38 min read

EGD 083: Sebastiaan Heijne and Elmer Bulthuis, Gameye

EGD 083: Sebastiaan Heijne and Elmer Bulthuis, Gameye

In this episode, I’m talking with Sebastiaan Heijne and Elmer Bulthuis, from game scaling solution company Gameye. Both Seb and Elmer are long-time entrepreneurs and in this episode, we chat about their experiences on learning so many things the hard way, building Gameye now together, and what the future could look like for their game server startup.


Joakim Achren 3:51
Welcome to the show. Sebastiaan and Elmer, how you doing? I find Thank you. So let’s kick it off guys. No small talk. How did you get into entrepreneurship in the early days, both of you and eventually found game I see

Sebastiaan Heijne 4:07
you asked me to go deep into my history here. As a student, maybe even I am about 40 years old. But a long time ago, I played a game called Counter Strike. It even came out as a bita. At that point, that’s a wallet that has some future this game called Counter Strike. So I registered some domain names in the Netherlands. And I set up a forum where you could talk about this new upcoming coming game called Counter Strike. I soon found out that there was a community around it. And they were forming groups nowadays called clans or eSports teams. And they wanted to play on their own game server. So I started renting out actual bare metal game servers. And then I thought, well, this game is at its peak two years later. So I sold that game server company to a local ISP. And I started listening to my mom. She basically said

Sebastiaan Heijne 5:00
There’s no future in gaming, like go do something with your life Stop playing around with games. So I bought a MacBook just talked about Mac books, but I own a MacBook because I know you cannot game on a MacBook. And then I started a web company in a small town in the news called Rnm. I built a back end for e commerce. totally different. I wanted to bring that more international at some point, got some resistance from my former co founders, but as an entrepreneur, you want to move on go into the world, bumped into another entrepreneur, and we came up with an edtech solution in London, and got a full exclusive contract with a company called Clear Channel called by Mom Mom, I’m not doing anything with gaming, but I’m gonna move to London when the two weeks. So set up a company there called sidekick eventually accepted that ventured off into FinTech. But while doing that, I was like, I’m listening to my mom, again, I want to go back into gaming where I really started off as a student, I’ve learned so much and so much technologies out there, let’s let’s see what’s happening in gaming, like, what’s what people doing on on the front of an infrastructure, and a little bit resource like, Oh, my God, this is a mess. What are these guys doing? There’s so much technology you can use to more advanced these skill, infrastructure. So I went to Rotterdam bumped into Elmer, because he was in the same co working space. And I knew in the hallways, they were they were talking about Eleanor’s giving talks and educating people about scaling and Docker. And it’s like, oh, I have this idea. What if we would containerize game sessions, and find a way to more advanced the skill game binaries? And he’s like, it doesn’t exist.

Elmer Bulthuis 6:48
Yeah, I was very surprised.

Sebastiaan Heijne 6:50
I think from there, and you did some research or research.

Elmer Bulthuis 6:53
Basically, the gaming industry, I wasn’t actually really familiar with it. But I figured out that there was a lot of stuff basically missing, especially on the back end technology that they usually games is pretty advanced. But for the back end services that they have, is actually not that advanced, right? Wasn’t at that time, I think. So at that time, I was running a software company. And actually, I was questioning if I was even supposed to do that, because my guys are making technically difficult software for a company’s primary processes. And most of the time, I was actually keeping my clients happy, like talking to them, explain to them why this thing needed so much time to be finished. And I love people, but I don’t, you know, I’m not good with customers. So I was considering myself is this is the thing that I would be doing. I just had an accident from my previous company where she was in facility management, that was something completely different, just doing the technical stuff there. And before that, I worked as a freelance developer. And before that, I worked as commoner from the Commodore 64, which many people hopefully know. I’ll be there for that I was in school. So we’re going backwards now. And when I was really young, before I went to school, I had basically three interests and one of them was computers. The next one was music and girls, I had no clue what to do with girl. So I left us for this.

Elmer Bulthuis 8:11
I didn’t know how to work computers, because you know, my dad had a to a six. And I was programming from a very young age. And also from music, I started as driving show. So when I was about 11, I paid my friends to carry my disco lights and hang them up at parties. And I would be DJing there. DJing was the thing. That was what I love to do. But unfortunately, I’m not, I don’t have that musical air. So then when I was 19, I decided to stop doing getting completely focused on computers and actually bought the intrapreneur thing was already something that later I found that I was doing it all my life basically, that’s how I got into entrepreneurship. Yeah. driving,

Elmer Bulthuis 8:49
driving show. That’s how it started.

Joakim Achren 8:52
You went off from there and started gay Mike, can you talk about Gameboy and introduce it a bit. And the rest of the team sort of excited about that opportunity.

