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Kevin Douglas (00:06):
Today on the Entrepreneurship@DU podcast,
Luca Gacy (00:11):
There was this new style of controller that had just come out for a game I play. I literally just couldn’t get one, so I was like, okay, well, I have a decent amount of experience in engineering. I think I could just build one myself.
Kevin Douglas (00:20):
A student follows his passions, starting a business that combines a love for engineering and video games.
Luca Gacy (00:27):
It’s all just been for fun just because it’s what I enjoy doing. Being able to live and breathe the thing that you are like legitimately passionate about, and the fact that you get to do that every day and immerse yourself and really commit yourself to that sounds amazing.
Kevin Douglas (00:41):
The video game industry is booming according to Zion market research. In the next five years, its global market value is expected to reach nearly half a trillion US dollars. There are over 3 billion active gamers in the world. We are chatting with Luca Gacy, founder and c o of ICEBOX controllers, an ergonomic alternative to standard handheld game controllers. I’m Kevin Douglas and this is the Entrepreneurship@DU Podcast.
To the Entrepreneurship@DU podcast. Today we have Luca Gacy, founder and CEO of ICEBOX controllers. ICEBOX creates gaming controllers designed for competitive fighting games with more durability and comfort than a standard controller. ICEBOX gets their name from their design rather than a handheld controller with joysticks. ICEBOX controllers look more like a computer keyboard with several buttons that give players greater precision to input their moves. Luca is a current DU student pursuing a master’s degree in electrical engineering. He’s expected to graduate this June, 2023. Luca, thanks for coming to the studio.
Luca Gacy (01:57):
Thank you for having me.
Kevin Douglas (01:58):
Now, I know you attended DU as an undergrad. Did you launch any startups during that time or is this your first real serious venture?
Luca Gacy (02:07):
I really didn’t pursue any of that, any entrepreneurship stuff during undergrad, and then I pretty much got the idea for my controller. Well, it actually started from, it never actually intended to be a business. It was literally because I wanted to build this new, there was this new style controller that had just come out for a game. I play Super Smash Brothers Melee for the Game Cube and called Block Style Controllers, and I really wanted one. There were two companies that sold them, and both of ’em had literally been sold out for months. I literally just couldn’t get one. So I was like, okay, well, I have all these resources at du. I have a decent amount experience in engineering. I think I can just build one myself. And then, so I started building it and I also have very high standards, I guess, for stuff that I build for myself.
And so I was like, okay, well if I’m going to build it, I’m, I’m going to build it right. I want it to be something that looks nice and also very functional. And I realized 80% through the process, I was like, I’ve basically just developed this product and I think that I could, and I mentioned it to some of my friends from high school and they were like, wait, can I get one of these? I want one. This sounds cool because they also would like to try the style of controller that you just can’t get right now. And then I started trying to figure out how do I actually start a business, no idea how to start a business. So I reached out to Michael Caston and he got me in contact with Joshua Ross, Neil Pollard, and John Sveta, and they’ve been super, super helpful for helping me learn that side. Yeah, basically. So this started right around the beginning of my masters and then I’ve been working on this alongside with everything, so I kind of trade off between those two, which is kind of nice because I can procrastinate one by doing the other And neither way
Kevin Douglas (03:52):
Luca Gacy (03:53):
Productive. Right, exactly. Yeah. Sometimes I need a break for both, but yeah, it’s still kind of nice of if I am stuck in one, then I can work on the other and then it’ll often have problems working in the back of my head and I can go back and forth, which is nice.
Kevin Douglas (04:06):
What has it been integrating yourself into do entrepreneurial community and do you see yourself pursuing or expanding ICEBOX or pursuing other businesses after ICEBOX?
Luca Gacy (04:20):
I do plan on building more controllers in the future and also starting more businesses in the future. Whether or not this one succeeds or fails, it’s been a lot of fun. I really like everyone in the entrepreneurial space, so I definitely just want to spend more time with within this space. It’s super awesome. I was worried that everything was going to be really competitive, and I’m sure that some parts of it are, but every single time I’ll come to or if, we’ll, we’ll just talk for a little bit about stuff and mention this is where I’m at, and then they’ll often have some really great advice, which is cool.
