Interview

"Investors will not give fuel to a fire that isn't already burning," says Shotcall CEO Thomas Gentle

Shotcall CEO and co-founder Thomas Gentle discusses his route into games.

"Investors will not give fuel to a fire that isn't already burning," says Shotcall CEO Thomas Gentle

The games industry plays host to a colourful cast of diverse individuals, from artists and coders to narrative designers and studio heads.

The skills to pull off these roles, however, are complex and differing, with each position requiring mastery in its field.

To highlight some of the brilliant work that goes on behind the screen, and help others who may be keen to dive in, PocketGamer.biz is reaching out to the individuals who make up the games industry with our Jobs in Games series.

This week we spoke with Shotcall CEO and co-founder Thomas Gentle.

PocketGamer.biz: Can you tell us about your current role and what it entails?

Thomas Gentle: I am the CEO and co-founder of Shotcall. In my role, I have my hand in everything for the company. I don’t have a set day-to-day schedule; instead, I’m always online helping with strategy, networking, raising capital, management and use acquisition.

I realised that being an entrepreneur and running my own company is what I needed to do in order to be satisfied with myself and my career.
Thomas Gentle

How did you first get into games and how did you progress into this role?

I’ve been in games and creating online content my whole life. I grew up with a stutter and for me, games were a haven so that I could engage and interact with others.

Is it something you ever imagined yourself doing?

In hindsight, I realised that being an entrepreneur and running my own company is what I needed to do in order to be satisfied with myself and my career, but that wasn’t always the case.

In school, I studied pre-med and biomedical engineering with every intention of going to medical school and becoming a plastic surgeon. I then went into programming and finance but didn’t enjoy them. So from that, I realised that I needed to be in a position to ask my own questions and get my own answers, without relying on anyone else to give them to me.

What did you study (if anything) to get your role? What courses would you advise for aspiring professionals in the area?

There aren't many resources out there for helping to become an entrepreneur - in fact, I’d say there are slim to none. It’s something you really find out on your own.

I think there is a common misconception that you have to go to college and get a degree, when in actuality if you want to run your own business, there aren’t many things you’d learn from school that you couldn’t learn on your own.

What part of your role do you find most fulfilling?

When I learn. I love when I get to learn something new and get to share that experience with someone else. Bringing joy to others and empowering them to pursue their passions brings me a great deal of happiness and fulfilment.

What do you think are the biggest advantages and disadvantages of your role?

An advantage I have is freedom. A disadvantage is a lack of boundaries and having to self-manage. As a result, all of your successes and failures, both personal and company-wide, are ultimately on you alone.

Do you think there are any misconceptions, public or professional, surrounding your area of expertise?

I think a common misconception in gaming is the difference between games and esports. If gaming is a rectangle, esports is a square. The two are not the same thing, so getting people to realise that distinction in this area is key.

Don't pitch until you are ready to pitch! Come to investors with a graph that is moving up and to the right.
Thomas Gentle

I think a public misconception in being an entrepreneur or CEO is the lack of resources available. In addition, thinking that all entrepreneurs are part of an elite wealth or power class is an incorrect assumption. I make many sacrifices to prioritise Shotcall and our growth above all and to ensure I’m not the sole beneficiary of our work.

What advice do you have for someone looking for a job in this profession?

The advice I have for others looking for a job within the games industry is simply you need to know what you want to specialise in. In this space, it's critical that you network constantly, whether that be by attending conventions or otherwise.

Think of the games you love, the creators you follow and their managers, the teams you support and the publishers of your favourite games. Find an example of a person you aspire to be. Connect with them and ask if they can mentor you.

How has remote working impacted the role (if at all)?

Shotcall lives online and has always been remote, so the company was unaffected by the pandemic.

Is there anything about the job/industry you wish you would have known when first joining?

I wish I would have known to be okay with failure, as being part of a startup is a slow build. The only way you can learn is by failing and growing out of your mistakes.

As for being an entrepreneur in the games industry, I highly recommend learning how to raise capital. Don't pitch until you are ready to pitch! Come to investors with a graph that is moving up and to the right. Investors will not give you fuel to a fire that isn't already burning, so show them that your product is worth their time, energy and investment.

Finally, what other advice do you have for someone looking for a job in this profession?

The final piece of advice I have for those looking for a job in this profession is to immerse yourself completely in the industry. Use your passion for the space to your advantage. Be enthusiastic and show people why you’re the best person for the job and to lead a company from the ground up.


Deputy Editor

Matthew Forde is the deputy editor at PocketGamer.biz and also a member of the Pocket Gamer Podcast. You can find him on Twitter @MattForde64 talking about stats, data and everything pop culture related - particularly superheroes.

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