How we got an Epic Mega Grant
How we composed our application and insights, that can help you when applying for Epic Mega Grant to fund your next project.
Epic has created a $100 million fund called MegaGrant to support teams and individuals who are working on Unreal Engine related projects. This is the case for Anchorpoint, so we applied and got lucky. Making an application that stands out is difficult. We applied at a very early stage of our company where we did not have paying customers and our product was far from perfect. We had to put a lot of energy in making a good pitch. Here we would like to share some insights which can help you for your own application.
🔍 What Epic is looking for
You have to know your audience and their intentions why they are giving you money. Epic, of course, wants to grow the user base of Unreal Engine and is pushing to new market segments (Virtual Production, AEC AR/VR). So the most important question is: What is the benefit for Epic? In our case, it was collaboration. A lot of artists outside the game industry have never worked with version control and asset management systems. Using Unreal Engine on a team project, they have to deal with Git, Perforce, SVN etc. So anything that makes that easier, will improve the adoption of Unreal Engine in teams.
🧑🤝🧑 Does it support the community?
Everything that benefits the Unreal Engine community is a benefit for Epic. If you are building open-source software, you have a direct answer for this question. This was not applicable in our case. However, we planned to offer a free version for single users and teams that work on open-source projects. Furthermore, we were contributing to open-source projects like Gitea and libgit2, so we had a solid argument.
✔️ Can you prove it?
Epic wants to know if you really can deliver what you promise. Either you have already a name in the industry, a community with thousands of subscribers, or an almost finished product with a small amount of users. When we applied, we had a running alpha version and fortunately a Discord server with almost 200 members and a fresh new website.
Preparing the application
Filling out the form on their website is the easiest part. The hard, but most important part, was making a good video - the core of the pitch. Our founder Matthäus spend two weeks on story creation, constant re-recording and editing.
📝 The story
It took a while to come up with a good personalized story. We found a tutorial published by Epic on source control, which was comparing different systems. The instructor was talking mostly about Git and mentioned several pros and cons. We picked up all the cons and explained how we solve them with Anchorpoint. A good hook and prove that we tackle a real problem.
📹 Recording the video
It gets really personal, when you as a founder have to present your product which is still far from perfect, convincingly and credibly 😔. But it’s so important, because you want to make a personal connection with the person, who is watching that video and deciding whether they want to invest in you. You want to show passion and be believable. That’s why this part took a lot of iterations.
In the next step, we made screen recordings of the current state of Anchorpoint. Because the product was crashing and had a lot of glitches at that time, we had to do some After Effects magic on top. Remember that this video is being watched approx. three months from now. So it is okay to adjust things, because your product will be better in three months.
Once the video was done, we published it unlisted on YouTube. This is exactly the video we submitted to Epic. 👇
✍️ The written application
The crucial question for your written application that you will ask your self: How much money can I ask for? Ask for more than you think. It’s always intimidating to ask for money (even from a company which is willing to give). We also thought that chances of getting the grant were better if we asked for less money. That’s a feeling, and it’s wrong. Luckily, a friend motivated us to ask for more. It’s also important to explain for what you need the money.
In our case, it is salaries. Developers are expensive, and so is content marketing.
What we included in the application form
- The problem we want to solve, which is collaboration on Unreal Engine projects by providing an asset management solution and an artist friendly Git client
- To give back to the community, we want to provide a free forever version for single artists and contribute to open-source projects
- Who we are. A little bio about us with links to LinkedIn profiles
- What we achieved so far
- What we wanted to do with the money. Precisely, we wanted to show previews for Unreal Engine files, building an integration and improving the UX of Anchorpoint. We also wrote down a quarter-based milestone plan, which only had 2-3 bullet points for each quarter.
The build (the current state of the product)
As a developer, this is your baby that you are proud (or not yet proud) of. You believe that the quality of the product is the most crucial part when it comes to the decision. But we think the opposite is true. As an Epic employee, you have to scan hundreds of applications, so installing your software or game just slows down the process. That’s why it is more important to put energy in the video, because it is consumed easier.
At this point, we didn't even have an installer and just shared a Dropbox folder with a ZIP file in it.
We submitted our application by the end of February. We knew it would take at least 90 days to get a response. The first response came in early June, just saying that Epic needs more time.
Summer passed and we even forgot about our submission. We honestly lost all hope because there was still no response.
September 4, 2021
Suddenly, an email landed in Matthäus inbox. From “Epic MegaGrants”, subject “Congratulations”. We freaked out, partied all night, and had hangovers the next day. We simply did not expect that.
After receiving the confirmation, some tax and paper formalities are still needed to transfer the funds. It took another month until we received the official letter. From then on, you are free to talk about it publicly.
We really want to thank Epic Games for their generosity and are on a mission to simplify collaboration on Unreal Engine projects. We hope you were able to take away some inspiration from this article and consider submitting your project for an Epic MegaGrant. Feel free to reach out to us for help. Good Luck 🚀
How to collaborate in Unreal Engine 5
An explanation of source control for artists, focusing on Git and Unreal Engine 5.
Version control using Git and Azure DevOps
In this article we will set up a Git server on Azure DevOps, that will be the source of truth for your next game project