Kevin Douglas (04:54):
As someone who mostly has an engineering background, and this is one of your first times really pursuing entrepreneurship, what is some of that helpful advice you’ve heard that you feel has been most applicable to this venture?
Luca Gacy (05:07):
Yeah, honestly, the part about having the two sides of, at least for now, of focusing on finishing up school as well as doing, pursuing this business, being able to bounce between those and kind of procrastinate one while doing the other realization that, okay, and actually it’s very good to do that even if before it felt, I kind of felt like guilty working on my business, your ideas will definitely be better if you’re in a really, you’re in a bit of a rut. And then if you’re constantly just throwing your head against the wall, it’s, it’s taking a couple hours and doing something else will often lead to better results in that first thing.
Kevin Douglas (05:47):
And being a student and also having a social life and having other, do you have student orgs that you’d take part in and how do you balance all that while still trying to give enough time to the real responsibilities you have?
Luca Gacy (06:00):
At this point? I have too many hobbies. I do anyways. Yeah, it is nice of I’m able to go on the weekends and hang out with people and been learning a lot of new card games recently of from different regions, which this is interesting. I’ve never, there’s a brilliant Brazilian card game called Mexe Mexe and it’s interesting,
Kevin Douglas (06:22):
It’s like a standard,
Luca Gacy (06:22):
Deck of cards just using a normal deck of card and it’s just a fun game to play with people and just been getting super into just playing games with people.
Kevin Douglas (06:28):
I mean, based on the business ventures you’ve talked about and just the way your hobbies and your professional interests, games are very important to you. Yeah. How long have you been a gamer, if you will?
Luca Gacy (06:42):
Oh, that word. That’s
Kevin Douglas (06:46):
Maybe game enthusiasts. How about that?
Luca Gacy (06:49):
I’ve been playing board games my whole life. I love board games and my whole family, we have a whole wall full of board games, so definitely been doing that my whole life, which has been super, super fun. And then the game that I’m actually designing this controller for as well as I do plan on expanding to other games, but Super Smash Brothers Manley, it was actually the very first game I ever had when I was a kid. Got it. For 20 bucks at an easy pun. I was probably 10 or 12 years old. Mali’s
Kevin Douglas (07:16):
The Game Cube version.
Luca Gacy (07:18):
Yeah. Yeah. Okay. But yeah, I’ve been playing games and modding controllers pretty much, yeah, probably since I was 12 or 13, just putting LEDs and spray painting cases and a bunch of that stuff, which is fun. So yeah, I’ve been doing what I’ve been doing for a while, but it’s just never really thought. It’s all just been for fun just because it’s what I enjoy doing. I barely actually play that many video games now just because, funny enough, almost all of that time that used to go towards video games is now going towards starting this business, but honestly, it’s very fulfilling and it, it’s scratches the same kind of itch because it, I’m still in the same community, which is nice because I haven’t gone into tournaments since I was 13. I haven’t never been very good, but it’s still super fun to just go, you
Kevin Douglas (08:07):
Get to meet other people that are passionate. Yeah,
Luca Gacy (08:10):
Get to, and all your friends go into a car. You just blast music on the way there. You just get absolutely destroyed in the bracket, but then you just get to hang out with people and it’s just super fun. So the idea of being able to give back in that space and be a part of that space, especially if I can, I would love to. I do plan on sending my controller to some pro players and potentially sponsoring being a sponsor for tournaments and stuff like that. If I add to the prize bowl, I think that’d be kind of cool. Obviously I want to be a successful business. I want to be able to make money doing it, but it really is my main goal is to really just provide this actually really good thing to a community I’ve been a part of for so long.
Kevin Douglas (08:52):
What’s, I’m curious how many of these you’ve gotten out into other people in the community, how many people have seen it, what the response has been like, has there been hesitance because it’s this new approach to something maybe they hold very sacred or are people really enthusiastic about it?
