Balancing Acts: Overcoming Startup Challenges for Moms With Terry Redfield

Terry Redfield

Terry Redfield is the Founder of a stealth mode startup, a company in its early stages of development and inspired by a game she created in 2015. With nearly three decades in the gaming industry, Terry embarked on her remarkable journey at 3DO as a junior artist. Her notable contributions include content creation for acclaimed games such as Psychonauts, Gardens of Time, and League of Legends. Throughout the years, Terry has refined her expertise across different specializations in the console, PC, and mobile platforms. 

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • Terry Redfield discusses stealth mode and her career trajectory
  • Effective tips Terry shares for managing large teams
  • Terry reflects on her experience at Riot Games
  • Hiring processes to build a successful team
  • The challenges publishers face when launching new products
  • How Terry rebounds from unsuccessful projects
  • Work-life balance and the obstacles moms face when founding a startup
  • Terry reveals the lessons she has learned from her previous startups
  • Building communities through networking and mentorships

In this episode…

Embarking on an entrepreneurial path is demanding. Add the responsibilities of motherhood to the equation and the challenges become far more intricate. How can moms balance work and life, overcome obstacles, and venture into the startup landscape?

Terry Redfield, a seasoned gaming professional and entrepreneur, reveals that building communities is paramount when facing of these challenges. Networking plays a pivotal role in providing moms with the resources, guidance, and encouragement needed for their dual journey. Terry also explains that it's crucial to recognize the collective responsibility to empower change. By acknowledging these challenges, learning from experienced entrepreneurs, and participating in community-building efforts, creating a more inclusive and supportive landscape becomes the standard.

Join Lizzie Mintus on today’s episode of the Here’s Waldo Podcast, where she interviews Terry Redfield, an entrepreneur and gaming expert, about the challenges mothers face as gaming entrepreneurs. Terry shares effective tips for managing large teams, hiring processes for building successful teams, the challenges publishers face when launching new products, and the lessons she’s learned from her previous startup experiences.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode...

This episode is brought to you by Here’s Waldo Recruiting, a boutique recruitment firm specializing in the video game industry that prioritizes quality over quantity and values transparency, communication, and diversity. We partner with companies, creatives, and programmers to understand the why behind their needs and provide a white-glove experience that ensures a win-win outcome.

The industry evolves. The market changes. But at Here’s Waldo Recruiting, our commitment to happy candidates and clients does not. 

We understand that searching for the best and brightest talent can be overwhelming, so let our customer-first staff of professionals do the leg work for you by heading over to hereswaldorecruiting.com.

Episode Transcript

Welcome to the Here's Waldo Podcast, where we sit down with top visionaries and creatives in the video game industry. Together, we'll unravel their journeys and learn more about the path they're forging ahead. Now, let's get started with the show.

Lizzie Mintus: I'm Lizzie Mintus, founder and CEO of Here's Waldo Recruiting, a boutique video game recruitment firm. This is the Here's Waldo Podcast. In every episode we dive deep into conversations with creatives, founders, and executives about what it takes to be successful. You can expect to hear valuable lessons from their journey and get a glimpse into the future of the video game industry.

This episode is brought to you by Here's Waldo Recruiting, a boutique recruitment firm for the game industry. We value quality over quantity, transparency, communication, and diversity. We partner with companies, creatives, and programmers to understand the why behind their need. Before introducing today's guest, I want to give a big thank you to Olga Sheverieva. You're wonderful. You put together a Woman in Games panel that I was able to meet Terry at. So thank you for all of your community building and women building activities. I appreciate it.

Today, we have Terry Redfield with us. Terry's journey began in the industry in 1996 when she embarked on a remarkable career starting at 3 D. O. She went on to help create content for hit games like the award winning Psychonauts, Gardens of Time and League of Legends. Over the years, Terri has honed her skills across various segments of the gaming landscape, including core, mid core, and casual titles spanning across console, PC, and mobile platforms.

She is now working on a new startup and I'm gonna let her tell us more. Thanks for being here, Terry.

Terry Redfield: Hey, Lizzie, thanks for having me.

Lizzie Mintus: Yeah, what can you share about your new Stealth mode startup?

Terry Redfield: It's about a game that I created in 2015. This is my third startup actually. 2015, it was a game that I was testing really positively and but I got pregnant, so I had to make a really tough choice to basically put my startup on hold, get some stability, because having children is probably way harder than any startup I've ever done.

So I'm continuing that journey now.

Lizzie Mintus: Congrats. And yeah, we had a good, great talk about glamour, that mom life.

Terry Redfield: Mom life. For sure.

