Stefan Damasena is a founding partner of Alegrium, a company which creates games and applications on the web and mobile platforms, based in Jakarta, Indonesia. The company’s major goal is to create happiness for others as well as themselves. As CEO, he is learning, along with his close friend and business partner, Yan Gunawan, to handle the business aspect of the company. He is also involved in user experience design and as a producer.
Starting Alegrium has been the biggest challenge of Stefan’s career, particularly the first two years. He tells us, “It was harder than we thought it would be. Thankfully, we have a really great and passionate small team, with a very positive mindset and a huge dream. They put a lot of love into whatever they are doing. That’s what kept us going.” Working for clients, as Stefan did in his past career as co-founder of a digital creative agency, trained him to work under a lot of pressure and stress. Now he is able to focus more on details, since he feels less pressure in Alegrium. The user experience in design and creative thinking he learned in his previous career have translated well to his current work as well.
Stefan tells us he sees many quality works in game development coming out of emerging Asian countries; not only Indonesia, but also Thailand and others. Asia is particularly important to the game industry because of the large population. China alone has a population exceeding 1.25 billion. Add to that the population of other Asian countries, and you have a tremendous potential group of players/users. These countries also have a huge advantage in production cost because the cost of living is very economical. If a good team of great people can be assembled, the result is very positive output.
However, being a developer in an emerging Asian country presents special challenges. For Stefan, the industry is focused on mobile gaming, specifically the iOS platform. The location, half a world away from the largest market, is particularly demanding. Other barriers include the language and especially the culture. But possibly the greatest difficulty Stefan sees is the problem of finding exceptional talent. People in an emerging country like Indonesia are skeptical about a career in the game business. Many of those with great talent prefer a career in more mature industries.
To meet this challenge, Stefan believes the best way is to make connections. World class conferences such as Casual Connect, as well as events in local gaming communities, offer excellent forums for those in the industry to meet and share experiences. He believes the industry is in a good spirit to grow together. He also emphasizes the importance of building good relationships with his business partners. He says, “Good relationships are an essential aspect of every business.” Part of this is learning the culture. He relies on Skype to catch up with their advisor and close friend who lived in the US, using this as an aid to learning the culture. He insists, “You’ve got to believe in yourself and your partners, find your true calling and do the extra miles. It’s a spiritual thing.”
Developing his business has offered enormous learning opportunities. Among these are how to fight with and accept others, how to be humble, and how to fail and get back up again. For him, it has been a life changing experience.
Catherine Quinton is a staff writer for www.gamesauce.org. Catherine loves her hobby farm, long walks in the country and reading great novels.