Meet Fungies: The No-Code Storefront Manager for Gaming Studios
We sat down with Duke Vu, CEO and co-founder of Fungies.io to talk more about what they do and their plans for the future.
Hi Duke, tell us a bit about your personal journey towards founding Fungies.io. How did you get here?
I’d say all my experience in building companies have contributed to setting up Fungies. I started my entrepreneurial journey in 2012 with a marketplace for up-and-coming brands mybaze.com. I grew the company to 25 people and we had over $100k monthly GMV. I’ve learned a lot about building a two-sided marketplace that required building software both for the buyers and sellers. Another experience that contributed to starting Fungies.io was imeshup.com – a SaaS collaboration platform for 3D files in the gaming industry that was too early for its times. Taking that all into account – I think Fungies.io is a “child” of all my previous inventions – it’s my ultimate experience taken into one single entity.
Who is Fungies.io for and what problem are you solving?
Fungies.io helps game developers build their own storefronts or marketplaces with no coding skills required and embeddable ingame. It’s Web2 and Web3 compatible, with now mostly NFT gaming projects traction. We have over 300 NFT storefronts made by our customers, they’ve also imported more than 100k NFT’s onto the platform.
But Web3 and NFT gaming are not our only focus. A lot of indie game developers try to avoid 30% commission from Steam or AppStore – that’s why we’re helping them to build their own distribution channel beginning with a web storefront where they can sell ingame items, digital cdkeys, virtual currencies and more. What’s cool is that the webstore will also be synchronized with ingame store. And the day they want to tip their toes into NFT’s, they can easily do it with us!
How big is the team and why are they a good match for this project?
We’re a 7-people team that’s getting along really well. We have 4 full-stack engineers including our Co-Founder and CTO Wojciech Harzowski. Me and Wojciech met 4 years ago when we were both at Pragmatic Coders – a Blockchain development company. We share a mutual passion in playing MMORPGs like World of Warcraft or Diablo! Another thing we’re super excited about is Web3 and NFT that’s shaking up entire industries. 2 years ago we decided to part ways with our former company and decided to launch our own NFT marketplace ultiarena.com – we had 300 game artists uploading their works as NFT’s as well as more than $200k generated in sales. Sergelen, who’s our UI designer, is a long-time friend of mine. Mateusz our BD Manager, studied at the same university as I did. The other engineers aside from CTO are all based in Cracow and the team regularly goes out for a beer 😉
What did you see as fundamentally wrong with the Gaming industry?
When Steam and AppStore / PlayStore are still able to get away with 30% commission – something’s really wrong! Their positions are now so dominant that game developers essentially have no other choices. We want to be the alternative solution to that – giving tools for game developers to self-publish their games and take home a greater share of their revenue.
What got you interested in working on blockchain?
I started investing in crypto ICO projects in 2018 with a syndicate of friends. Unfortunately all of the projects went bust – but I saw a tremendous opportunity in matching up gaming and blockchain technology. It is a very natural cohesion that ingame assets can be immutable and kept on a public ledger – giving it multiple ways of being traded outside of the games.
What do you think is the biggest problem right now in the gaming market, and how does Fungies.io help solve that issue?
There are a lot of things to fix! AppStore and Steam are still taking 30% commission from game developers and we think that’s a complete rip off. They own the distribution channels but it doesn’t mean game developers should blindly just focus on those channels. They should have a choice to implement any payment methods or storefront using their own tools.
What’s also concerning is the amount of Web3 gaming projects that try to develop their own NFT marketplaces for their games. We’ve seen a lot of them spending $200k+ and more than 6 months to develop their tech in-house. The same projects then later either didn’t have any more funding to actually spend on the game itself or simply just abandoned the project entirely just because they didn’t foresee how hard it would be to make your own NFT marketplace for the game.
Third – and it’s a common problem for both Web2 and Web3 games – is that they lack the front-end development experience to build their own webstore or marketplace, but they are good at what they do best, which is building games.
