GaMa Entertainment Systems: Manufacturing and Developing Entertainment Hardware & Software
Mentored and funded by SBVG (Sweat & Blood Venture Group) led by Vishal Gondal, CEO and Founder at Indiagames, GaMa Entertainment began its journey in 2008 in a small room in IIT Bombay.GaMa Entertainment is a developer and manufacturer of entertainment hardware and software for the retail industry, specializing in innovative gaming machines.
“We had always been fans of the arcade games and were very disappointed with the fact that no new titles could reach India due to the lack of manufacturing support and the huge costs of international machines. Also, there was a lack of localized content. We decided to fix the problem and follow our passion of gaming. Hence, began the foray into entrepreneurship,” says Founder, Puneet Kumar.
Their journey began when they entered the Eureka business plan competition, one of the biggest B-Plan contests in Asia, having worked on prototypes to validate their ideas. “This is where Vaibhav (also Founder) and I met Vishal Gondal, CEO and founder of Indiagames. We were in constant touch with him as a mentor. On the final day of the contest he told us that he wanted to fund the company. Later that day, we also won the competition. More than the funds, we cherish the mentorship received from Vishal. All his experience in the gaming industry has helped us greatly,” says Puneet.
GaMa’s clients include the gaming zones one finds in most malls these days; Timezone (international chain of family entertainment centers with multiple gaming zones in India), Funcity (part of Landmark group) and Jammin (gaming zone from Ashok Piramal Group) to name a few. These gaming zones are usually called FECs (Family Entertainment Centers). A typical such center houses amusement activities like bowling, bumper cars, soft play area for kids, video games (racing, shooting etc.), redemption games (claw vending, ticket vending etc.) and sports games (basketball, air hockey etc.).
How it works
Various components of an arcade machine are: Cabinet, hardware components, electronics, wiring, lighting, decals and software.
Different parts of GaMa’s cabinets are manufactured by different vendors. These parts then arrive at their assembly unit for integration. Once the cabinet is completed, they fit the various hardware components like credit/token system, wheels, screws etc. After this, their technicians fit pre-tested circuits in the machine. These circuits are then connected via an intricate system of harnessing (wiring). The next step is to install lighting which makes the machine really attractive and stand-out from a distance. After these steps, the machine is covered with attractive artwork decals. The last step is to install the software and test the machine.
Once all the tests are passed, the machine is packed and shipped.
The GaMa team is very excited about two of their most recent products. One of them, Terminator Salvation, is a first person shooting game to be launched next month. GaMa has partnered with RAW Thrills for launching this game in India.
The second product is a photo booth machine - Mymage. “It’s a first of its kind booth in India. It is an automated machine which houses a camera, lights, touch screen and a printer. We have successfully "Gamified" the photo studio experience with this product,” says Puneet, excited.
When customers enter the booth, they are prompted to choose from a list of templates. These templates allow them to convert their photos to pictures like a Wanted poster, a photo with their favourite cartoon character, a photo with their spouse or a nice family portrait. The customers then pose in front of the camera 4 times (they can see themselves on the screen) making silly faces, giving cool looks and showing some attitude. At the end of it, they can choose the one photo which looks the best and the machine prints the same in less than 30 seconds giving them a souvenir they will cherish for a long time. “Since, we use a very professional Dye-Sublimation photo printer, the prints are just breath-taking. We are very proud of this product as it has enabled us to extend the gaming experience outside of traditional games and allowed us to re-invent the joy of photos. These photos are also instantly uploaded to our servers from where you can download them, share them on Facebook and participate in social interaction on the web,” says Puneet.
Puneet Kumar and Vaibhav Goel started the company back in 2008. Puneet is a B. Tech. in Aerospace Engineering and Vaibhav an M. Tech in Mechanical. Recently, Shreyas, a friend of Puneet and Vaibhav who was with them at IIT Bombay while doing his B.Tech in Electrical engineering also joined the core team.
Revenue and Marketing
GaMa has two types of Revenue models. One is the traditional outright sales model wherein they sell their machines to their clients.
The second model is a revenue-sharing model wherein they install their machines at the client's premises and share the revenues earned by the machine with the client. In this model, the client doesn't have to block his capital in buying the machines and can invest the same in operations and marketing. Since GaMa also maintains the machines, there is no overhead due to service and repairs.
“We usually market ourselves via the industry specific print media (e.g. Thriller magazine). We are a member of the IAAPI (Indian Association of Amusement Parks & Industries). We are also a regular exhibitor at the annual national exhibition organized by them. It provides an excellent platform for all the people related to the industry to interact with each other. We also focus on brand presence on all our machines in form of decals and backlit signage,” says Puneet.
Hardware start-ups usually face a very different set of challenges. Manufacturing is traditionally a very capital intensive activity. Moreover, in a start-up, resources are always scarce. “One of our biggest challenges was how to get international quality products designed with minimum capital invested. We overcame this challenge by re-thinking and contemporising traditional knowledge. Instead of investing a lot of money in an assembly line, we partnered with many top quality vendors who agreed to work for us on a contract basis at affordable rates. This allowed us to focus on the core R&D activities and improve the quality of our products,” says Puneet.
Maintaining and managing inventory was another big challenge. Idle inventory not only blocks capital, it also eats up storage space which results in increased costs. “We solved this problem by optimizing the work flow through all our vendors thereby ensuring a just in time production system. Also, instead of storing the entire machine, we maintained inventory of some of the parts which took longer times to manufacture and source. This allowed us to reduce the time from ‘order placed’ to ‘order shipped’,” says Puneet.
The road ahead
Based out of Mumbai, GaMa plans to ramp up to many more cities this year. They are partnering with international IP developers to bring their titles to the Indian market. “One of our first collaboration has been with RAW Thrills, one of the biggest manufacturers of arcade video games in the world. They have an impressive line of titles like Terminator (shooting), Fast & Furious Cars (car racing), Fast & Furious Super Bikes (bike racing) etc.,” says Puneet.
They are also expanding their horizons outside the gaming zones via their Photo Booths. “We are looking to expand to many high footfall locations like malls, tourist locations, retail spaces, railway stations etc.,” adds Puneet.
GaMa raised the second round of financing from Hope Island Pvt. Ltd led by Sanjay Parthasarhty and Granite Hill Venture Partners. “Sanjay is also a mentor to the company. He has a lot of experience in grooming start-ups and many of his business suggestions have proved invaluable for the company,” adds Puneet.
More about the company here.