Lizzie Mintus: You had a couple startups, and then at the most recent startup, you had a baby and then worked at larger companies. Can you go through a little bit of your career history?

Terry Redfield: Sure. So the game that I was working on in 2015 was a head to head real time puzzle battler. It played like Candy Crush, but it had elements of League of Legends. I love League. I started playing League back in 2009 when it came out. It was very close to my heart. But, so I ended up going, actually, to work for Kane in London.

I ended up going there to be head of creative in London working on Candy Crush Franchise, which I didn't do that on purpose. Actually, I didn't even think about, oh, this is an important element to this game. I was working on that I had to put away for now and it was really about really making new things not just Candy Crunch Franchise type things which is because I felt that there's this kind of emerging audience of gamer moms really.

People who don't have time anymore because they have families and they used to be core gamers and now they just have 20 minutes spare, if that. Talk about mom life, right? I just felt that audience is going to just continue to grow in the future, and so I wanted to explore with that.

I got to go to London, pregnant, by myself, really far away from my family in Hawaii. Actually, I'm a big island. It was a bold choice, but I went there. I did a lot of good experimentation around what the audience wants today. And I think that's where I found a lot of interesting stuff, like how women really liked Dragon Age type art that they were totally open to having different styles other than like bubble witch type styles. That was an emerging trend. So that was really interesting for me. Then after about a year, I realized, wow, this is so hard. It's so low and they're moving anyway back to Sweden.

So I came back home, licked some wounds, spent time with family to help me take care of the little one. And then I ended up going to work for Wizards of the Coast, which was super exciting because I'm a big ol nerd and played D&D, a long time ago. Magic the Gathering, I used to collect the cards when they came out, which is dating me. But yeah, I was a super big fan.

They were starting up a digital publishing division to start doing digital expressions of Dungeons and Dragons and Magic the Gathering. So that was really exciting. So I was there for about three years and worked with some amazing people. I made a game called D&D Dice Adventures, which is Yahtzee meets D&D RPG.

So again, I was continuing to do this experimentation of what if I took a core concept rolling matches, which is what Yahtzee is and combine it with something like a hardcore RPG. And it's tested super well. You can still find it, out on YouTube if you want to take a look.

But essentially we had to put it on ice because the company wasn't quite ready for mobile. But from there, I got lured away by Niantic because I love Pokemon Go as well. And Pokemon Go is another example of this kind of aversion to the audience, right? It's another example of the whole world playing this game, which at its core Is people right and it's just people, but it has these kind of more core ideas built around it.

So I wanted to go and explore that. I was able to. They were saying, run the creative team in London. Make new IP, because that was my trademark thing. Mostly, though, I helped with publishing there, and I also helped with other games they had in flight.

There were a lot of expressions of that, too, that I got to look how they developed and what went right and what went wrong. Unfortunately, I'm sure people heard about the closures of the L. A. Studio after about a year, I think? Which was tough. But I was going to stay in London because my child was getting a cute English accent. I'm thought, I should stay here. And I made friends too, but I came calling, as I mentioned, I love League of Legends.

So I ended up moving over to Riot. At first I was going to work on mobile, which would be Wild Rift. But then I ended up moving on to the skins team for League of Legends. I got to see how all the money's made, all these fantasies, expressions and, again use the powers I built up along the way to talk about, how do we do good representation. Things like that.

Lizzie Mintus: And I saw you started as creative director, but then you moved to art director.

Terry Redfield: Yes, so when I got there, I was going to work with another amazing woman, Christina Wan, who's was really honestly part of why I moved back. I wanted to work with this amazing woman. But unfortunately, they decided to move the project to China. So then we went with it. So I was sad about not working with Christina, but that's when they said, Hey, do you want to come and be our director? I've got an art background, but generally I function as a creative director, so that's how I ended up on the skins team.

Lizzie Mintus: And I saw you managed 300 people and I just wanted to ask, what tips do you have for effectively managing people?

Terry Redfield: Fortunately, I had super talented associate art directors who essentially would help me. Then we had craft leads who had their own teams of their own disciplines. It was more leaning on my art manager, which I had when I first arrived. And he would manage the careers of all the leadership folks.

And then I would manage more around the creative. What are we doing as a whole, how are our thematics shaping up? Do they feel pretty good? Do they resonant with our community and our players? I had some reports which were mainly on the creative side, like Thomas Ranby, who is an absolute amazing, lovely human being.

He was our creative lead for concept. My team was all fantastic. They were just such good people that lead with empathy. And they just made my job easy, honestly. 300 is a lot, but when you have like really talented people around you to help balance that load, it's manageable.

