Studiotypes: Our Start-Up Story
Studiotypes are the gaming industry’s premier talent partners. Sourcing high level candidates for gaming studios around the world, Studiotypes are changing the way the industry thinks about talent procurement. Formed in London back in 2016, Studiotypes are long-term clients of ours. Their dedicated team comprises recruitment specialists, tech experts and life-long gamers. As they like to say, ‘great teams make great games’.
We recently caught up with Studiotypes’ Founder and Head of Talent, Joe Palin, to try and find out more about his company’s origins and how they’ve made their start-up such a ‘game-changing’ success. Here’s what he had to say…
1. What inspired you to want to start your own business in the first place?
“After working in recruitment for other people for the best part of a decade - some good, others not so good - I was becoming disillusioned with what I wanted to do and what I was doing it for. I relocated to Berlin for six months as a break from my lifestyle in London. This helped me gain headspace and make the decision to either change direction, or set up on my own and give it a shot. I chose the latter, and never looked back.”
2. How did you raise the requisite funds to start a new business, and do you have any advice for other budding entrepreneurs in this regard?
“I moved to Berlin with my best friend from school in the summer of 2016. He was at a similar juncture with his career at that time. So, we both spent some time together and decided to take a punt on working together. He wanted to invest some of his money and I had business knowledge and a solid plan, so he backed me to set up.”
“It worked well for the first year, and I eventually bought him out of his half of the business in year 2, so it worked well for us both.”
“It’s always helpful to have a helping hand in the beginning, but just be sure to manage expectations and contributions carefully with any partnership to ensure they’re well balanced. And, always put your friends and family before business.”
“Going into business with people you’re close to can be tricky, so make sure you trust anyone you agree to work with or receive investment from. Spend the time (and money if you have to) on working out the necessary legal and share structures at the beginning. That way there are no misunderstandings or grey areas further down the line.”
3. What was your biggest fear when you embarked on your journey as an entrepreneur, and what major challenges did you face early on?
“I wouldn’t say I am fearful of very much. I’m quite pragmatic. So, I don’t tend to worry about things unless they happen. Like many entrepreneurs there’s always that niggling feeling in the back of your mind about whether it’s all worth it (it is) and whether you’re going to fail (I didn’t), so they were the natural apprehensions in the beginning, for me anyway.”
“Early challenges were definitely being careful about managing finances, cash flow, paying bills and taxes. I’d recommend ensuring you’re on a positive growth trajectory before you start biting off more than you can chew financially. Having someone who knows this area professionally, if you’re not a natural numbers person, is crucial.”
4. How did you grow Studiotypes’ client base initially? What marketing/sales strategies proved most successful?
“I was lucky to have built a strong client base at my previous company who were loyal and willing to work with me when I set up my own business, so that helped greatly in the beginning. We also focused on our service and built a strong reputation. We’ve been fortunate enough to have clients who have referred our business to their industry peers, so we’ve won many clients from word of mouth and reputation. We rarely do business development as a result of this, and we often have to turn business down until we can grow again to cater for the increased demand.”
“We’re still working on our marketing strategy and function. It’s a niche industry and we need the right people and partners who understand games, in order to get it right. We have, however, invested heavily in creating an incredible brand and website, which has looked after itself in terms of attracting new customers and putting us on the map.”
5. How important is company culture to you? And how have you established, developed and maintained that culture over time?
“Very. Company culture is possibly the most important aspect to get right if you want to retain staff and grow your business. We’re a small team, so each person that joins or leaves makes an impact on the team and changes the dynamic quite acutely. We made a few mistakes early on, and also hired certain people who were not right for our business, so you learn from that.”
“When you get the right people, investing in them, their wellbeing and their happiness is priority number one. We’ve done this over the last 18 months and our people are very happy.”
6. How did you manage stress and anxiety whilst growing a small business?
“I have a thick skin and I’m used to an intense working environment, but I aim to de-stress with more exercise, ensuring I have a productive and comfortable work environment (even at home) and I make sure to take lots of breaks. We have 6 weeks of annual leave and unlimited personal days if we just don’t feel up to it, so it allows us to rest and recharge if we need to.”
7. How big an impact has starting a business had on your personal life? And, has your outlook on life changed since starting your own company?
“For me, the answer to this one is a matter of perspective. Sure, running a business can be extremely time-consuming and can result in working long hours at times. So, in some ways my social life isn’t as lively as it once was. But, if you’re disciplined with it, it can also provide you with freedoms you’d never have working for someone else. I call the shots, I take time off when I need to, and I am comfortable financially, with the knowledge that my business is also running efficiently without me there. It takes time, perseverance and a lot of effort, but it is possible.”
8. What is your favourite aspect of owning your own business?
“Creative freedom. This aspect can manifest itself in many forms, depending on what I’m working on but as a naturally creative and independent person that has ideas all the time, working on my own business allows me to experiment. Whether it’s designing our website, creative assets or working on a new business model, taking risks and trying new things helps me learn a lot about the people I work with, as well as what’s possible within my skillset. It teaches me a lot about myself - all invaluable lessons.”
9. What’s your main motivation as an entrepreneur? And, how do you keep yourself and the Studiotypes team focused and productive to ensure you achieve those goals?
“I became a dad for the first time in 2019. So, my main motivation is providing a great future for my little boy, and also maintaining a nice life for my partner and family. This helps me focus on ensuring my business is not just running, but growing and improving all the time. Taking time off with my family helps me refocus my attention at work, which in turn makes me more productive and effective in my role.”
10. What, in your view, are the top three attributes that each successful business leader has to have?
“Empathy. This is crucial to growing any team.”
“Ability to listen. Always take on feedback and be open to readjusting and growing.”
“Ambition. New ideas, directions and simple goal setting will help you lead your business.”
11. How do you define success - both from a personal perspective and in terms of your business?
“I used to see success as attaining mostly financial or material items, which was a mistake. The moment I forgot about those and focused on the quality of our business, product or the work we do for people, the business improved financially and the team grew as a by-product anyway.”
“This also works in your personal life, too. When you focus on being present, enjoying personal and free time, work on your physical and mental health, the rest looks after itself. So success, for me, is an organic and evolving process that is about striking a balance with all of those. If I’m happy, safe, and healthy, and my family is well-looked after, I believe I’m successful.”
12. Finally, what’s the one piece of advice you would give to someone who wants to start their own business?
“The worst thing that can happen is you fail and learn something about yourself. Which is a good thing in itself.”