Luca Gacy (09:09):
The answer to that question’s probably more complicated than it should be, but I’ve shown it to a bunch of people. I’ve had one prototype, which has been pretty much completely done for a while, and I’ve brought it to a couple tournaments and people I’ve heard nothing but really, really great feedback, which is nice. There’s one tiny thing which people, I’ve had a couple people recommend, which I would like to implement. I just don’t have the tool to be able to actually do it right now. I’ve had a lot of people, it’s like, if you’re selling these, I will buy one right now. It was like, that’s cool. All right. And so I’ve, I’ve shown to a bunch of people and then right now I am in the process of, I have have a stock of around 14 controllers right now, and I’m going to sell those as beta units, so it’ll be like 30% off. But then with the idea of would you be willing to meet up with me in a month, and then just tell me your experience with this controller, is there anything you, did you really, is there anything you didn’t like to Yeah, kind of
Kevin Douglas (10:03):
A focus group.
Luca Gacy (10:04):
Yeah, exactly. Yeah, kind of the main focus of my brand is to be fully customizable and obviously there’s going to be a markup because I can’t build any controllers before people have designed them. I can build parts of them, but people will be able to design the front decal and the buttons and some of the internals. So these are 80% disassembled per order, so it takes a lot of time and I have to print and cut out stuff.
Kevin Douglas (10:30):
And if you get flooded with orders all at the same time, it’s like it’s going to be a pretty long wait time for folks.
Luca Gacy (10:34):
So that’s like I’ve showed to a bunch of people and every single time people are like, this is going to be crazy, which is cool to hear. I don’t believe it until it actually happens.
Kevin Douglas (10:46):
It’s a great community that you’re building this product for because it already seems very collaborative and very grassroots.
Luca Gacy (10:52):
Kevin Douglas (10:53):
Absolutely. And so I think same think a lot of people starting businesses in other industries, dream of having a network of people that would be so responsive for something like this. Because when I think of people that are so open to give feedback, sometimes negatively, but I think of people that are into games and they’re just so knowledgeable.
Luca Gacy (11:13):
Kevin Douglas (11:14):
Great. A great resource for you creating this product, whereas someone may be developing a new ride share app, might have trouble finding people that are actually going to be giving them valuable insight.
Luca Gacy (11:27):
Absolutely. That’s one of the nice things about specifically the mail community is that mail’s a great game, but it has its flaws and almost, almost all those flaws lie within the way that it actually processes controller inputs to the point where just a normal outof, the box game keep controller can range wildly in quality of controller. If there’s all of these different issues which come up within these controllers, then the odds of getting an actually is just a perfect game. Pee controller out of the box is probably one in 50. Really? Yeah. So people will literally spend $300, 300 to $400 on like OEM game pee controllers, but that is just like they’re perfect and they’re just these minute characteristics. So a lot of this match community is very, very particular about the controllers. I’m not saying everyone’s an expert, but people have really high standards and it needs to be able to do specific things very, very consistently.
I value that opinion is very, very valuable. And the fact that it’s literally a Discord DM away of being like, Hey, would you be willing to look at this is pretty cool. And that’s kind of the idea with these beta units. I could maybe give them out for free, but it’s like that is a ton of money for me to give to a ton of people that I still, I, they’re in the same community, but a lot of these people I have never met in person before. So it’s to give that much away is a little,
Kevin Douglas (12:49):
Yeah, you got to, you’ve put in that much work. And if it’s something that people can still, even if it’s in beta, it seems like something that people will still get value out of. Oh yeah, definitely. You don’t want to undervalue yourself. Absolutely.
Luca Gacy (13:01):
Yeah. Which is the biggest thing that every startup does is like,
Kevin Douglas (13:05):
Oh my gosh.