Elmer Bulthuis 9:02
When I met said the idea was already there in but it was in a different forum. So we did a couple of pivots. But actually, it’s still many things of the ideas that we had in the first place are still valid. What excited me in the first place is the idea that you can solve a really big problem that basically any game studio has, and also able to me it was in a very impressive that, that nobody could solve this in a proper way. And of course, I know they can but the most games just don’t have the attention to build the proper back end. It was actually in my opinion, it was more like a an afterthought. And the whole industry seems to be alright with that. So if there’s a game launch and the game is basically unplayable for the first week or two weeks, that’s kind of normal. And that is something that I would love to change, too because I think it’s not normal that you cannot play a game in the first two weeks. I can understand. It’s But people accepted that this actually how? Well I would say bad it is. And that I saw that as a really big opportunity to make it better. And I think if you can solve that problem, then you have a successful company. So that’s why I started this.

Joakim Achren 10:14
Yeah. And then that sort of like ideas spread into the company. What kind of like pitch did you actually do for investors? When you raise funding? Can you go back in time set that that moment? And what was the pitch? Like? What are you building?

Sebastiaan Heijne 10:29
And what was more the research we’ve done? So with research, I don’t mean, hey, this technology doesn’t exist, we actually visited bigger publishers and studios in Austin, what technology to do we’re using. And we found out that most of the time they were using a cloud solution. And we’re bound to them, they were basically on that tropical islands, which free cocktails and then they ran out of the free cocktail money, and they had to pay a high fee for being basically integrated into that cloud. And none of them actually like that. Or they would go for a solution that was we an announcement call that how your voucher was basically sticking some stuff together, and then hope for the best. Because that was sort of the option that had to go for. And there was no actual overall technology that could use everything, all the cloud or an all the dedicated servers and even started adding edge. telco operators, so you were able to deploy as close to your end user, the gamer as possible. And when we had that sort of picture in place, that’s where I started pitching to investors, like, hey, we’ve built a simple technology. So far, we’ve tested this in eSports. But we think this is a big, big opportunity in gaming. And we tried to go into gaming very early on. But yeah, the game studio said, we’re spending a lot of money on this. You’re just 4.33 guys, one lady, in Rotterdam, come back when you’re a little bit bigger, but that sort of grew. And we show the picture of the possibilities what we’re doing, we’re able to skill already with the version, we had that 10 point and then show them the bigger picture of what if we would become something that would go against the bigger guys and will be an agnostic deployment solution on a global level? That is, that’s something very big. You know, that’s how he basically pitched it in the early days, and got them excited. And then of course, maybe the add on is like, Where is the future of gaming? going? Is it still the simple Hey, you you download a game? And then you play that game for a bit? And then you buy another one? Or are we moving into a world where this is all going to merge together? Are we gonna watch movies together on items of specific games? Or are we meeting each other in a world where it says metaverse persistence, we have a lot of passion. Or as you can already hear Elmer as well as quite a big geek. We are building something. But that’s only the beginning. And we want to go on beyond that.

Joakim Achren 13:07
Before we go deeper into the area where you guys operate. I wanted to touch base on with you on the founder aspect. And you’ve both been entrepreneurs and founders several occasions. What have you learned from the highs of entrepreneurship and lows of entrepreneurship?

Elmer Bulthuis 13:29
Yeah, there are far more lows. If you are you should enjoy the highest that yeah. So sometimes if everything goes well, you should really enjoy that. Yeah, I think that will be my number one tip list. Also, I think entrepreneuring that word is basically solving problems. And if everything goes well, it’s so easy, but that that’s only for a short period of time. There’s always something that goes wrong, and you never really know what it is. And then you have to act really quickly, I think. Yeah, so you have to be able to think on your feet. You don’t really get any credits. You really get some credits, but you don’t get the credits that it’s not related to to the amount of work you have to put in. You give so much work and sometimes it goes unnoticed. It’s only rarely that people give you a compliment Davey, you need a lot of compliments. That’s a good thing to do. I think yeah, basically it’s it’s really a lot of hard work and you only see the successes. I think a lot of people already know that. Of course,

Sebastiaan Heijne 14:28
from the outside it always looks amazing. But then the inside will work RS is off and yeah,

Elmer Bulthuis 14:32
enjoy the highs,

Sebastiaan Heijne 14:34
you sort of as an mp3, you see the end goal you’re working on that mission for why you would like to be as a company entrepreneur, and that basically keeps you going and gives you the drive because most of the times you’re in the lows. And the highs are nice for for celebrating and as Elmer says it’s good to celebrate. But you need to have this vision in your head like this is where we actually going I strongly believe in that. That wakes me up every morning, and I keep on going and keep on going. And of course, the whole team keeps on going, it’s very important.

Elmer Bulthuis 15:08
Yeah, but you have to keep on going. Because you’re also an example for the team, I think, is the founding team breaks down. And it will be from time to time, we have better and worse days, but if we really give up or something, and the entire team is gonna give up, if we’re not gonna do it, who’s gonna do it, you know, we are an example, our mentality should be rock solid. That gives a little bit of pressure, especially when you’re in a low. So I think you should also maybe enjoy the lows a little bit or learn to enjoy them, you know, coping is not enough, you really have to make make something of a gap, they have to know that you do these lows for reason. And the reason you do it is because you have a dream, because you have in the future, you see yourself in a different place, something like that. But then again, I also think it does does think he would apply them I think it has got to make it you also have to be kind of maybe even addictive or something like that. You’re just doing it because you are who you are. Basically, I cannot really not be an entrepreneur. So it’s not even really a choice for me. I don’t see no other way to live my life. Yeah, I

Joakim Achren 16:11
think the whole lifestyle sort of choice of being entrepreneurs. It’s really one of those voices that you could basically do something else for a while, but you’re always pulled back.

