Founder Interview: Pretty Simple’s Corentin Raux on building on Criminal Case’s massive success

Aug 23, 2013
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Throughout the month of August, the Rude Baguette will be running a series of interviews with some of France’s top and rising entrepreneurs, where they’ll share their reflections on their year thus far, their plans through the end of the year and how they manage their businesses through the August down period. In this installment, we talk with Pretty Simple Games cofounder Corentin Raux.

The runaway success of Pretty Simple Games’ Criminal Case has easily been one of the biggest stories in the gaming sector over the past year. Having launched less than a year ago, it’s now the #2 game on Facebook and has 9 million DAU (as of June), coming from all over the globe. Founders Corentin Raux and Bastien Cazenave and their ever-expanding, highly international team have grown Pretty Simple Games into one of France’s biggest startup success stories yet.  In this installment of our August Founders Series, cofounder Corentin Raux discusses how they’ve achieved success so quickly, the ever-important next step of developing Criminal Case into a franchise and the importance of building the right team.

corentinWhat have been the big accomplishments for Pretty Simple since the beginning of the year?

Our biggest accomplishment this year is no doubt the success of Criminal Case, our social game of police investigation. The first semester of this year saw the game soar to #2 most played game on Facebook and reach 9M daily active players. It’s not something that happened overnight though, as Criminal Case had been a year and a half in the works before we published it. The team kept working hard on it since, and we publish one new investigation each week.

Another big accomplishment is growing the team. We were just over 30 people at the start of 2013, and we are 45 now. Finding talented people to come make games with us in Paris is our priority this year, and we’re well on the path of meeting our objective of being a team of 80 people next year.

What are your goals for the end of the year?

Well, first there’s the team, as we are all about finding the right people to come and join us. There are some very interesting opportunities right now as our team is still relatively small, and we’re growing fast. We’re building up our whole team, from mobile developers to game artists, in order to tackle more projects. We’re recruiting in France and abroad, and our team is becoming more and more international.

Our second main goal is to continue developing Criminal Case into a franchise, both with our ongoing work on the Facebook version and with creating Criminal Case for iPad and iPhone. We’ve just announced we were planning to release this mobile version in January 2014.

What have you learned this year that you think every entrepreneur should know?

We learned that it is not enough to launch a good product, and that making a product successful requires a lot of work and energy after launch. Bringing Criminal Case from 0 to 9 millions daily players was actually even harder work than developing it in the first place. There were details to correct and optimize everywhere, and this is work that can only be done when the product is actually tested by the market.

With regards to team building, I knew in advance that each single recruitment is crucial. As we grew to 45 people this year though, this view has been confirmed and I can’t stress enough how every hire counts.

How does your company handle vacation & the August down period?

We are very demanding with ourselves because we want to make good products, and we each need to be responsible with the work that needs to be done. But this is a two way street, and people can ask for their vacation time up to the day before they leave, and that’s fine. And yes, the office is quieter in August!