Copyright Trailmix

Berlin chose us

Creative Director Christopher Parschat, Studio Director Annelie Biernat and CEO and Co-Founder Carolin Krenzer, Trailmix Games

Founded in 2017 in London by veterans of the industry, Trailmix Games is set to make mobile games a rich, deep, and long-lasting experience for every player out there. We talked to CEO & Co-Founder Carolin Krenzer and Studio Director Annelie Biernat about their newly opened studio in Berlin, what advice they would give to investment-seeking indies, and how they will tackle the key challenge of the industry in 2024.

1. @Carolin: Having worked extensively at EA and King in London, why was it time to found your own studio?

My experience working at Playfish (EA) and King equipped me with a wealth of experience in building and growing amazing teams, as well as creating, releasing, and operating highly successful games. My co-founder Tristan and I have witnessed the power of mobile games at King, their reach and the impact they can have. We also strongly believed in the importance of working in an inclusive, diverse, supportive and safe environment which is based on trust and respect. In 2017, we felt that there were not enough studios and company leaders who genuinely cared about their teams and audiences, and we wanted to change that.

2. Why did you choose Berlin as your second base?

I think Berlin chose us.

Firstly, Annelie, Christopher, and the rest of the team live in Berlin. They are not only incredibly experienced and talented, but also share the same strong values and believe in our purpose as a company. We knew that we had to work together.

Secondly, Berlin is an incredible city, and I would argue that London and Berlin are the most exciting, diverse, and interesting cities in Europe, so it was a great match. Berlin allows us to tap into a whole new talent pool, and post-Brexit, it allows us to hire a lot of people from within the EU, whom we would not easily be able to move to London.

Lastly, I am originally from Germany, and after having lived abroad for the last 20 years, it's fun to reconnect with my country of origin.

3. How does the (company) culture of London influence the studio development in Berlin?

We take great pride in the strong company culture at Trailmix, and it is extremely important to us that we uphold these values and beliefs every day. The Berlin team shares these values and beliefs, and we are all united by our purpose of creating delightful, safe, and nourishing spaces for our team and players. Culture is a dynamic entity, and the Berlin team will greatly enhance our culture with their unique perspectives and flavour.

4. @Annelie: Having collected over a decade of experience at Wooga, why did you decide to take the position as Studio Director at Trailmix?

It’s been a great decade and I will be forever grateful to Wooga and the incredibly smart talent I worked with for the best career start in games that I could have wished for, but at some point it is time to leave the comfort zone to aim for a bigger impact.

In 2021, I played Trailmix’s first game “Love & Pies” and immediately liked the whole experience. I could sense all the passion and love to detail that went into it and became curious about the team behind it. When I later got the chance to meet Carolin and Tristan, I felt immediately aligned with their vision for games and Trailmix as a company. Since then, I knew that if Trailmix ever opens a Berlin studio - I want to join them and also help bring more unique games like Love & Pies to millions of players.

Turns out studio’s don’t just magically open, so after hearing from Carolin that this could be an option, I went ahead to pitch a plan together with my colleague Christopher and we made it happen in October 2023.

5. You managed to secure $4.2 million in investments by Supercell in 2018. What advice would you give to investment-seeking indie studios and what has the collaboration been like with Supercell?

Get advice and then ignore it. A lot of people told us that going with a strategic investor at seed stage is a bad idea. We did all of this - building a company from scratch and raising money - for the first time so we were unsure who to listen to. Our gut or external advice. However, once we spent more time with Supercell we knew that they were the right investor for us. It was the perfect match and working with them allowed us to execute on our vision without distractions. It’s been a joy working with them. I am glad we ignored the advice and had a good feeling for what Trailmix needed to be successful.

6. You found a power duo to open up the studio and the funding is secured. Were there any challenges along the way?

Forming a new team is always a key challenge in game development. Creating a safe environment that fosters teamwork and creativity, while also filling important roles on the team to actually deliver on the ideas formed can be a test of patience and resilience.

Any rushed decision is dangerous, because especially if you have less than 10 people, every hired talent has an incredible impact not only on the game, but also on the overall Studio culture. Ideally everyone brings slightly different strengths and competences into the team, but also perspectives on why and how we should work together. Group think is as dangerous as constantly opposing opinions. It is key to not just look at a task at hand but also at the context under which a person has to work efficiently. This can be at times even a question of ambitions rather than proven skills.

Every applicant at Trailmix has to go through a multi-step process that allows us and the candidates to thoroughly assess the mutual fit. The London team supported greatly in assessing hard skills and team fit to make sure every team member in Berlin is also a great fit for Trailmix overall.

We are proud to say that thanks to this rigorous process and amazing talent pool in Berlin, our current team and committed hires turned out to be a very diverse bunch with over 60% being female and a different 50% being parents. While none of our team members had to relocate to work with us in our office-first working set- up, our 8 “Berliners” happen to come from 7 different countries and have a whopping average of 10+ years of experience of working on vastly different games.

7. Your first game Love & Pies is a mobile merge game. What makes it different from the vast competition?

Every single person at Trailmix has poured their heart into Love & Pies, and there's a little piece of each amazing team member in the final game. It represents the people we are, the people we love, and the things that make us smile. And our players feel that love. They tell us that Love & Pies stands out because of its incredibly high quality and because they feel seen and connected with their loved ones for the first time through the game and get a lot of joy out of playing. This is incredibly heartwarming for us as developers, and we couldn't be prouder of the game's success.

8. What will be a key challenge for the industry in 2024 and how will Trailmix tackle it?

Thanks to nudges from Apple & Google, our industry has taken important steps towards ensuring user privacy in gaming. Without easy ways to target specific game audiences via advertisements anymore, many game genres took a big hit in their number of downloads.

The amount of players worldwide, however, is growing steadily, so we believe it is merely about new ways to reach them. We are a creative industry and believe that together we can actually find appropriate solutions.

With our broad network to colleagues in other gaming studios in Berlin, we hope to actually share many nice events and discussions this year to hopefully as an industry move away from fake and women in desperate situation ads towards distribution techniques that create engaged and loyal fan bases, which we also see increasingly emerging outside of casual games category and even have seen for decades in entertainment beyond gaming.

Reach out to us via LinkedIn if you would like to join our slack channel to discuss more. This invite goes out to all talent that works in game development and is also located in Berlin as we plan to have occasional in person meet ups.