Elmer Bulthuis 16:24
And I see that around me with people who try to it always reminds me of Kill Bill. They just everybody’s seen that movie, of course, the lady motorman. It’s a great movie, by the way, when German tries to be a housewife. But at the end bill tells her that it’s her try to fit in but she is a killer, no matter what she does, she will always be a killer. It’s the same with entrepreneur, I think it’s the same with anything. He I think that you cannot be somebody else that you are an enterpreneur is very much something you are I think those of you do.

Joakim Achren 16:56
Thinking about them, the team, what has been your approach to building a co founder team? And how was the approached, evolved? In what do you did, really, in previous startups to what you did with the game I,

Sebastiaan Heijne 17:11
the obvious is, of course,

Elmer Bulthuis 17:13
you cannot do it alone.

Sebastiaan Heijne 17:14
I am not the smartest guy in the world, I can do a few things very well. And the key is to find someone who you have a good click with as a team member that you strongly believes in that will succeed or extend the capabilities of the team and capabilities of the of the mission and the idea. So I know without LMR I wouldn’t be anywhere like technology wise, or architecture or culture wise that it’s very important to find team members and extent, you’re basically creating one altogether, you can win the war with us alone, you’re not going to do that find someone who’s way smarter than you is always a good approach

Elmer Bulthuis 17:56
to say smarter, but I wouldn’t be anywhere without you either. That’s also why I joined. Yeah.

Sebastiaan Heijne 18:02
It’s also the other way around people. Yeah. Choose you. Yeah,

Elmer Bulthuis 18:06
I am not really good at talking to investors and managing relationships and talking to clients and stuff like that. So I need somebody who does that, basically. That is, of course we’re, and we’re both really bad at finance. Right? I hate money. It gives me a lot of stress. And I I just don’t want to deal with it. And that’s why also we have another founder who’s really good at that. In a way we all complement each other. That’s that’s the key, I think,

Joakim Achren 18:35
do you feel there’s any room for like this kind of lone wolf, or savant kind of founders in modern tech startups? What are your thoughts about that? Like, do it all alone? Having having sort of like control on one person?

Sebastiaan Heijne 18:53
Why? Why would you hurt yourself so much? I don’t know the Yeah, you could. So like, if you strongly believe that you’re the best in the world, and you don’t want anyone to interfere with you. There could be an approach, but I think you’ll always be stronger with a team. Because you just add so much knowledge and so much power to admission. I would love them want to do this alone. Never.

Elmer Bulthuis 19:19
No need to. But I think it could work, actually. Yeah, let’s face it. TVs TV is a great thing. But you also have to work on your relationship with your founders, for instance, this takes time. And it’s not another problem. But you know, you have to invest in your relationship with the founders, you have to keep it good or else everything falls apart. At the same time. You also need to talk to each other to be able to exchange your ideas. If you don’t have all of that and you were on your own, you can be very efficient. I think I would get very lonely. I think also, and I don’t really know how dealing with stress would be an even bigger challenge, I think but I think it would be possible I can think of some advantages that it has. If I would want to do that I would have to have people who manage relationships with clients and investors. It will be a little odd, I think. I think it could be done.

Joakim Achren 20:09
I’m doing a lot of angel investing. And there’s a lot of cap tables, which I bumped into Nevada. One father has like 90%. And then you have two co founders who have 5%. So that’s our D co founder. Yeah, it’s tricky. tricky.

Elmer Bulthuis 20:27
If you have two founders who are in conflict, there’s always a risk of so when you have two people, because we’re still humans, that is a risk, you don’t have to beat one person.

Joakim Achren 20:37
And then that one person gets hit by a bus.

Elmer Bulthuis 20:39
Yeah, but that’s always the thing. But um, I’m 41. Now, so I haven’t been hit by a bus so far. And I don’t know any people who have been hit by a bus, I think the chest is bigger that the company will feel that I get hit by a bus. Excellent. Well,

Joakim Achren 20:53
I’ll write that down.

Elmer Bulthuis 20:56
It’s what everybody says. But there’s so many risks on how a company can feel. I think there are more reasons why it can feel that way it can succeed, actually. And no, it’s the same thing. If I was hit by a bus right now, I think game I would have a really big problem. And same goes for for Sebastian, actually, I think everybody in our team at this moment has a key role. So the whole team should not be hit by a bus. At this moment, if if one of us is hit by bus, you have a really big problem, probably go back

Sebastiaan Heijne 21:24
a little bit of an entrepreneur, maybe old school way of thinking like, own more, it means that you will be richer, or you have more power, I always take the rule, it’s better to own less of something that’s worth more, then own more of something that’s worth like nothing. The more you share, the more you get people involved, the more value we bring to the total the company. So it’s always better to aim on less for something that’s worth more, it’s the same. It’s when you valuation goes up and up and up. Yes, you will go down in equity. But the company overall is worth more, so you own less of something that’s worth more. That’s always my philosophy. So yeah, I could go in as I go, or you guys are going to get 5% Yeah, like what will be the commitment then from the person that will join the team, while he has a key role in building this entire mission, or this company doesn’t make sense.