 The tip would be: find other good people to lean on and delegate, and let go. I think that's the hardest thing I've seen young people coming into director positions. They struggle with letting go and leading on their talented team. It's harder than it sounds.

Lizzie Mintus: It's so hard. There's a really good Harvard Business Review article about giving away your Legos and how when the company grows. I have people on my team read it because we're like, 14 people. And so when someone else comes in, they end up doing this thing I used to do, right? The article is about Facebook or Meta now, but the crazy growth they went through and how as you evolve, you give away stuff.

I want to hear more about working at Riot because Riot and League of Legends. It's an interesting team. Do you feel like it had the success that it did, or if you have any quips or stories about Like riot inner workings that you can share? I know it has a unique culture.

Terry Redfield: I can't say too much, but I can say, though, I talk about emotional design a lot. I feel that when I go to places in a director role that we talk a lot about metrics, scaling, and progression, but we sometimes forget about the emotional design of things, which is: how does this thing make me feel? How is this thing going to make the players feel? What does it mean when someone says, that's not set, or that's Samira? What does that mean? So breaking that down to understand what is the resonance, what is the kind of important piece about that character that we want to carry over and match with the thematic.

Because I think, if you look at it, if you have a real big Edgelord character like Master Yi, I don't know, you might not want to put them in a very colorful or fantasy, sweet based thematic, because the players who played that character may not like it. Unless you go into a parody mode, which is, I'm sure folks now are familiar with that. There's a character called Urgot, and he is really hideous. He's not a good looking character at all. He's got like these big spider legs. Rotting and dead. But we ended up putting him in a Star Guardian pajama outfit and players loved it because it was pushing that idea of Urgot so far into parody that they said, okay, this is funny.

 We accept this, but it's like being stuck in that no person's land in the middle. That's where you don't want to end up. So I think that's probably the most thing I worked around the most with the team, really getting everybody to talk to each other, producers, artists about that resonance, that emotional design piece. And it great results.

Lizzie Mintus: How did you test what the right thing to do was? I know Riot's into player feedback.

Terry Redfield: I think a lot of it came from my own experience at different places that I was bringing to the table. It's very easy when you're in a team that's busy like skins and making money so you get on the treadmill and it's hard to pause and think, let's talk about best practices, right? It's really hard when you're on the treadmill to do that. So part of my job is not so much to get into the weeds with the team is doing because they're all very talented and they could do it themselves.

Pretty much for me, I had to brainstorm: what can I do to make their lives easier? What can I do to interject? How do we make this a residence happen? What do you need from producers? And so I was the connective tissue bringing my experience from all the testing I've done to say emotional design residence really helps your bottom line.

Lizzie Mintus: That makes sense. I never heard it explained like that. Thank you. You had a big team and I imagine you inherited some amazing people, but you also hired some amazing people. What qualities do you look for in people?

Terry Redfield: Obviously, the talent bar for art is quite high. It's hugely high. That's why it's very important to care, the care and feeding of your artist because you don't want to lose them. Because once you lose that talent, you're talking about world shattering records, like very famous artists, right? You want to make sure that they have what they need to grow and feel good about themselves.

I think really bringing someone in that's not going to disrupt that. I feel like making sure that they fit with the personality. And the needs and what people expect of the team. I know some people will just say, , we're hiring in this position. They're above this level, the team will never see them. I don't like doing that. So I usually like to have my team have at least a small part of a say and see this person interact with this person.

 Culture is really big at Riot, like making sure that people are going to get along and respect people. So that's what's important to me. If you're just getting in the door, you just got past all these tests, I know you're really good at what you do. But, how are you going to treat others? How are you going to mesh with my team? That's probably my most important tip there.

Lizzie Mintus: Yeah, how do you decipher that? Do you have any questions that you really like to ask, or how do you poke at that? It's easy in the interview to know what you need to get, but to ask the right questions is the hard part. To get you the answer, the real answer, not the bullshit answer.

Terry Redfield: Yeah, thats hard, right? You're meeting somebody for the first time,. I think across the board, Riot or not Riot, I think that's always a challenge. With interviews, some people interview amazingly well, and some people interview really badly because they're nervous.

Actually, women and people of color tend to do that the most because it's the state of the industry. There could be biases there, you're used to bumping up against them. You have all these things to worry about, in addition to showing what you've done, which frankly, for us, usually we're under leveled, right? And a lot of times underpaid.