Luca Gacy (13:05):
Yeah, everyone, the original price of the controller was like $180 and every single price I brought to, I went over to Vegas over the summer for a tournament, just like to bring a prototype and to get people’s feedback, and they were like, how much are you planning on charging for these? And I was like, $180. And they’re like, why of, I spent a lot of time, and I do think it is legitimately equal to or better than everything else that’s on the market right now from just a materials and software perspective. And then that would put it at the second cheapest controller on the market. There’s not that much. Well, one of the things is that the market is very, very scarce of the fact that there really only are, there’s two companies kind of three that make these controllers and it’s like zero kind of customization between them. So it was kind of weird to have mine, which is very customizable, and then also be cheaper and have better hardware. It will literally just be confusing to people of why is it so cheap? It might even put people off, which is kind of weird. Do you
Kevin Douglas (14:12):
Think there’s a world where you could have non customizable models that are cheaper for people on a budget and then you charge more for the customized models?
Luca Gacy (14:22):
Yeah, I really do want to do that. I’m kind of taking the Tesla approach right now of the fact that I just can’t produce that many right now of everything has been designed around what do I have access to right now with the resources at du and then also what is trying to design it so that it’s scalable, but also I’m still one person. I have someone, I have a couple friends who were on standby who would be ready to quit their job and help me, which is cool. I did not ask her this. Wow. But it’s cool to get other people enthusiastic about it, I think is a good sign. Absolutely.
But I also realized that once I open the doors, I’m almost everyone who I’ve said this is, a lot of people have tried starting businesses of these of just small scale controller monitors and stuff like that, and they are just run horribly, and it’s just been a terrible customer experience. I had a bunch of people tell me that they’re like, it is most likely that I will run to the problem of way more people are going to want these controller than I’ll actually be able to provide. And that is a problem. It sounds like a good problem, but it’s not really. It’s like you want to able,
Kevin Douglas (15:32):
People will move on to something else if they can’t get that from you.
Luca Gacy (15:35):
Kevin Douglas (15:36):
I want to get to the entrepreneurship side of it, what problem it’s solving in the market, because clearly the need for it is there or the desire for it is there. So what is that problem that it’s solving and why is it so well known by the gaming community? And then what has been maybe the biggest obstacle besides the overwhelming number of people that
Luca Gacy (16:00):
Kevin Douglas (16:00):
Interested, hopefully. But in just the proc, the step you are in now, what has been the biggest obstacle to this point?
Luca Gacy (16:08):
So the main problem that it’s solving is, and I touched a little bit on it earlier, that the game two controllers are trash, most controllers are not great, and most of the problems lie within ergonomics and the joystick just because they were never really designed to be used for super long periods of time, they were designed with the intent of like, oh, you play casually for maybe an hour or two and then you’re done. And then now it’s like, okay, people play very intensely for 10 hours a day because that’s what you need to do to be able to stay at the top level of whatever eSports you’re playing. So
Kevin Douglas (16:47):
It’s making the ability to do basic mechanics in the game, like a combo more
Luca Gacy (16:52):
Difficult. So most of these problems lie within the joystick. Basically, joysticks are just, they’re great for casual gaming and just not, and then they are pretty inconsistent when it comes to anything competitive. And there’s just so many different issues of they often can’t reach the full distance. They may off. So if you fully press the stick to the side, it may only be at 98%, which is close. But that also means if you’re in a competitive game, that means your character will, if you have a controller that can reach a hundred percent of the distance and then your opponent has one that can only reach 98%, that means your character will literally run faster and live longer just by a little bit. But it’s like before you’ve even started the game, you’re already at a disadvantage, which is not great. And there’s all these different issues of just being able to achieve specific angles with consistency is really important.
In pretty much every single game, there’s almost always going to be a specific angle you want to be able to hit consistently to the point where people will actually notch their controllers. So they’ll take a file and then file a little groove in the case of the controller so janky, they’ll file a groove in the controller so that way the joystick can sit in that groove and hit that specific angle, but a drift over time. So you have to literally, some people notch their controller every day. Whoa. Which is crazy. And it takes hours and there’s probably less than 10 people who can actually do it in America right now. So gotten so bad. And then people will also put capacitors in their controllers to try to solve some of these issues of all these different mods to try to retrofit these game keeping controllers so that way they’re actually usable for top play. And it’s gone to the point where people are literally spending five, $600 for these custom controllers, and they may only last three or four weeks before they have to either get it retuned, right, or just buy a new one, which is crazy.