Elmer Bulthuis 22:23
It can also never really stop, I love my job. But Is that still the case in 20 years, or in 10, making yourself obsolete is I think my The biggest challenge for entrepreneurs, and especially for a founder, I think, if you have such a key role in a company, you can ever really stop doing it. And that alone gives a lot of stress, it would be better, if you are able to stop doing it and still do it, then you’re doing it out of free will basically. But if you have such a key role, and if you have like 90% that key roles even more, that you have to do it because without you with the whole company does not exist. And that is too much of responsibility for one person, I think I should like that and be my guest. But I personally I prefer to be completely replaceable, which is

Sebastiaan Heijne 23:11
promoted etheric perspective, that’s, of course, for you. Okay, that’s different, you would like to see that people are fully committed in their cap table at the beginning. And eventually, you want to make sure that all bets grow and grow.

Elmer Bulthuis 23:23
But those things go hand in hand, and you can be fully committed and still be replaceable. That’s the best place to be. And because the only reason why you work there then is because you want to not because you cannot go away. I love to work for gay my. But at the same time, I cannot leave gay my I would like to keep the first and lose the second, I want to be able to go away and still work there. That is the best place to be because then if you get hit by a bus, and we’re talking about hitting by person, but there are far more other reasons that you might go away because you’re gonna get hit by a bus. But also you can have like a burnout, which is, I think, a bigger danger than than buses. And the fact alone that you cannot take a sick day, for instance, that it’s not that bad a game I thank God. But I can’t imagine that you cannot get sick for a month. And that alone brings some stress.

Joakim Achren 24:16
Yeah, I think you want to be building a company towards that where entrepreneurs on people who need to be there. Or I don’t know if you guys know Derek Severs was this entrepreneur. He wrote this book called anything you want where he has 40 lessons for the entrepreneur. One of them is exactly this because he managed to actually like, leave his company for a year. And it like grew during the time it was like early.

Unknown Speaker 24:43
I’m gonna try to see I see.

Joakim Achren 24:46
Yeah, the company was called CD Baby. It was back in the day when he was basically like, artists who weren’t like signed to a record label. He was renting them record contracts and selling them online. And he managed to do that. I hear what you’re saying that’s really an interesting take.

Elmer Bulthuis 25:03
As for me, as an entrepreneur, it’s the most difficult thing because I really wanted to work, or we really want to make it happen. But at the same time, you should be making yourself obsolete, those things are the opposite of each other.

Sebastiaan Heijne 25:17
I sometimes joke if there would some, if they would, someone would come in and be a better CEO than me, I will step down. Always make that joke. Like, if there’s someone that is better than me, I will maybe step down.

Elmer Bulthuis 25:30
But first I want to finish.

Unknown Speaker 25:33
It’s not gonna happen.

Joakim Achren 25:34
Thinking about the whole approach about going into gaming tech, as an entrepreneur, you have a business idea for the loose, and what are some not so obvious problems that you can bump into, when you’re building gaming tech,

Elmer Bulthuis 25:50
it’s a very demanding industry is very unforgiving as well. And this is due to when your game is down, even though it is accepted, like we discussed earlier, there are a lot of people who would really hate you for it when your game goes down. We’re not on the front line on that part. But the games that we that we house, they are, of course, relaying that criticism to us if it would ever happen. So it’s very unforgiving. But then at the same time, it is also a place where you can win with better technology. And that is what I think is interesting about gaming. Technology is really a it can make you win or lose, it can make a difference in a good game. And a bad game for is if your largest perfect with no flaws, then you have a running start. And everything will happen for you. But if you have a large and everything is broken. Well, good luck making that better. That’s a very hard thing to do. So technology can win the battle, basically.

Joakim Achren 26:44
Yeah, imagine I’ve seen a few tech startups that have approach gaming, and it’s never really like a not a must you’re making a game. Like definitely seeing that area, then things become more sort of automated. And you’re basically building updates for the game. But you guys need to sort of like be reinventing a lot of things constantly as the technology evolves. How has the need for these multiplayer backends changed in recent years? Especially like, Why are developers looking for the solutions now versus using existing tech like building on Azure or AWS,

Elmer Bulthuis 27:27
I think it’s also a trend a little bit too, to be more agnostic. And by agnostic, I mean agenda tie to one of these noncommercial party or maybe even to one form of technology. But you see it in in every technology related entry, at least in every it related industry. People are looking now for a solution where they can pick what they need instead of being tied to their the choice they once made. Yeah, that is something that is changing a little bit. But not only in gaming. I think also, I think one thing that but that is more for the future, it’s not really taking off now. There is if you want to build something like a metaphor, so a world that has its own economy that has that is persistent, that has basically its second life done, right. And that is something you see more and more. And then you can also have like games in games, if you want to build that to a scale that is double the size of the matrix, basically, the you need a whole different hosting solution, you would need something that scales infinitely. And also cross regions and also something that could be hypothetically expandable to Mars. That is something we are looking into, but more as an experiment. But that is software that will definitely be needed in the future. Some companies are already building software like that. But I have the feeling that nobody really got it yet. Nobody has the answer to the problem yet. So that is something that’s going to be very interesting in the future.

