Pocket Gamer Connects Seattle 2019 will take place on May 13th to 14th. To give you a taste of what to expect, we'll regularly be publishing interviews with the speakers at the show.
For more details on PGC Seattle and to book a ticket, head to the website here.
Today we're speaking to LBC Studios CEO Solon Bucholtz, who will be taking part in a panel on 'Culture and Diversity'.
PocketGamer.biz: Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
Solon Bucholtz: I was born in British Columbia and spent much of my childhood in Quebec. I knew early on that being an entrepreneur was my calling. Taking calculated risks, learning through experiences and sharing my values have always been a driving force.
I have redefined my life from poverty and homelessness to financial and personal success through entrepreneurship. By virtue of both my business and personal growth I have built two successful companies and now we support 30 families through employment.
My vision and values for life and work are to make a positive contribution to my community. LBC is not only a successful business, but I also see it as an opportunity to learn, apply knowledge, partner with talented people and develop as a person.
My early successes with my first business in real estate taught me how to work independently, be accountable, dependable and work with integrity. LBC Studios is a culmination of my journey thus far while continuing to provide new opportunities for experiential learning and growth.
It is a privilege to build a thriving company that honours a positive message around cannabis while strengthening our region’s tech sector. The results speak to the quality of our team.
Driven by passion and purpose, I look forward to continuing to build LBC studios as a world-class gaming studio. A project that is enhanced by the balance I have found in the support and belief of my loving family and friends, and opportunities to give back to my community.
Could you tell us about your company?
LBC Studios is the developer and publisher of Hempire, the world's most popular and highest rated (4.8) cannabis-themed mobile game with 10 million installs. Based in Vancouver and founded in 2015, our team is committed to being the category leader in cannabis games and producing fun products for our community.
What does your role entail?
I operate in the area of organisational management and leadership with a deep understanding of all areas and departments in our company from engineering, product development, design and art. I also foster and develop external working relationships with large brands including Facebook, Google, Snap, Unity and IronSource, to serve players in over 132 countries.
As the co-founder and CEO of LBC Studios, I represent our ventures, including our flagship game Hempire, played in 132 countries.
My responsibilities are to inspire and drive our vision, engage talent, secure resources, set measures and manage risk. Through my relationships with internal/external stakeholders, I nurture team dynamics, steer development and manage expectations.
Why did you want to work in the games industry?
Although I grew up playing games, my real passion has always been building great businesses. We had the right idea at the right time, and this drove us to pursue creating a business in the gaming space.
For me, growing a company is like playing a game. You do it for the challenge and the joy and excitement of overcoming obstacles along the way. It’s all about these experiences, especially because not all businesses are guaranteed to become a financial success.
What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into it?
Have fun, take calculated risks, learn from your mistakes, surround yourself with experts and enjoy the journey because you can't guarantee the outcome. Also, don't be afraid of your own potential or success and clearly define your values and how they reflect in your business plan.
What are your thoughts on the industry in the last 12 months?
The industry constantly presents new challenges and for us many of these focus around talent acquisition, marketing and policy changes in the industry. Due to our content and our growth strategy we have to be experts in these areas.
Recruitment in Vancouver BC is difficult - there's a lot of talent - but even more demand. UA and marketing are the lifeblood of our business behind a great product.
Recent policy changes with many ad partners have resulted in continuing content approval challenges. Policy changes, combined with more competition means a focus on data-driven spend, which is critical to our success.
What major trends do you predict in the next 12 months?
I expect for our category, there will be new games on the market and increased competition. I think we will also see an interesting player emergence between console/mobile games as platforms like Google's new Stadia will allow for substantial crossover in experiences.
I think the mobile market will continue to grow with more mature companies increase overall market share while making it more difficult for smaller studios to see large success.
How has the games industry changed since you first started?
Being that I don't come from a gaming background my experience was limited in this field. The biggest personal change has been the vast accumulation of knowledge and learnings in a new industry which I am very thankful for.
I also have seen many popular studios close due to bloating or poor product performance. I think staying humble and making data-driven decisions has been critical in recent years at driving success.
Competition and increased marketing costs are definitely changing the mobile gaming landscape. For our category of games, I find acceptance from both industry and players is increasing and our market is growing.
Which part of the Connects event are you most looking forward to and why?
I’ve been running a mobile games studio for four years and every time I attend an industry event I return to the studio more excited than ever with new knowledge that can directly benefit our growth. I am always looking forward to learning something unexpected.
With PG connects being in Seattle for the first time, I'm really looking forward to hearing from other studio heads and leadership on the challenges and successes they face in our geographic region. It will be great to foster positive and collaborative relationships with others in our area to facilitate growth for the industry as a whole.
Find out more about Pocket Gamer Connects Seattle 2019 on the website.