You're dealing with all these things, but I think today we passed that, right? Riot to begin with, and you can see this on Glassdoor, but, they have tailored questions now that's pretty detailed to go through and look for that personally fit, make sure that they're respectful. It must work because, like I said, all my entire art team were just such lovely people. I couldn't complain about any of them. They were just awesome. It broke my heart having to leave them, but really, it must work to some degree, right? And I think Riot's trying to be more careful about people's personalities and how they're treated.

Lizzie Mintus: Yeah, it's funny to recruit because some companies really care. Some companies care about diversity. Some don't as much. That's not what they're seeking. There are some companies where you can plug and play regardless of personality, but it's interesting. There are always some interesting personalities too, but like you said, you do have to determine, is this person really nervous or is this who they are fundamentally?

I want to talk about you and your theme of building all these new things. Specifically at Wizards, you worked on this, D&D Dice Adventures title from ideation to soft launch. Can you share a bit more about the journey of figuring out everything about a game to actually launching it and everything?

Terry Redfield: That was tough. There's also the difference between making a game internally, which is first party and being on a publishing team. You're either doing codec, which is second party. Or you're making the game together with another team, and then you have your third party, where you're licensing, and you're just like, oh, we'll just check in, make sure that the IP is all good.

In the case of this game, we were doing a co dev, and probably the most interesting thing about that was, and this actually applies for other places I've worked at, is people don't take that time in the beginning. Sit down with the team that's outside, and just say, hey, what are we making? What are we going to be excited about? Are we on the same page? Do we have that same understanding of what we're doing? Because at first, I just got there and the executives were like, how about Yahtzee meets D&D? I said, what does that mean? They're like, I don't know. Go figure it out.

 It was literally that open ended. We had a pitch. It was from to the clear, but it was old, right? They came back to a pitch that they're excited about. Essentially, they sat our team and and asked, what are y'all's expectation of what we're making here?

They said something completely different saying, we're gonna just do this character builder, which is different than what they pitched. And my execs confused and said, no we wanna use our old technology. So had to sit us all down, make North Star pillars in the same room before Covid.

We discussed what's most important to your team. What do you want to retain? Which for them was, hey, we want to use our technology as much as we can because we had 13 months to make this thing. That's understandable. They're like, we want to really open the door to folks who are stranger things and invite them in. And that all made sense. So then let's see if we can split this down the middle. What can we take engineer folks and system designer folks?

What can we take from what you have? And still have some element of what the wizards want. And we were able to do that by just picking it apart. We had a couple of reboots along the way. I missed all roses and rainbows.

I'd say though, more or less, the team was pretty good about going back and forth. And again, I always try and be as hands off as I can. And I learned a lot of great lessons from Ben Carano, who was my creative director at Wizards. He really taught me how to work in publishing, which is: sometimes you just have to let them hit the wall because people won't always listen.

It's like being a mom, right? Sometimes your kids will not listen to you.

Lizzie Mintus: Yeah, totally. It's okay. You don't have to eat your lunch. You're going to be hungry later.

Terry Redfield: Exactly. Okay, if that's what you want to do. And they get their little the boost of autonomy and it's building trust really, right? Because we're saying, you guys are experts. And if you really passionately want to do this, let's make time for it. Then they go off and make time for it. And in this case, it was rebooting the core of the game, which is scary when you're pretty far along and you have only a certain amount of time. But I wanted them to try it so we could test it with data.

That's another thing I highly recommend to anybody. If you're working with a team, I think it's really important, if you have time, don't just like stomp on it. Let them experiment and do it, bring it back, and have testing done on it.

 Because nobody likes somebody say, I'll know it when I see it. Or it's my opinion not to like that. Nobody likes to hear that. But if you come back with, hey, we tested this on 50 players in this genre, and this is what they had to say, and they all hated it. Then it makes the partner think about it and go, Oh, yeah, maybe they should reboot themselves, which is a lot easier for me, because then we have an alignment.

I think it was that alignment that allowed us to get to the finish line and make this really cool game that we're all proud of. But sometimes it doesn't work out because sometimes business directives or what not basically will change and can't really control that.

So that's another thing that's hard. I think for younger designers is to let your darlings die. It sounds awful when I say it, but you have to let go of some things you're holding really passionately close. There might be other factors that affect it. It's not your fault.

Lizzie Mintus: Yeah, I have talked to some people and most projects they've worked on are canceled and it's so devastating. Do you have any advice for how you can get over that?

Terry Redfield: Oh, man, I'm still trying to get over that. Even today. One thing to do is to take a step back and breathe and just think about it in a bigger picture.

