Her Business Story: Emma May, Founder of Emmerse Studios

Quirk boardgame created by Emma May

In today’s Her Business Story we meet the female founder behind Emmerse Studios – Emma May.

Emma tell us more about what you do at Emmerse Studios

Emmerse Studios makes creative and immersive experiences through traditional and digital games. Our first product is a card game called Quirk! And we also work on digital projects for clients, such as the Grace Dieu Virtual Museum, developing projects for Augmented and Virtual Reality. I have always wanted to be an artist or inventor!

What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?

I believe in doing things differently and not following a set path. If too many people are going one way, I will go another. I never really felt like I fit in so I’ve always done my own thing anyway, wanting to make products, start a business, put teams together, collaborate with people – It feels natural to me to do that. I had a brief blip in my entrepreneurship where I had a full time job and left in 2015 to pursue my own business again.

What prompted you to get started?

If I have an idea for something, I will look for as many ways as possible to make it happen and test the concept as I go along, this ensures me there’s a potential market for it later, then I can go all in with minimized risk. I’m a product designer at heart and I love creating, so you’re more likely to ask me the question “What would stop you putting an idea into action?”

When I started Emmerse Studios, I was working with mental health researchers to develop a virtual reality game which would help improve mental resilience, in the first two months of gaining approval for the idea, I had gathered 3 other projects that I had intentions of working on. Since there’s only one of me, I had to stagger my projects across 2017. A few years earlier (2013) I had developed a book and a card game which were gaining interest this year and I kept being asked if I would redevelop them. That’s how my game Quirk! was born.

I took my old card game, stripped back all the features that weren’t working and revamped the artwork, tested the game by making my own prototype at home before I took it to printers and started play testing with my target audience. It took 2 weeks to redesign the game and 2 weeks to get my first samples printed. I then failed funding on Kickstarter, play tested for a further 5 months, did my first big show at UKGE (UK Games Expo) whilst setting up a new Kickstarter and funding 200% and now the pre-order site is up, I’m launching at a local retailer in a few days, getting ready to fulfill the Kickstarter rewards and pre-order sales for October 2017 and off to Germany to do my second big show of the year; Spiel – Essen Games Fair. I wouldn’t say I’ve stopped putting the idea into action since I’ve started. There’s always more that needs to be done!

What has been your scariest moment as an entrepreneur?

Most probably what’s happening next in my company. I don’t know which way it’s going to go, there’s so much uncertainty. I just have to take the leap, put preventive actions in place and have faith it will all work out. Although, if you spoke to me last month, I’d say the same thing! As the saying goes; ‘it doesn’t get easier, you just get tougher,” which is why I believe my next challenge will be my scariest moment as an entrepreneur.

What has been your proudest moment?

I sometimes don’t realize how quickly I can make something happen. Plus creating a game that kids absolutely adore! It’s hearing what kids love about the game or from their parents when they say they’ve played it non-stop. It was never intended as a children’s game, the original game I created in 2013 was a drinking game. I guess it makes kids feel cool that they can play a card game that adults would pick up to play between themselves too.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned from founding your own company?

If you want to pursue anything that you consider would be incredible, think counter-intuitively because not all advice is created equal or should be taken, depending on who you are, what you want to do and what you believe is possible. Never let anyone place their limitations on you.

Which women inspire you?

Hayley Williams, Sia, Hilary Duff.

I’m really interested in women in creative roles, all of them are singer/song writers, but they all inspire me in different ways. Hayley for the way she creates her brands, I think she’s really intelligent, edgy and super creative. Sia because her music is incredible, even her creative process is utterly amazing and she lets her work speak for itself, showing that you can be super successful and still try and live a normal life. Hilary for her extremely lovely personality and how she mindfully responds to others.

What one thing do you wish someone had told you when you first started out?

Before you do anything else in your business, have a morning routine that sets you up for success and do it every day without fail.

What’s the best piece of business advice someone has ever given you?

Take the long, hard road, do everything for yourself because there’s more value in you knowing the journey you’re on than outsourcing in the beginning. When you’re ready to hire, you’ll know what they need to do and whether they are doing it effectively for the return on investment in your company.

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