Sebastiaan Heijne 28:51
And mostly it’s I think, the the ease of use, because if you’re building a gate or building a game, during 3d engines, you’re working with sounds, animations, you know, building a back end, you’re not going to set up an infrastructure because of your game. So it’s the way of integrating that technology in your current workflow and your current tools or tools you’ve chosen. And that’s a tricky one, having it as user friendly as possible for the people who are building the game, you don’t want to build an extra team that is going to basically build a game is a solution. Like I have an agnostic infrastructure on top of all yeah, that’s, that’s quite a big mission, then if you’re building a game, you’re not doing that. And you’re not going to build a whole persistent bar, you’re not going to build the infrastructure. So I think that’s a software that is missing

Elmer Bulthuis 29:37
now, I think from what we have now is that it’s all very based way technology. And you cannot mix and match technologies you want. You have to if you choose one framework, you have to commit everything to it. And that’s fine, but it won’t scale to the size I think is needed for things that are as big as the matrix. So millions like maybe 1020 like why not a billion People,

Joakim Achren 30:00
then I wanted to ask about this going back into the moment where you were fundraising. I sort of like, from my own experience have seen, tech startups that focus on gaming might not be the most attractive for investors, who know gaming, there’s a lot of challenge to gaming, which is like, developers want to build their own tools, things like that. But I feel like when the right company comes along, the investors will jump at it, or the opportunity to invest. But what do you think about my fundraising or tech startup in gaming? What is hard? Why can it be hard for investors? And why wasn’t it hard for you guys? is when you mean investing in the depth of it, or the developer tools in gaming space, rather learning Game Studios? Yes. Like for, let’s say, giving advice for somebody who’s thinking about building a gaming tech startup, like, how should they approach fundraising? Well, of course, the

Sebastiaan Heijne 30:58
industry is growing growing fast, and Game Studios. They have ideas and that needs to translate into an actual game. To come to that end point. You need developer tools, you need the tools to do so. And currently, a lot of the tools are still limiting. And this Elmer says you have to join an island, you’re basically born to what they have decided in their tools, Suite you can build on. So yeah, developer tools are there, there’s still a lot of things needed in in industry to move on as in total. So technology is one of the biggest plays, in my opinion. In the game industry. If we want to go to a world where we are a metaverse, you cannot do that anymore. With the current technology, just a simple game server binary, hosting it somewhere on a server that is definitely not persistent. And then trying to hack those binaries together to make it sound like persistence, like all the startups are doing, that is not building technologies, to tacking stuff together. So there is still a huge, huge, huge play in technology. That’s where our game is trying to make a big move in distributing compute power in a way that we are building a global persistent solution and making the game industry ready for the next generation of games. And gamers. There’s still a lot of stuff coming in the future, like infrastructures will change, are talking about the edge? Like, why do I need to blow deploy a game server in Azure, or in AWS or Google when I’m playing on a mobile phone? While I’m connected to my telco operator who has data centres, all that sort of stuff is still something we’re trying to solve. But then on the other side, you have animations on wheels, making big moves now, but there’s still so much stuff that needs to happen in the industry. for investors, it’s a great opportunity to look at developer tools. Just have a look at where is the game industry going? What are Yes, game studios are using this now. But potentially, where are they moving towards something good? Like, what are they going to use in the tools? And where is the where’s the big gap? We’re trying to fill in one of those gaps? In my opinion, there

Joakim Achren 33:10
are still a lot of gaps. So in a sense, like a founder in tech startups could think about, where’s the industry going in five years and is my solution and the approach, the one that is taking something that will meet like the need of the industry in five years? Yeah.

Sebastiaan Heijne 33:28
Or look at other industries, look where they are, and versus gaming, whether payment solutions or game items is still yes, we’re not talking about blockchain and stuff. But I still see huge opportunities in NF T’s owning parts of the game. Someone who wins the first end boss in the game will own the N boss collectible or Collector’s Edition, I own the entire world of warcraft shields in boxes. But that doesn’t exist anymore. If you buy a game, who’s going to tell me that I own number one of that game, that’s a collectible on so many things that like I would love to jump in as an entrepreneur, I need to focus of course, but there are a lot of great opportunities out there.

