Company: Uken Games
What was the smartest single thing you did to get your business to the point it is at now?
Starting the business with a cofounder who shares the same values but brings his own perspective and has a complementary skillset was certainly the smartest move I’ve made.
Can you think of something you might have done differently, or a decision you would change in hindsight, if given the chance?
Early on, we were so heads-down working and building our company that we didn’t seek the wisdom of experienced mentors. While being focused is important, you can learn so much from people who’ve gone through what you’re going through. These types of people are invaluable and we should have leveraged them more.
What is the biggest problem facing your business right now?
Our biggest challenge is scaling out our team. We’ve been very careful to curate a world-class team around building fun games, but that becomes an increasingly difficult challenge as we grow. We’re constantly thinking about our company culture and how we maintain that culture with every single person we add to our team.
How optimistic are you about the Canadian economy in the next 12 months? What makes you both optimistic and pessimistic?
The Canadian economy in 2013 is largely dependent upon oil & gas and mining and the US economy. China dictates a lot of the demand side in the oil & gas and mining industries, so we’ll see what policies the new leadership in China puts forth to stimulate demand. Also, the execution of fiscal cliff in the U.S. will impact whether they fall into a recession, which will, in turn, significantly influence our economic outlook. What’s missing is a strong tech sector in Canada. We lack the Googles, Apples and Amazons of the world who are driving innovation forward. I think Canada must do a better job of fostering startups and entrepreneurs so they decide to build worldclass companies in Canada. This will relieve dependence on our resource-based industries.
Do you think the rewards of being an entrepreneur outweigh the investment you make in time and effort to run your own business? What are those rewards for you?
I don’t think being an entrepreneur is a binary thing where you’re either an entrepreneur or your not. I think being entrepreneurial is a quality that each person can possess more or less of. For instance, at Uken, we hire people who’ve demonstrated entrepreneurial tendencies and we foster that quality with the freedom we offer our teams. These sorts of people want to build new and interesting things that have widespread impact on the world. As for reward vs. investment, to me the reward is the investment. Being entrepreneurial is about challenging assumptions, constantly learning, doing things that others couldn’t muster up the courage to do. I don’t think anything else could be more challenging or interesting.