I wish I would have known this actually when I was younger in my career. I was the same way. I'd be so up in arms and angry. Why is this not going this way? And not understanding the top level workings. Now I'm a director, so now I get to see what's going on, right? Which is, sometimes you don't have the budget. Sometimes the market has shifted. Sometimes there's somebody, like a big, giant competitor that's going to stomp your game to the ground. Maybe it's not the right time. They have whole teams of people whose whole job is to look at insights. And they have a weather vane calculating, it's really risky.

It's really about risk. We see a lot of the layoffs going on in the industry, right? A lot of that may have to do with that kind of lack of respect of risk. When COVID came, people got excited because everybody's home. There was a lot of spending done during that time that maybe necessarily shouldn't have, because now we're reaping that results, right?

Lizzie Mintus: I think you're right on that. Also when things tighten up, bigger studios feel less likely to take a risk. But then there's a lot of opportunity for small studios who are still able to. Lots of tragedy right now, but hopefully some good to come.

Terry Redfield: I've seen a bunch of startups, women led to which is this warms my heart. Back in 2015 when I first started in 2008, there really wasn't anybody. It was difficult.

Lizzie Mintus: Yeah, what did you do? Tell me about being a woman in games in the early days and how you built community.

Terry Redfield: There's plenty of bathroom space at GDC, I'll tell you that.

Lizzie Mintus: There's a lot. Yes. I just went to an entrepreneur conference. Woman's bathroom was empty.

Terry Redfield: So empty. GDC used to sea of men going by me in the early days. And I was fortunate. I think I got what a lot of people didn't have back in early nineties or mid nineties.

I had a couple of lady mentors that took me under their wing and help guide me, shield me from a lot of the frat kind of activity going on around me during that time. That's why some of this stuff is coming out, companies being sued and things have happened because the industry has sprung out of that kind of frat behavior.

And it was really difficult being a young woman, 20 years old coming out around that stuff. I was fortunate I had Jenna Hubbard and Kiko Honda. They took care of me work moms.

I watched a lot of my lady workmate struggle, right? Because again, who are you going to go to if you're feeling a certain way and there's nobody. I think that was the toughest part, probably early days.

I think when I started my own company in 2008, I actually wasn't going to because I felt like I was being told a lot, your work's not very good, or you're not good enough. There's a lot of bias, a lot more bias back then than it was today. Like it's not to say that these people were jerks or mean, I think it's just that they hadn't worked with women ever.

Lizzie Mintus: Yes. It sounds bad, but I'll say, let's say you went to DigiPen or Fullsail or something like that, in the early days, there were no women. Maybe you're married to a woman, but there's little interaction.

Terry Redfield: Yeah, very little of that out in the open where people could understand it and they could have a conversation about it. You just didn't talk about that kind of stuff. Then that was a detriment.

In 2008, actually, I think it was a therapist and a friend of mine, Chris Keo, who was really supportive of me and he was just like, look, you're really talented. You are really good. Your ideas are fantastic. So that was really important to getting me to go, maybe I can do this.

And what really kicked it off was, I joined a startup that had raised 30 million dollars for the music industry. They were making a virtual world for teenagers. Virtual worlds were the bubble then. Everybody was investing in virtual worlds and it was just tough because I was just wondering, how do these guys get this money?

One, they weren't from the game industry and I don't think they really were from the music industry. If these guys can get 30 million, I can get three, make a really cool game. And that was actually when I ran into Ostia. One of the guys that worked at this company I was at, it's called a Doppelganger.

His wife ran this group called Ostia. Ostia is still around. So any women looking for an incubator that's more specific to women, run by women, Ostia is fantastic. Their headquartered in the Bay Area, in San Francisco. And they taught me what it was like to have a cap table, to have a team, to raise a team, raise money, and all that sort of things that I would have never known on my own.

 I have a lot of love for them. So once I learned that, then I started fundraising and trying it out. That's when I ran into a bit of a wall because I had two other female founders, and it was me. In 2008, there were no others in gaming.

Terry Redfield: I think there were other women in Ostia that were going into health, tech, beauty, but I was the only person in the room that was trying to race for games. It was a bit difficult. I'm a little bIas.

Lizzie Mintus: Everyone talks about raising money, especially right now. What did you learn throughout the process? What lessons do you have that you could share from your combinator, fundraising training, and real life training?

Terry Redfield: Oh, man, there's so much covering this podcast, but I think the environment is better.

In 2008, I found one lady who was an angel who gave me some money, but I mostly carried the company on my back and I bootstrapped, which is a great way to do it. It's difficult because a lot of women have children. Lizzie, I think you and I were talking about earlier about how there's nothing like being a mom.