Kevin Douglas (18:39):
It’s the same mechanics, the ones that we’re breaking had. So yours is a better design. Why? What is the layout and how can someone who’s listening to this, how can they picture it looking?
Luca Gacy (18:50):
Yeah, and the other part about it is that regular controllers are not very ergonomic either. The original design for my style controller, which is called a digital controller, which I’ll explain in a second, was designed for ergonomics because a player got arthritis when he was 23 and nobody should be getting arthritis in their 23 legs. Then they literally said, you can’t play this game anymore. And he’s like, I’m going to find a way. So he developed this, it basically looks like a minimalistic keyboard on your computer where it effectively has, if you have your hands in a neutral position in front of you, it basically just has buttons only underneath, underneath your fingers. So that way you have to move your hands as little as possible when using the controller, but it only has 20 switches rather than a normal cub, which has around 80 and a sleigh, more ergonomical layout, not just out of a brick like a keyboard is.
Kevin Douglas (19:48):
And then you’re achieving the customized designs through 3D printing.
Luca Gacy (19:52):
So basically the controller is built a combination of laser cut acrylic and 3D printed parts. And one of the great things about acrylic is that you can buy it with it being completely clear. So basically I’ll have, there’s a printed paper layer, which also gets laser cut into the exact dimensions of the controller, and then basically the rest of the controller, the, the exterior is basically all acrylic, which is great. It’s really, really durable. It is a little expensive, but just the quality of the material is really, really strong. The controller feels really, it’s really, it’s a good weight to it. I think it weighs around three pounds, basically. You kind of play with a controller in your lap, and then it’s as if you’re playing a keyboard. Very similar motions. I’m actually planning on me, my mom’s a piano teacher and her piano teacher does this technique called, is a teacher of this technique called taman, which is all hand health and piano, because that is a huge problem within the piano performance world of people just careers, half lives being pretty small just because of these hand health problems.
So there’s a lot of techniques that they use for mini minimizing hand movements and just healthy movements and all that stuff. And it’s kind of interesting because a lot of those techniques are very similar to typing as well as using this controller, which is fairly similar. The whole way that you move your hands in and out of the keyboard is very important. So all of that information I’m planning on coming to her with some, these are some popular or common motions that happen within these games. What are some effective ways of doing that? And so I can create some resources on how to use these controllers with the intention of hand health and being able to play for long periods of time. I definitely went off on a tangent there. I didn’t feel like
Kevin Douglas (21:47):
It’s all good. I did want to ask, and I think you talked about it a little bit, it was before I hit record, other people in your family who are entrepreneurial and how you’ve wanted to start a business before this one. Have you ever done anything, start a lemonade stand when you were a kid? Or didn’t you used to run this smash tournaments here at du? Am I mistaken?
Luca Gacy (22:08):
I didn’t run the smash tournaments here at du, but I did. I started a smash club in high school, which I think is still happening somehow. There you go. And I haven’t started anything before, but yeah, I did join the Creativity Entrepreneurship LLC when I was a freshman with Michael Caston, and then my uncle also started his own business.
Kevin Douglas (22:31):
Has he given you many much advice as you’ve been starting your business?
Luca Gacy (22:35):
So he did at the very beginning and had some good advice. It’s been a while since I’ve had to, I’ve been kind of in this same part for a while and I know the next step I need to do, and I know roughly how I want to do it. So I want to have started, hopefully start, actually start selling them and then reach out to him. And then it is ultimately different because mine is hardware and he sells software of, so it’s because he doesn’t sell physical products, and there’s a lot that goes into that of packaging. I hate having to try to figure out packaging. It’s like, no, where do you learn this? I don’t know. The answer is
Kevin Douglas (23:16):
Teaching yourself or, yeah, that’s what being an entrepreneur
Luca Gacy (23:19):
Is. Yeah. So I knew I wanted to start a business for a while, but I just couldn’t think of what I would, I should be good. I felt like I was just painting the bulls I had, I knew want to start a business. I like these things, but I didn’t really have a product in mind because this wasn’t even supposed to be a business. It was just because I wanted to build one for myself and I just couldn’t get one.
