Dr. Finn's Games began in Seattle primarily as a custom playing card business (previously named Dr. Finn's Card Company). Interested in manufacturing a card game he had been working on, Steve Finn looked for a company to print a deck of custom playing cards for a prototype. At that time, circa 2000, there weren't many business that could make a deck or two of completely customized playing cards for a reasonable price, so Steve decided to try to make his own by doing some research into card stock at a local wholesale printing supplies retailer, discussing printing with local print shops, and talking with printers about die-cutting possibilities. After working out a business arrangement with a local print shop to print digital copies at a discounted price (because Steve would go into the print shop and use the printers himself) and after buying an old and massive Kluge letter press (to die-cut the cards), he was able to offer customized playing cards for reasonable rates. The cards were not as good as plastic coated professional cards, but they served the purpose. So, most of the time devoted to this part-time business turned out to be making custom cards for other people and little time on manufacturing games.
After a couple years, however, Steve decided to print up copies of the game he had been working on (the game that originally started this whole adventure). This game is now called Biblios, though it was previously called Scripts and Scribes. The game was originally made in a batch of about 50, with Steve making all of the components (except the dice), including a cardboard box which was hand cut. After giving almost all of them, including many to members of BGG, he received a large number of positive reviews. So, he decided to make some more. Eventually, he decided to start using VHS cases for the game. At this point, he is not sure how many of these VHS versions are out there (300-500?), but the game became popular and he kept making more copies. At the same time, he started making other games as well, also packaging them in the VHS cases: Slush Fund, Charioteer, and some other games (packaged in a variety of different containers). For all of these games, he only made 100-200.
At some point, Iello contacted Steve to license Biblios. At the same time, Steve decided to try to focus on designing games and having them professionally manufactured. His first game in this endeavor was Scripts and Scribes: The Dice Game, which was manufactured by his own money with the hopes that he could sell enough to recoup the money and perhaps turn a profit. Having only made 1,000 games (as of 2013, he still has a couple hundred remaining). Then, he discovered Kickstarter, which really opened the door--since he could now raise the money for a game before having it manufactured--a much less risky proposition. His first Kickstarter campaign for Gunrunners was just barely successful, surpassing the target level by a few hundred dollars. This led to another Kickstarter campagin for Capo Dei Capi, which reached a lower funding level after about 10 days.
Dr. Finn's Games intends to continue to publish 1-2 games a year and will likely continue to use Kickstarter as a means to fund and sell Steve's games. This remains a small, part-time game publishing business, given that Steve has a full-time job that does not allow for a whole lot of extra time.