While you can say you have a husband that's going to help you with work and they do. Sometimes it's just they need their mom and so you're doing like triple duty, right? So you're working on the side and then you're doing your startup idea and then you're being a mom. While a lot of women have done it and can do it, I don't think you understand how draining and how much it takes out of your body until you're there.

Lizzie Mintus: When I started my company, I was five months pregnant and then I had a baby. I don't advise this, but I gave birth on a Tuesday and I went back to work on a Monday because I was really busy. I could nurse, type, and talk on the phone at the same time. So I'd be talking to candidates and be like, yeah, my baby's here. You might hear him. It's crazy to think about. That's survival. This is not the best thing, but you can do it. It is so hard.

Just a woman thing, I always felt like I was letting somebody down all the time. Like my work, my family, my kids. It's so hard to balance.

Terry Redfield: It really is. And I gave a small little mini talk for GDC about pregnancy and what it actually is and how employers should support women after they give birth. I showed diagrams and stuff. These people are squirrely, okay? Things get pushed up into your ribcage, okay? Everything goes squirrely, and you gain weight, and your hormones are all nuts. Your brain actually shrinks. They found out that's actually true.

Lizzie Mintus: Your brain does not work at the end. I couldn't complete my sentence.

Terry Redfield: And it was tough. I didn't have maternity leave actually, because at the time that I had joined, I had to use my PTO. And so I got two months with my child before flying off to Sweden to pitch games.

 To your point, it's survival. I put one foot in front of the other. I probably clutched my child and cried a lot of nights. Because it was just so hard. I tell young women who come to me and say, can I have a family and can I do a startup?

I say, plan for it. If you want to have a family, try and plan for it. I'm putting money in the bank for this. I'm hiring help. I'm getting a nanny and it's okay. A lot of people feel guilty. But no, you can't be a CEO and go full time mom and do all the things you have to.

Lizzie Mintus: I don't do anything. All my groceries go from Instacart. I work, and I exercise, and I hang out with my family. And sometimes I do fun social stuff, and obviously, hang out with my family, my spouse, and my kids. Other things are out.

Terry Redfield: Yeah, ignore the mom guilt. Get the house cleaner, get the things you need. Plan what you're going to do when you have a kid and how you're going to balance that because you need it.

Don't let anybody talk you into that you have to do everything yourself because I think that's the feeling I had coming up in my career. You have to be everything. The Barbie movie covered it so well, didn't it?

Lizzie Mintus: You can't do it all for sure. I had to, I'm in a CEO group and it's obviously all other men. And I had to explain several things. One, I wasn't going to come to their meeting on a boat on my due date. And then two, I was not going to come to their in person four to six hour meeting right after giving birth, which was shocking to them. And I was like, do you know what happens after birth?

Terry Redfield: I don't think they do.

Lizzie Mintus: No offense to any men listening, but if you do have a stay at home wife and let's say you're a business owner guy. Maybe you're sleeping in a different room. You're not really involved in the early stage. It's really easy to not understand how hard it really Is.

Terry Redfield: It's really hard. I think it's just having conversations about what it's actually like and all the support that women actually need. So if you want them to be catching up and going, and going. During that time, it's sensitive. We should be able to have a family and run a company, Men do. We just need some support for that.

Lizzie Mintus: Yeah. And for me, I think a lot about remote work and flexible hours. The first person that I hired was a mom during the pandemic when I started my company. I just hired her part time because she was doing homeschool for her four or five year old. I don't care when she works right. She did great work because she only had a limited amount of time. She was a mom. We'd have a meeting and she'd be like, Lizzie, my kid's crying. I have to help him with this assignment. That's fine. Great. Having the ability to have a flexible schedule and do your work when you need is so important.

And I think also nobody works harder than a new parent because time is so precious. You just don't have it. So when you do get the chance to work, you have to really work. Because you don't have luxury of time.

Terry Redfield: Exactly. Yep. All that stuff.

Lizzie Mintus: Tell me about your first company. So you had Wicked Fun and Real Life Plus.

 What did you do different from company to company and what do you think you'll do different this time?

Terry Redfield: Oh boy. So many things. Even with all the training you also gave me, even with having some good mentors, I made so many mistakes in my first company. I just gave away my equity. I would be like, oh, you're working on this? Have some equity! You're doing this? Have some equity!

And they would float away from the company, and then all my equity is blown out. I'm a giving person, and I'm just like, let's do this thing together! I'm way overly optimistic, actually. Which is why I work best with a founder who is more boots on the ground to get things done. Let's be careful. Let's be cautious. This could fall apart.