Lastly, ingame checkouts and stores are still made from scratch. What if there was a ready Unity/Unreal SDK solution that you could just plug into and voila – have your own checkout or ingame item shop in minutes? And what if you don’t have to do the entire User Interface or HUD – but use ready-made templates saving you days of work? And what about monetization analytics? Measuring your user shopping experience, retention, up-selling, cross-selling?
The way I see it – e-commerce has had solutions for the above problems for many years. But gaming commerce is still lagging behind on these aspects. There are still so many challenges to tackle in the gaming industry, especially monetization tools.
Let’s talk more about your products. What would you say distinguishes you from other similar solutions? What is your “killer app?”
What really distinguishes us from other similar solutions – is that we care about speed. With other tools it’s so frustrating to customize your storefront. It just takes a lot of time and nerves to properly set them up.
Our solution is lighting fast and it’s just got a superior user experience. You could set up your store in minutes by using our drag and drop solution. Everything is no-code and well-explained in our guide.
What’s really cool is that we’re both Web2 and Web3 compatible – meaning that we are ready for the future when others are not!
So if you are a game developer in the gaming industry, what do you need to get started with Fungies.io?
Sign up for an account at https://fungies.app/ and start customizing your webstore presence. Choose the right gaming theme and set your own colors, fonts, backgrounds, galleries, game trailers as you want. Integrate Stripe payment and start selling your game’s digital version, ingame items, ingame currencies, bundles or NFT’s.
Once you’re set with your web presence, integrate our Unity and Unreal SDK’s to embed your store or marketplace ingame. Allow players to buy anything from subscriptions, bundles, virtual currencies and items to NFT’s.
We’ll be adding analytics so that you can easily track what your customers are spending on, when they’re coming back and what are your potential options to increase your revenue even more!
What have been your team’s biggest personal or professional challenges in making this project a reality?
My personal challenge is to not get burned out! I’ve met with so many founders who had neglected their personal health, family and friends relationship in the name of building a startup. It’s a marathon and you have to treat yourself as an athlete playing at the highest level. So here are a couple of my takeaways to keep me sane and mentally prepared for the challenges of building your own company:
- Get enough sleep – typically 7-8 hours per day – just sleep as much as you want (but not too much),
- Exercise – keep your body healthy, it also boosts your dopamine to be generally happier with life,
- Human interaction – if you’re having a family like I do, then it’s most certainly you don’t even have time for your friends. But if you don’t have kids, wife – then yes, keeping in contact and going out with your friends from time to time greatly decreases your stress level,
- Eat well – garbage in garbage out, healthy food is essential to keep your mind clear and focused during the day,
- Drink less or don’t drink alcohol at all – even a beer the evening before could make your mind foggy the next morning
Professionally – fundraising is one of the most important roles of the Founder – and it’s always challenging to close a round. But it helps to have a process, large network and lots of patience.
What do you hope Fungies is going to be in 5 years, as a business, or as a technology. What would be your ideal scenario?
Our north-star product and company vision is to be the leading provider of monetization solutions for game developers. We’re talking about everything from checkout systems, ingame stores, web presences, NFT marketplaces as well as analytics.
Another goal is to dominate the Web3 gaming space with our set of tools to transition from Web2 to Web3 along with embeddable NFT marketplaces, wallet solutions and more. This industry will take off for sure – the only question is when.
Has there been a major surprise for you since joining the StartupYard program? Did you learn something you weren’t expecting?
StartupYard has played a major role in our change of strategy to focus more, at least for now, on Web2 game developers. And the structure of the program is also very well designed. No more cramming mentoring sessions in one or two weeks. Just opt-in meeting with mentors that are eager to help. The network is also tremendous, too – a lot of VC connections and warm introductions have been made and we’re super happy about that! I hope one day I can help out future entrepreneurs from the StartupYard’s network, too.