Kevin Douglas (23:44):
I think mean just that alone is such a fascinating way to fall into this because it’s not even, this is a problem in the market and I’m going to fill the void by starting my own business. It was literally just, I want this for myself. I can’t get it. I’m just going to do it. And I love hearing about people that a lot of people during the pandemic especially just were like, oh, I have this time to actually start this venture. I think it’s really cool. And organic that you not having the entrepreneurship minor, you not getting a degree in the business school, but still having that desire to start a business that you knew that about yourself even though you weren’t taking classes for it. Yeah. I’m kind of similar because I didn’t take any classes and then I wound up doing a master’s in management, but that was more cause it felt like the most liberal arts of the business school things that I could be doing. And now I’m running a theater company full fledged, never thought I would be. That is so cool. So I think it’s very impressive that I think a lot of people listening will resonate with that and people that are out there that I’m sure everyone can think of, that thing they’re passionate about and yeah, it’s possible to just do it.
Luca Gacy (24:58):
Yeah, definitely. I think a lot more people should try to start businesses than actually do them, of the
Kevin Douglas (25:07):
Fact that people get the idea, but they don’t take the leap.
Luca Gacy (25:10):
Yeah. And I think just having a start from a hobby is really good. I think that everyone has a hobby. Oh, if not people should get
Kevin Douglas (25:22):
Then no one,
Luca Gacy (25:24):
But pretty much everyone has a hobby. Almost every hobby will have it sounds, but even just minor inconveniences. Right. They’ll, they’ll be, they’ll just be certain things, which just could be, I’m trying to think of another example outside of stuff that I do. It’s kind of funny now because I also try to make music on the side, which is fun. And now that I’ve been working on this, I really want to make a custom mid controller or a custom key piano keyboard basically. Oh, cool. That’s travel size that, but still has decent, I have
Kevin Douglas (26:01):
A little more than Garage band gives you,
Luca Gacy (26:03):
But yeah, yeah, yeah. I have this, now that I’ve worked with, I’ve, I’ve used several different keyboards. I’ve used several different softwares, so I kind of know what I like and it’s the exact thing. I’m quickly realizing that a lot of the things that I want doesn’t actually exist and it’s, but I could make it myself and I think I could make it.
Kevin Douglas (26:24):
You’ve got the brain of an entrepreneur. It’s a gift and a curse. Cause I have so many ventures I start and then never finish because it’s like you get it and then you’re doing it, but then you find something else that you were like, oh, this is more feasible, or Your attention just shifts. But I hope that pans out for you. That sounds like a great idea.
Luca Gacy (26:43):
I hope so. I think about a year ago I started getting really fed up with myself of, I felt like I had just a bunch of unfinished projects. I had the amount of different products, I had projects that I had of that were just 80% done. And then it was just lose interest at the end, at the rent, the finish line. Yeah. And it was just so many different things, and I was just getting super fed up with these unfinished projects. So I kind of had a news resolution last June, me or something or so of just being like, all right, I’m not doing this anymore. I projects that I start, I will see through to the end and if I’ll, I’ll know what the end is. It doesn’t have to succeed, but I just need to see it through to the end of, it’s like with this business, if I open up my shop at the beginning of the summer and I sell five, and then it peters out, then it’s like,
Kevin Douglas (27:40):
You got your answer. I
Luca Gacy (27:41):
Got it. And then you move on
Kevin Douglas (27:42):
To the keyboard.
Luca Gacy (27:43):
Exactly. Exactly. And it’s like, that’s fine. It’s, I will know that I at least left everything on the table at that point. I’m not, well, yeah, if it fails, then it’s like, okay, I’ll take what I learned from it, keep moving, and I’ve, the next thing I do, I’ll be able to do it 10 times better and 10 times faster. I’ll just, because I’ve made so many mistakes already, and they’re just mistakes that you pretty much have to make. There’s so many things that people tell you and then you’re just like, yeah, I hear you. And then you just told, but this doesn’t apply to me though because I’m special. And then just immediately, it just blows up in your face. So okay, I can learn from these. But there’s still so many more aspects of it, of the fact that most of the process right now has been product development.