I need that balance. And I didn't have that. My co founder at the time, sweet man, Sinjin, he was just like me. We're both super optimistic. So I think works against us in a way, because again, giving away all this equity, and also thinking everything will be fine. It'll be great, which I think you need a little bit of to keep going, because startups are so hard. I will say, I could have done a lot less than that.

Although, I will say that some cool moments happened. I was able to train some women to come into the game industry from other industries, so Travelin was a teacher, and she had been a teacher a long time, and I'm like, Hey, you've got skills, girl! And you've got skills that will translate to game design, because she loved games.

 I took her in. She worked a contract with the Diner Dash folks and she did great! And she's actually a Schoopley now. She's further along in her career. I was able to hire on folks who wouldn't normally be hired into a corporation and give them a leg up, cause that was important to me. And so that was some of the good things about Real Life Plus.

I was able to do things like pitch with a scrapbook. Me and my art director made a scrapbook of our little virtual world, which by the way, was Roblox. It was an early Roblox, but for adults and for kids to play together in the same space. I don't know if you know the book Griffin and Spine. It's a really cute book where these two kids really like each other and they write notes to each other. You can pull the notes out of the book and read the book and note, very tactile.

So we made a scrapbook like that and I pitched to Disney actually with the scrapbook and it was like a story time for the execs. They were just so blown away. That's actually how I ended up getting a year long contract into working in Gardens of Time which was like my favorite Facebook game at the time.

Have it get a mentor. Get a mentor in addition to any kind of incubator you want to do. If you're a bubbly person like me, get a boots on the ground person. Who's going to be real with you. If you're a boots on the ground real person, get a bubbly person to be your counter to get that balance because I think balance is probably the most important thing with the first company.

Lizzie Mintus: I think your tendency is to hire somebody that's just like you, right? It's really appealing to work with someone that's just like you, that compliments you.

Were there any really big surprises? What was the most surprising thing? You have such an idea like. I'm going to start a company and it's going to be like this and it's all going to work.

Terry Redfield: Oh yes. I was just like that. Really shiny, which is good because I think a lot of founders probably wouldn't start up if they knew how hard things could potentially get. But I think for me, it was, being super bubbly and like enthusiastic, I think it was like hitting Sun Hill Road with my ladies and realizing nobody would give us money. And then I talked to a lot of people. I didn't know any women that had raised over a million at the time either so I didn't have anybody to lean on to do that.

Not being a CEO myself ever before and also being young and idealistic, but also insecure and scared, and carrying a lot of baggage from the early game industry. That was really tough. I thought somebody will see our talent and that's powerful because women are going to become a huge force in gaming, which they have. But nobody in the U.S. would give me money. I had to actually go to Asia to get the money, so I ended up raising from Tencent.

Lizzie Mintus: That is really exciting. So your first company you raised from Tencent?

Terry Redfield: The first company I had, I raised 300k from an angel that was a lady, but finding her was tough. But after that, and the crash that happened too. It was the housing crash 2008. Not a good time to raise anyway, but I think as you said, they want to have less risk.

Lizzie Mintus: The venture funding stats are tragic. I think it's below 2 percent now. I'm not really getting better, but there are so many amazing women investors.

Terry Redfield: Now there's a lot of help. That's the thing coming into this company. And I think that all the wonderful lady groups that I just went to a poker game with a bunch of other lady angels and founders. All that stuff didn't exist when I was doing it. So that's really heartening. And also the market shifting. That's a big one because I see all the corps I've worked at, I see this market shift happening where I think it was an article about a gamer moms that came out. I'll send it to you, Lizzie, but it was so great because it was talking about how people are realizing, women hold a lot of the monetization power for the house.

Lizzie Mintus: 80% of the funding power, right?

Terry Redfield: Yep. And because a lot of them are gamers, like you and me. We play games. Now we're older and now we have children and we need something that suits our lifestyle. I don't want something to super cutesy for a little girl. I want something, I can just kick someone's ass for 20 minutes and then I'm done, right?

I get that feeling of a core game and a sort of bite sized package. That's what's coming up.

Lizzie Mintus: And you had the poker with Martina. I saw that today.

Terry Redfield:

They fill me with hope and that's why I think don't let yourself become isolated. She is a female founder.

Go out and do these things. Even if you're tired, you've been pitching all day, you've been working on your thing all day, you're bootstrapping. Make the time to go out and connect because it really invigorates you. It makes you feel you're not alone.

I can share your struggles.

Lizzie Mintus: For sure. I know I wouldn't be here. I have so many different communities and I'm so grateful. And I like to build them too, because I know when people come together, you can do so much more. Do you have any stories or advice on how you can find the right community?