Elmer Bulthuis 34:11
I think it’s basically every aspect of life. And there are so many aspects of life. And one of the things you say is basically like a trophy that you have, in this case, it’s it like if you win a race, you get a medal for it. You want to show it to your parents and everybody but if you win again, you get nothing. So if you have like a virtual metal for death, that is real. So it is authentic. That’s of course very important. But you can do it through blockchain or nowadays. Yet, there is there is a need for that, I think because why would you give a metal to a person as somebody who loves to have go figure it That was a good idea because people wanted that. But people still wondered when there’s no metal anymore. Now we’re talking about metals, and in fact, you can Oh, but I think it’s far more things. I think also that it’s, you know, at some point, it’s not really a game anymore. It’s life. I think it’s really interesting what’s happening with fortnight, the board We’re almost there, you have Film Festival, stuff like that, you have artists that have performance there. And people go there with their skins. And I don’t know, do their fortnight dance on whatever artists playing there, it’s a new way of interacting socially with each other, I think. And gaming is only where it started, I don’t know where it will end. But I think if my children are bigger, a big part of their life is spent online. And it’s going to be something like this work, maybe, but probably also a game where they show off their new skins, and maybe not even shoot each other. So it’s not a game anymore, then it’s more like a real thing. Those two worlds will also merge. He can already see that happening a little bit, I remember a not so nice article that I’d heard it on the radio, I think it was, there was a guy who had some sort in a game, and it was done for him some pathing. And then the guy who started got murdered by the kid. So it’s not a good thing. But it is an example of how those virtual items and virtual worlds merge into a real life and become real. Actually, they’ve always been real only they have been bits and bytes, which to me is as real as molecules. Now, people are really feeling that feeling of realness is going to happen, I think, yeah.

Joakim Achren 36:25
Going back into kind of like company building topics here, I wanted to ask about culture. So anytime they like what has been the approach for building that possible culture? And how do you navigate this new reality of the remote work becoming sort of like the norm,

Elmer Bulthuis 36:44
the not virtual way of doing it was actually a bit weird for us. Because we were always wanting to be remote, we figured there’s no reason to go to an office to do something you can do at home, okay, except for social things, because we’re all humans that we need to socialise. So makes more sense if you have a social interaction to do that in real life. But if you’re developing something, you have exactly the same hardware at home, or maybe even better, even if you’re defended, you don’t need to communicate. So you could just have your assignment and do it. So in that sense, travelling to an office makes no sense. Also, hiring somebody that is in your neighbourhood is also a kind of a weird thing. Because if the best person for jobs on the other side of the world, why not hire him. So we always wanted to have a remote company. And when COVID hit, that was actually very easy for us. Because a few people who had to get used to that idea, when COVID did the test, he immediately said I remote company, and basically our office is Discord. That is one of the things we did and we have to be visible. If you’re working and all you are is a a piece of text in slack or software like that, then you’re it’s very easy to get disconnected. You don’t really have a sense of togetherness, and now on Discord. If you want to talk to somebody, you go to a channel that he’s in. And when you do that, you immediately see his face. It happens also very often that we’re working, and we just have a channel open and we don’t say anything. And then we have to sound over you again. You know, it’s not even that they’re looking at each other all the time. But you get a sense of togetherness. And that is something that is implicit when you’re in the same office. As long as you’re in the same office, you are a group, you cannot really denied it that you are at that moment, that group and if you keep on doing it for a couple of weeks or a month, you get closer to each other. But that also all goes pretty much automatic. And that is something with remote. Nothing is automatic. Like if somebody has a birthday, it’s very possible that you don’t even know that when you remote in office, it’s almost impossible to not know it electrons. If I talk to with my colleagues about a book that I read, and I want to give it to him, I bring it the next day and I gave it to him. It’s remote, it’s not possible. And then we’re only talking about these practical things. But I think the most important thing is to get the nonverbal communication, which can only partly be solved by webcam. But if you are talking on a webcam, you will see in the background, you might see well, in my background, I have a box. So you probably be thinking, Oh, what’s that box doing there? All that fall alone says so much about my personality. So I’m a person that doesn’t clean up his room, maybe, you know, you kind of related to a whole set of traits that I may or may not have it whether that’s good or bad. That’s another thing. But that’s how you form an image of a person like a social image. So all of that you don’t have to what we did is we accepted that. We made a lot of things explicit. So one of the things that we have is a partial surface. So if I want to give something to my colleague, I can order a guy who comes to pick up whatever you want to give. And the guy or girl delivers it to one of my colleagues. And that is one of the things that we do but we also realised that we cannot replace it. What we can do is we can reap the benefits of working remote and that I think is the only way to do it successfully. You should not try to mimic the real rules because nothing mimics the real world, like the real world, the real world is, is unique. But the remote world is also unique. There are a couple of advantages there. And we should embrace them. Like we have more different cultures than a local company simply because we have people all over the world. So we create a place where, where there’s a lot of respect, also, for cultures, and also for for everybody’s opinion, because people with difficulties have different opinions. And if you foster openness and stuff like that, then you’re basically embracing your remote culture, we do a lot more. So one of the things we also do is we are very direct to each other, we want to have everybody to be open. So if there’s a problem, you should say it, and we talk about it, and then we make it better. There’s no taboos in gay my, that no matter what the problem is, that is something that is also, you know, you need to explicitly take care of those things. Because if somebody comes in with a frown in an office, it’s very easy to ask, oh, what’s up, man, but it’s much harder to see those things if you’re in a remote company. And that’s also why we hired to do those things, we find a really badass enthusiast again, good woman was helping us out with basically being the glue between the people in the company and that that really helped before she was here. It was much, much easier to to be invisible. And now, she helps out the social events that we do, we don’t do why we do social events about every week. And it’s not a Bergquist every week, but sometimes it’s a pop quiz. So it’s also a very variety of things. We do a lot more things. But

