirl around new startups:

http://startuplawyer.com/startup-issues/if-i-launched-a-startup

You’ll need to consider practical things, like healthcare and making sure you have business insurance.

Office Space

Working from home can be great to get started, but it isn’t ideal for teamwork or collaboration. Most landlords require big commitments for office space - multiple year leases and security deposits. You’re probably not ready for that right away, so consider an incubator (if you’ve seen Silicon Valley on HBO, this is the idea, but not someone’s house!).

There are a few local incubators where you can rent desks and facilities by the month, secured by a credit card. It’s a really cheap and effective way to get started. Other advantages include professional meeting rooms where you can meet investors or clients, high-speed internet, a real street address, business services plus there are other startups just like you with whom you can share or even collaborate.

Here are a few to consider; each has a slightly different mission and vibe, so check them all out to see who has space and which will be the best fit for your needs:

Downtown SLC

Sandy

Grow Utah has also put together a useful directory of resources for startups, here:

http://growutahventures.com/elink

Local Seminars

Startup Ignition:  “Financing Your Venture”
May 24 @ 7pm
SoJo Dojo
10235 S. Jordan Gateway
South Jordan, UT
https://startupignition.com/
RSVP: http://us10.campaign-archive2.com/?u=3ae72d2f23f6d65d3d2c4f18b&id=043c935003&e=15eb6e1e38

Advice From Local Experts

There are a lot of decisions you and your business partners will need to make at the outset. How will the company be funded? What roles should each of the founders play? Are we going to create a new original game, or focus on contract work for other companies? What are the major strengths of the team, and how do we best leverage them?

Unless you’ve done this before, it can be very helpful to have the advice of people who have. UDEN is a great resource for this. Here are a few UDEN members with experience founding companies in Utah that are willing to advise new startups:

Clark Stacey
clarkstacey at me.com  

Jeff Peters
TapStar Interactive, Inc. / iEntertainment Inc.
UDEN.org
Bluff Street
Email:  Robotron4@gmail.com
Email:  jeff@tapstargames.com
Skype:  jeff.b.peters

Jon Dean
j@guv1.com
www.guv1.com

Coping When You Are Let Go

It’s tough being let go, and you will feel a range of emotions. You will worry. You will feel sad. You will think that maybe you will never get a job again! This is all quite normal. But you will be OK. Be prepared, know what you will be going through, stay active and sooner than you know you're starting your next job. That might be a week, a month, six months, maybe more. So it is important to get a plan together really quickly.

Here is a blog post that talks about how to cope during the time between jobs. http://www.guv1.com/jonblogs/2015/12/9/being-let-go-part-ii-the-employees-perspective (scroll down to ‘Being Let Go’.)



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UDEN #10 - Meeting Recap - Prof. Roger Altizer

 UDEN's 10th membership meeting kicked off at the incredible surrounding of Utah's Natural History Museum.  

 

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