Interview: Stephen Machuga of Operation Supply Drop Jose San Mateo November 12, 2014 Archives This is an interview from Steven Savage a contributor from one of Indie Haven’s partner websites at Crossroads Alpha. Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach. He blogs on careers at http://www.musehack.com/, publishes books on career and culture at http://www.informotron.com/, and does a site of creative tools at http://www.seventhsanctum.com/. He can be reached at http://www.stevensavage.com/. Operation Supply Drop‘s goal is simple – get game care packages to troops in the field and recovering in hospitals. It’s one of several groups supporting US troops – and one you as a gamer can get involved in. Stephen Machuga, aka “Shanghai Six” founded the charity, and was able to take the time to talk to me about his work, and how you can help! 1) Stephen, tell us a bit about yourself first. Army Infantryman turned Intel guy. Spent eight years in, four at Fort Bragg getting tossed out of perfectly good aircraft at disturbing intervals, while my last four was between Fort Huachuca transitioning over to Intel and Fort Lewis. I got out in 2006 and have until recently been working as a government contractor. Now I run the charity full time and wake up every day wondering how I got so lucky. 2) First of all, Stephen, give us your summary of Operation Supply Drop and how it works. OSD started as a way for me to send video games to soldiers deployed to combat zones. My driver from Iraq got out, then re-enlisted in 2008, was almost immediately shipped to Afghanistan. He knew I had contacts in the games industry, so he asked if I could reach out and see if they could get some games. My contacts came through like gangbusters, and we sent them thousands of dollars in Guitar Hero and DJ Hero bundles. Of course, you can’t send that kind of stuff to a bunch of grunts without getting a half dozen follow up emails asking how they could get some games of their own. The charity was born; the four year anniversary is coming up November 1st! 3) As a 501(c)(3) charity what kind of paperwork did you have to go through to found Operation Supply Drop? I had no idea how to start a 501c3, so instead of trying to fight the legal paperwork, I paid a lawyer to file the paperwork for me and cut a whole huge piece out of the pain. Smartest thing I could have done; I had my 501c3 paperwork in record time and was off doing good work as a charity instead of trying to figure out who I needed to contact, what papers I needed to file, etc. Cost $3000-$4000, so not exactly cheap, but I figured it was an investment in the future. Boy, how right I was. 4) How can people support Operation Supply Drop? Donations can be sent to us, whether cash or physical games and gear: bit.ly/donateOSD We’re always looking for volunteers and helpers, simply reach out to us at @OpSupplyDrop on Twitter, or email email@example.com and we can figure something out! 5) How has the response been to Operation Supply Drop? Amazing. We filled a niche in the games space we didn’t realize needed filling. There are dozens of gaming charities out there, but none of them address the needs of our military. Everyone is supportive, especially when things are getting nasty in the Middle East again. Suddenly, there’s a noticable uptick in donations with ISIS running around and soldiers on standby to be re-deployed to Iraq. 6) Do you partner with any other groups, charities, or organizations? Anyone who is willing to sit down and talk with us, we’re happy to work with them. Everyone generally has a good mission out there, everyone is trying to do good work, so if we can find a good middle of the road where we can work with them, we’re always willing to do cross-organization events. 7) Do you work with any conventions or video game events to spread the word? We actually just did UMG-Nashville last weekend, we have booths at PAX and South by Southwest, and regularly are invited to E3. Again, we fill a niche out there not being serviced by anyone else, so larger organizations are happy to let us come in and make some noise for the troops. 8) There are a lot of people out there that want to turn hobbies into helping – what advice can you give them. Woof. First, keep your day job. You need that paycheck to keep the lights on and your significant other happy with your “hobby”. There will be a tipping point, and you’ll know it, when your hobby starts picking up momentum where you can look at yourself, your financials, talk with friends and family and say, “Should I go for this?” It’s a rough economy right now, so if you’ve got a paying job, KEEP IT. The only reason OSD was my full time job to start was because I got laid off. Also, be ready for you to start working like you’ve never worked before in your life. When you’re your own boss, you can feel every minute that you’re screwing off, so until you’ve got a solid team working under you, you’re going to want to do every single thing yourself to your standard. You have to let go and let others help out, or you’ll never actually have the time to ENJOY the hobby you turned into your job. Thank you for your time, Stephen, and thank you for your service. OK everyone – get donating, you know what to do!