Sebastiaan Heijne 41:43
this was a big change, since he see joins, really enjoying it.

Joakim Achren 41:47
Yeah, yeah,

Elmer Bulthuis 41:48
you have to make a real effort, you have to be very committed to, to building get remote culture. In a normal company, culture automatically exists, whether you will maybe you don’t like it, maybe you like it, but you have a group, remote culture, if you don’t pay attention to it’s the whole thing falls apart. And it’s like a full time job. Right. Before

Joakim Achren 42:06
we go to the final questions. I want to add one question from Sam, about your board meetings. I know you’re invested quite well, a really good good at what they do adding value, but how do you approach getting the most out of board meetings?

Sebastiaan Heijne 42:22
I think the added value investors is often not in the board meetings, it’s more asking them direct help. Beside the board meetings, as you can hear elementary are very close, we’re also the board’s so if there are early days, there was something we just gone to a call and we call it a board meeting and we merely addressed you know the issue and start solving the problem as fast as we can. The board meetings nowadays, of course, is a little bit bigger, you have more people involved or a lot of knowledgeable investors. So nowadays, I feel more like, Hey, we spent a lot of time in getting everything together for the board meeting, having the best overview of where the company is now in metrics. And then you join the board meeting and then the investors will be like, Yeah, but normally, you will have these in these numbers, and you will go this in this direction. Okay, and then you go back and you go back into the board meeting better again. So it’s been a big change from going from a startup towards a professional board meeting. And the weird thing is, there’s nowhere you can sort of figure out okay, this is how the board meeting should be with investors. Because you came from a different type of doing the board meetings and more direct way and solving problems immediately. And then more going on to an overview of where the company is now where we expect the company to be in a more number and KPI way. So we do our best to go into those board meetings as best as possible. And we know that every time we go into out of a board meeting with the investors, we come out as smarter and more mature as a company. So that’s how investors really help us they keep you sharp educate you on what a professional company should do. But besides the board meetings, investors have been always mean sounds weird, but it’s the same as founding members you find each other. If they don’t bring added value to the company, then I often see that that startups they go off to investors and then I hear what investors they’re going for is like, I don’t think that’s a great fit for you guys and because they will not bring you as a company forwards. Back to your question, how do we go into board meetings? Basically everything as an enterpreneur you go in as best as you can and come out smarter and the other side.

Unknown Speaker 44:38
But tips

Joakim Achren 44:40
and the final questions What are your favourite books? And why?

Sebastiaan Heijne 44:46
I think it’s something very nice add to our culture. Story. Elmer Oh my case. Somehow my team exactly knows and this person has also been with us for quite a while exactly knows which book was my favourite book, even though we have a remote culture, you know, you knew this stuff and we had a secret santa event. And suddenly I got a book as Elmo said, you can send stuff to each other. I got a book arrived at my place. And I unpacked it’s like, hey, that’s my favourite book holder, freak. Does anyone notice like, wow, that’s nice. And it got even better. Like it was a sticker on it and says, a signature signature. So open the book. And my favourite book is a book from I forgot 19 I think the story is from 1965 or something like that. And this book was written in 67. And I had a signature in there from the the actual writer. So my team Juergen is his name. For as a secret Santa gave me my favourite book with a signature in it. So it was really a nice mix of our culture and our teams as evolved into actually sending each other that is very close to that person. My favourite book is because it’s a it’s a book that actually happens, it’s called, we’ll need to wrote, it’s the last journey around the world when there were no wars. And there are a lot of learnings in there as how the globe would eventually become as it is now with pandemics and wars and culture clashes. And it’s written from a perspective of two writers from New York who just went onto a journey, no idea what they were doing, got a car a jeep and drove around the world with a camber. I can recommend that book. It has, yes, there was an entrepreneurial flavour in there, but you have to read it to understand the

Elmer Bulthuis 46:44
I have, it’s called How to avoid it disasters by let’s get rich. The title is also a little bit kind of makes you wonder what the book is about as well. Yeah. Though it is this guy is. You might call him controversial one of how I know this guy. And actually later I found out he actually brought a book. But he put a post on the internet. And they say that databases are a design flaw, which is also a very catchy title. He also explained he got a lot of shit from that a lot of people are like, Oh, you can say that. And because databases are the backbone of everything or something I get, yeah, play x plays really well, that database how databases evolved, and that they were a solution for a problem that no longer exists. And I just love that that guy is just challenging the norm. And that is something I love to see. And also he explains that why a lot of IT projects go horribly wrong in a way that people get hurt. Because failing IT project to me, that is really a disaster. And he explains how those things happen and how they might be avoided. Yeah, interesting book, The real truth. Really nice. That’s really good.