It hasn’t been advertising or customer support or packaging or any of that stuff. And getting feedback is nice and just kind of prepping everything for opening those doors. But it’s about to hit the next big chapter of, okay, the first set of controllers that I actually do end up selling, I do have high standards for this controller, so if I’m satisfied with it, there’s a very high likelihood that other people are satisfied with it as well, which is good. But at the same time, it is, that’s still incredibly anecdotal of just my own experiences, and it’s not something to bank off. Even if I do have high standards, people may have different standards and they may be closer to the average consumer, so it, I’d be able to modify it so that way it’s a better product for the average person rather than just being a better product for me. Yeah. Well,
Kevin Douglas (29:12):
You won’t know until you get there. And that’s part of just, I love what you said about, you know, make the mistakes and then you learn from it and you do it better the next time because that’s what it’s all about. And that’s what separates the startups that succeed in the startups that don’t. Is those obstacles that you encounter, is it a lesson learned or is it a roadblock that makes you turn around?
Luca Gacy (29:32):
Yep. Yeah. And that’s, that’s really how I’ve been seeing everything. And there’s like, it is frustrating. There’s also just money lost everywhere, every turn. It
Kevin Douglas (29:43):
Takes so much money.
Luca Gacy (29:43):
It’s just like, oh my God. But I just keep telling myself, it’s like every other startup has to go through this. Zero exceptions. Nobody gets around this. You have to do this. If I’m paying, if I’m hiring someone, it’s like if I’m paying them $20 an hour, that doesn’t cost me $20 an hour, that cost me like $26 an hour. And it’s like then, oh, am I paying for shipping? Everyone expects free shipping now this, and that’s like 20 bucks or 15 bucks and not for packaging and stuff like that. This is money loss to every, you
Kevin Douglas (30:11):
Just don’t think of it till you get there. You’re like, oh wait. Yeah. So much more to account for.
Luca Gacy (30:14):
Absolutely. Yeah. And one of the other things of the people of new businesses always valuing their product just makes those problems 10 times worse because then it’s like you might sell it at three times the price that it costs to make it, but then it, there’s like, there’s the man hours and then there’s the taxes, and there’s all these different things, and it’s just like, ah,
Kevin Douglas (30:33):
Pretty soon you’re not making any money at all. Yeah,
Luca Gacy (30:34):
Exactly. So you really, that’s like, okay. I mean, that’s why a iPhone cost $250 worth of components, but they’re like 1500.
Kevin Douglas (30:42):
There’s still so many more
Luca Gacy (30:44):
Things go into it.
Kevin Douglas (30:45):
Expenses. I want to ask you some of the rapid fire questions we give all our guests. So how do you define success?
Luca Gacy (30:54):
Honestly, this is actually a dream job for me if this works of making these custom game controllers, literally, if I can pay for rent food and be able to have fun a little bit on the side, honestly, I’m really happy with what I have right now. So if I can continue to live the lifestyle of in living while doing this business, that would be really
Kevin Douglas (31:12):
Cool. The work itself is fulfilling. Yeah,
Luca Gacy (31:14):
Kevin Douglas (31:15):
I was talking to my friend who’s an actor yesterday, and he was saying how good it is to make money f from the thing you’re passionate about and how if you make a living doing what you’re passionate about, it’s haven’t, you’re not work, not going to work a day in your
Luca Gacy (31:28):
Life. It doesn’t, yeah, it’s never
Kevin Douglas (31:29):
Cliche, but it’s really true. The fact that you’ve made it this far and you’re losing money, but you’re saying it doesn’t feel like work. A hundred percent true. Yeah. The other rap, a rapid fire question is what is the best or worst advice you’ve ever gotten? And that could be in the context of this business or just life advice you’ve gotten.