Terry Redfield: Follow your podcast. Also, Olga was a great resource. Once she reached out to me and said, Hey, would you like to come speak? After that, it's just been an avalanche of really cool social connections. But you'll see on LinkedIn, I say a lot of people might not look at LinkedIn, but LinkedIn is a great resource to join groups to find like founders. Particularly like reaching out to potential mentors- let's say you're an animator, you'd love animation. You see somebody that's an amazing animator. Just reach out and be like, Hey, we talked about a whole panel, right?

Hey, I'm this person. I want to do this. I really love your career. I'd 30 minutes to talk about this and just be really specific. Yeah, a lot of the times they'll make time.

Lizzie Mintus: They will make time. Part of the panel for anyone that was not at the panel was about being specific, because I do get a lot of messages that are like, Hey, here's my resume. Find me a job. It's not how it works.

But if you do send a really thoughtful message and say exactly what you want and how much time and maybe even suggest some time. Do you have time next Friday at 3pm ?

Terry Redfield: Yeah. Take on some of the load for me because we're busy, right? We're moms and we're, we've got all this stuff going on and it's a lot of load. But also don't be discouraged if they don't answer right away because inbox and messages can get kind of crazy. Just be patient. Maybe wait a week and then maybe be like, just checking in. If you don't hear the second or third time, maybe look for another source.

Lizzie Mintus: I think you would try and email too.

I get a bunch of junk every day. I need to filter through the junk so I can find them.

I have one last question for you. Who have some of the biggest mentors been, I know you mentioned a lot, and what advice have they given you that has stuck with you throughout your career?

Terry Redfield: Probably the biggest influential one that got me actually to have the courage to run my own company was probably Lucy Bradshaw. She's GM of Maxis and she's executive EA when there weren't many women at all. She weathered a lot of storms SimCity. There was something where they changed the method of the platform or something and people just lost their minds. I don't envy anybody that can go through that, but she went through that like a champ and she had daughters. Being in the executive sphere that early, that's just so rare and just amazing.

I actually fangirled after her for a long time, but then I was looking for another executive producer for my second company. And we went to lunch. This is just something about networking. Mike Swartz, who's also amazing. We're just chatting, and I think he asked me about my mentor. I said, Lucy Bradshaw is like amazing. She inspired me to go into business even as an artist background.

And he's said, she was my wife. We're really friendly. Do you want to have lunch with her? And I'm like, yes, please. Yes. And so he set up the lunch and it was super amazing. She's just amazing as I always thought she would be, especially that she made time for me coming from this little tiny startup. So she was huge 1 for me.

And then there's Ed Fries who's doing 1 Up for a long time. He's always been there when I'm, I think it was just a couple weeks ago, actually, having imposter syndrome. He met me for coffee and he's remineded me, it's fine. It's going to be okay. So he's been a really great mentor and advisor. There's just so many others, but I'd say Lucy was my idol and my first.

Lizzie Mintus: Everybody has a sweet story about Ed. Ed met me for coffee once in Kirkland when I started recruiting for games and was just so calm and humble, which I appreciate so much. Sometimes people get so successful and they tell you about their success, but he's just so down to earth.

He helped me when I started my business. He was the first guest on my podcast. And I just went to GamesBeat and I think 10 different people told me a story about how Ed helped them in their career.

Terry Redfield: Sounds like Ed.

Lizzie Mintus: There's really great people in here.

Terry Redfield: Yeah, he's a super good advocate for ladies.

Lizzie Mintus: He is. And Kelly Wallach is so amazing too. His partner at 1UP. And she was on the podcast. She's a great community builder.

Terry Redfield: Oh yeah, I got to meet her for the first time and she was super fantastic. She totally got it too. Because it was nice when you click with someone and they get what you're going through.

Lizzie Mintus: There's so many good people.

Terry, where can people go to contact you or follow along with your startup? LinkedIn, X?

Terry Redfield: I guess LinkedIn, but I'm also on Discord quite a lot. I'm Lilith5079, so if young ladies are trying to do a startup or whatnot, look me up there. I'm there most of the time.

Actually, my team works out of Discord, so yeah. Or just LinkedIn.

Lizzie Mintus: And maybe message a few times and be specific.

Terry Redfield: Yes! Lizzie said, be specific.

Lizzie Mintus: Thank you, Terry.

Terry Redfield: Yeah, thank you.

Thanks so much for listening to the show this week. To catch all the latest from Here’s Waldo, you can follow us on LinkedIn. Be sure to click subscribe to get future episodes. We'll see you next time.

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