Joakim Achren 47:55
You guys. Already that has shaped you and how you approach your work today.

Elmer Bulthuis 48:01
You have many stories? Actually. No, there’s one story that was very, maybe that’s that’s why I started all of this. One of my driving factors. When I was very younger, my dad had a job. And he actually he was getting tools. And he got fired while he got some money with him. So it was like he got a good deal out of it. But I figured then, he was working there for a couple of, I don’t know, 20 years, maybe 30 years at the same company. And I was pretty young back then. And, you know, he was alright, because he got a lot of money from it. Alright, so there was no real problem. But I figure it’s, it’s horrible to not being able to decide what happens to you. He did nothing wrong, it was not his fault. He did not have any influence on it. And I thought about that a lot. And I decided that I want to do a difference. So I want to have control of everything. In my life. I also believe that everything that happens to me is my own fault. So I am the fault of my success and failure. Basically, it’s all me, even though sometimes it seems that I don’t have any control over it. If I don’t have any control over it. I should have had control over it. Get it. So in that sense. That’s my way of being free, actually. So that comes from a very long time. I think it was like 10 years old or something. I think that’s actually the starting point of being an entrepreneur.

Joakim Achren 49:27
Do you want to

Sebastiaan Heijne 49:28
share yours? such a difficult one to answer is no idea what kind of I so many stories in my entrepreneurial journey. I basically never had a job in my life. So there are so many things that happened and how I do my work nowadays. You know, the thing is that when you’re an enterpreneur when you go into these coals, and I also did some, some guest lectures at universities, about entrepreneurship. And when someone asked you you have to really think back and you start thinking okay, what actually happened in the past So, as an entrepreneur, you most of the time you just move forward, you’re basically educating yourself on what problem Am I solving now? What do I have to do for tomorrow? What’s happening next week? That’s then the answer, like you spent 1% of your time on looking back on how you got to where you are now. And 90% you’re you’re busy with the next thing. You bought your today budget tomorrow about the future and you keep on going, you keep on going. So yeah, how did that shave me? I think that’s still going you’re very busy worlds. what’s what’s happening in the future? And now, rather than how did I get here, that’s always very enjoyable. Especially when I did the lectures in universities, London. I did a lot. There’s a lot of knowledge in his head, which he basically somehow not used, because you’re busy with the next thing and teaching yourself learning how to get to the next level.

Joakim Achren 50:56
Oh, last question for you guys. How can people get in contact with you, if they ask about

Sebastiaan Heijne 51:04
you or anything, if it’s about entrepreneurship, so I have, I have a rule I sort of live by with the people you work with and the people around you have helped you get to the next level is your network. And I always say that’s the number one asset in life. So if you are an intrapreneur, and you want to get in contact with me, I would recommend do it find my network, asked someone else to introduce me, because that will help you. If you want to talk to an investor, don’t go direct or someone else to introduce you. So if it’s about but if you simply want to get in contact me, you can always email me or get on Twitter or whatever platform I met and get in contact with, of course, or business opportunities or a business development of partnership around gay might smashed in@gmail.com always open.

Elmer Bulthuis 51:54
Yeah, they were usually on Discord. This also depends on what you want to talk about. If you’re a recruiter, then please, please don’t. Because they called me all day. But in an interest, I like to help people. If you’re young, a want to do something that you think I can help you with. Let me know and we’ll see what I can do. I want to give back to the to the world of our people. Some people in the past helped me. And I believe that paying it forward. I’m here to make tomorrow better, I hope and I can do that hopefully by helping other people. So if you need help with anything, and if you’re young, yeah, maybe we can maybe I can help you. So if you want to reach out for that I’m open. We can have a goal. And just find me on LinkedIn or Discord. And if I don’t respond, it’s probably because they don’t really read a lot of messages. But if I can help you have a response. Yeah. I’d also developer of course.

Joakim Achren 52:52
Yeah, right. So guys, this was so much fun. Hopefully, get to see each other physically at some point soon. I’m looking forward to take a while some

Sebastiaan Heijne 52:59
offline guys again. Yes,

Elmer Bulthuis 53:03
I would love to. I would love to sit in a plane. Yeah. And step out of it also.

Sebastiaan Heijne 53:09
So nice. I mean, all these rewards, and sky Diem rewards. And now. Yeah,

Elmer Bulthuis 53:19
there goes your arrows.

Joakim Achren 53:21
Oh, no. All right. Take care, guys.

Joakim Achren 53:26
If you like our content, please do hit follow or subscribe to our podcast, wherever you are listening to us. And we have a weekly newsletter going out every Friday where I write the stuff that I’m curious about with startups in gaming. So check that out that elite game developers.com slash newsletter, and I will see you next week. Take care, everybody. Bye-bye.