Love Space? Love Puppies? Then You Will Love This Card Game!
Tulika Sahai quit her job as a Asia Regional Strategy Director to start a business, and created a card game called, Space Puppies! We find out more in the interview below.
Q: Please give the readers a short introduction about yourself and your organization. What do you do and what is your organization about?
I am Tulika Sahai, the Founder of Space Puppies. I worked in advertising for 20 years before I started my own business. I was a Regional Strategy Director for Asia in my last job – taking brands and giving them an identity that would resonate with the people is what I loved! I have worked in five countries across most categories ranging from automotive, insurance, home care, personal care, travel, beverage, tech and travel.
Kids make me smile and games make me laugh, and becoming a kids’ game developer seemed like the obvious next step in my career! The journey to being an entrepreneur and developer was a colourful one. My reason for doing that is that I feel I am constantly bursting with ideas and what better way to bring them alive than doing it by yourself!
I first founded a company called Toy Around, a company that curates age appropriate toys from across the globe as well as provide a platform to buy and sell used toys so we can help reduce toy overwhelm, both for the kids and the environment. Space Puppies was an evolution of this process and I love it!
Our deal is simple. We make games that make people laugh.
Because as a wise person once said, laughter is the shortest distance between two people. And tabletop games are the best way to ensure that happens.
And we also build skills. We believe playing games trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s natural “feel-good” chemicals. “Happy hormones” have the power to leave a person feeling cheerful, compassionate, and ultimately content! Why that happens is that playing also constantly challenges our cognitive and social emotional skills, and we feel a sense of achievement.
None of this would have been possible without the amazing team behind it: Guilet Libby (our Creative Director), Jenn Per Ng (Art Director) and Vanessa Tan (Illustrator).
Q: What challenges did your organization face when it first started? What challenges does your organization continue to face now?
Space Puppies started as a Kickstarter project. We thought we had a fabulous game which would really appeal to families. So, we thought we’d try our luck on the crowdfunding website! Luckily, we sold 300 copies in just 3 weeks, that gave us the confidence to take it mainstream. So perhaps we didn’t face huge challenges at the time. The biggest challenge we are facing now is to take the game bigger and wider. Marketing costs are very high, so we tend to use much more guerilla marketing style techniques and low/no cost ideas.
Q: What inspires the creation of Space Puppies? What makes you decide to do this game?
Our team loves Space and Puppies, so we thought why not put it all together. The game is built around developing social emotional skills and decision making skills, which are two areas that are challenging for kids in this era. By creating something fun, in the context of Space and Dogs (which are the two things kids within the age of 7-15 years love), we provide an avenue that appears to be fun and addictive (in a good way)!
The project wouldn’t have been possible without the amazing team behind it!
Q: What’s the best decision about the game that you have made?
To go on Kickstarter! It gave us an indication of how well the game would be received in the market.
Q: How about the worst decision?
That’s a good question. Our worst decision so far has been to not focus enough on marketing at the start. We relied on word of mouth for the first few months of release hoping it would pick momentum. But we underestimated the power of marketing when the iron was hot!
Q: Manufacturing and quality control is often a challenge many creators face, especially when they are producing the goods abroad. What did you do to manage these challenges?
Due Diligence is an extremely important part of the manufacturing process. We spent a lot of resources on finding the right production facility by getting many samples from various manufacturers. We realized that spending a little bit more made a huge difference. And compromising on quality isn’t something we were willing to do.
Q: What are the future plans for your company or potential future products now that COVID pandemic measures are lifted.
We have many games in the pipeline already. We can give you a little intro to our next new game called Eclipse, which is a pure strategy game somewhere between tic tac toe and checkers! The aliens are taking over the universe and only the Space Puppies can stop them. This game will help kids develop skills of forward thinking and taking responsibilities for their choices – again building aspects of social emotional skills needed to excel in life.
Q: What was it like doing crowdfunding through Kickstarter? What advice would you give new game designers trying to leverage on the potential of crowdfunding?
Kickstarter was the best decision we made. My advice to anyone going that route would be to invest in pre-marketing, to ensure you have a good uptake during the campaign itself.
Q: Do you have any tips for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to enter the local tabletop game industry?
Go for it! Many times we spend too much time thinking about whether one should or not. But until you try, you will never know. When I was a junior in one of my earlier jobs, before every big meeting with a client he would say to me, “Let’s Play”. I might have taken that too literally, but this has been my mantra every time I step into something new.
Q: What are your favorite games or genre of games?
My favourite games are games of strategy, ones that make you think ahead and plan your game. But not super complicated, because then it really just becomes about the game not the social aspect. Among the mainstream games, I enjoy Rummikub. it is a game that is easy to learn and simple to play.
Q: Where can your game be found?
Alternative locations in Singapore are ToyTag and The Toy Folks. There are also 3 game cafes as well which host Space Puppies: The Mind Café, Kommune, and PlayNation. So check out those places if you want to give the game a try!