Luca Gacy (31:47):
I think, I forget who told someone who, someone told me this though, and it just sound of weird, of basically the exact opposite of what you said, which was they’re the minute that you start doing something you love. So the minute you start making money from doing something you love, it becomes a job and you won’t like it anymore. Interesting. I was like, what? It’s like, no, that’s
Kevin Douglas (32:09):
An interesting perspective. Yeah.
Luca Gacy (32:11):
It just blows my mind of, I don’t know. I think being able to live and breathe the thing that you are legitimately passionate about, and the fact that you get to do that every day and immerse yourself and really commit yourself to that sounds amazing. And the quality of work will be better. And I think that just everything about your life will be better if you’re actually getting to do what you love doing. It doesn’t have to only be on the weekends or vacations.
Kevin Douglas (32:33):
Yeah. I think it’s also telling if something you love to do becomes a chore, maybe that’s not the thing you’re meant to do 24 7, and that’s
Luca Gacy (32:40):
Okay. I don’t think you ever really liked that thing in the first place. Right? Yeah. So obviously I need to be able to make money to make a living, but it really isn’t the goal I want to be. If I get to just, I love just work working on this, I will literally, it’s bad sometimes I’ll be in, especially because I work really weird hours where I’ll be in the maker space, I’ll start in the maker space near 9:00 PM and then work until 4:00 AM I shouldn’t do that, but it’s also the only time I have access to it. But when it’s 4:00 AM I am, I’m not tired. This is weird. I literally have to force myself to go home and get sleep, so that way tomorrow be doesnt hate it. Yeah. I’m like, it’s super fun. And don’t get me wrong, some days suck, obviously, but for the most part it’s really, really fun and enough if this is what I get to do. That’s super cool.
Kevin Douglas (33:30):
I mean, I was listening to an, it’s funny because it’s like I keep finding connections from things that don’t feel like they should be related at all, but they totally are. This audiobook about meditation and the connection of that and breaking bad habits. But there’s specifically a chapter about what’s called the flow and activities and past times that you get so honed in, you don’t notice time passing and you have complete full presence with the project you’re doing. And because of that, suddenly three hours have passed. And it sounds like for you, that’s what this is.
Luca Gacy (34:03):
Absolutely. You get
Kevin Douglas (34:04):
Into a flow where suddenly six hours have passed and it’s four o’clock in the morning and you’re like, I need to go sleep. But I understand that when I’m really into writing a scene or something. Yeah. So I love that for you. I love that there’s the potential of making money from that for you. So I hope that that works out. Where can people connect with you? Does ICEBOX have any social media presence yet? Or a website?
Luca Gacy (34:29):
Yeah, we have a website, which is ICEBOX controllers.com controllers with an S like that that’ll link to my Discord server. I do plan on making other social media stuff. I plan on making a YouTube channel for it as well, because I, another thing about these controllers is there’s weirdly very few resources on how to actually use them properly, which is weird. So I want to make a bunch of resources. I’d like to tutorials, tutorials and explanations and technique guides and stuff like that on how to use these controllers, because you still have to use specific techniques for them to be good for your hands because there’s like, you still have to be mindful of that stuff. So I want to have, yeah, I’m just definitely going to make a YouTube channel, Instagram, Twitter, and all that stuff. But right now, ICEBOX controllers.com, you can email me at luca gacy ICEBOX controllers.com if you have any at queries or something like that.
Kevin Douglas (35:21):
Awesome. Well, we’re really excited to see where it goes from here, and we’re so, so excited to have students using the Entrepreneurship@DU Resources. So thanks for coming to the studio. It was a great chat with you, and we wish you the best of luck.
Luca Gacy (35:34):
Thank you very much.
Kevin Douglas (35:39):
The Entrepreneurship@DU podcast was recorded in Marjorie Reed Hall on the University of Denver campus. You can find us on Instagram at du entrepreneur, on Twitter, at underscore entrepreneur, and on Facebook at Entrepreneurship@DU entrepreneurship. At DU is part of the Daniels College of Business, which has its own podcast. By the way. Check out Voices of Experience available wherever you get your podcasts.