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Paul Sulyok: “My motto is get up, crack on”

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Name:

Paul Sulyok

Role and Company:

Founder and CEO of Green Man Gaming

Company turnover (and most recent ebitda/most relevant profitability metric):

Gross Revenue in 2013 is set to grow to over two times the revenue of 2012.

Employee numbers:

55

Growth forecast for the next three years:

>£100m net revenue.

In under 50 words, what makes your business distinctive in its marketplace:

Green Man Gaming is the world’s fastest growing social commerce platform for video gamers. We are the only data-driven, e-commerce platform in the gaming industry that combines commercial, social, and actual game play data across multiple platforms to offer gamers the perfect game at the right price and time.

What’s the big vision for your business?

Together with the power and gameplay data of Playfire – our innovative social network for gamers – Green Man Gaming will become the definitive data-driven social commerce platform for video gamers.

Current level of international business, and future aspirations:

Globally the computer games industry is worth $66bn, and is set to rise to $84bn by 2015.

When entering the market in 2010, Green Man Gaming was focused on selling digital games across the UK and Northern Europe for the first 18 months. What we hadn’t anticipated was that within the first six hours of launching, over 400 games were sold to Japan.

Green Man Gaming now sells a wide catalogue of over 4,000 games from more than 250 video game publishers, in five currencies across more than 190 countries worldwide, with 90 per cent of its revenue being generated outside the UK.

Biggest career setback and what you learned from it:

Early on in my career, I was made redundant, which at the time was a crushing experience. Following some pretty serious self-examination, it made me consider what I really wanted from life, and was my first step towards becoming an entrepreneur.

In a career, as with everything else, if you don’t fail sometimes it simply means that you are not trying hard enough, and often the lessons learnt on the way down are the most valuable ones. My motto is “Get up, crack on” which I have learnt to adapt to all that I do.

What makes you mad in business today?

I dislike it when people are not passionate about their work.

I am a firm believer that work is an extension of an individual. My profession takes up a significant part of my life, so it is important to me to always remain passionate about my job. I take pride in it, and I strive to be the best I possibly can be at it.

What will be the biggest change in your market in the next three years?

With the recent releases of two next-generation consoles, and multi-billion pound selling titles like Grand Theft Auto V getting more mainstream attention, the number of businesses entering the market is increasing, whilst gamers have more choice and are more socially connected than ever before.

We are already seeing the number of high street shops selling video games diminishing, with many having to either diversify into other business models or move entirely online. I believe that in the next three years, the biggest change to the market will be that the online sale of digital games will become the dominant and preferred way for consumers to buy games.

Can businesses in your sector/industry access the finance they need to grow? If not, what can be done to improve things?

With a flexible workforce, a fantastic pool of talent from all over Europe, and more Angel, Venture Capital and (increasingly) Private Equity options in London than in the rest of the whole of Europe, finance is accessible, but there are things that we could do better.

The natural exit of a high-growth tech company like Green Man Gaming is either a trade sale or an IPO. Traditionally, British tech companies opt for the former because the AIM stock exchange doesn’t have the firepower or presence of the NASDAQ, and the noise these companies need to make can get drowned out on the US Stock Exchange.

Improvements are coming with initiatives like Tech City’s Future Fifty, of which we are a part. Announcements like the High Growth Segment offering a lower free float (ten per cent) from the London Stock Exchange, or the FTSE’s Digital Index for companies that generate >50 per cent of their revenues in digital or online services are positive initiatives. Combined with support from the Government, this will all help the UK become the definitive market for British and European tech companies to IPO, which in turn inspires Angel investors to nurture seedling companies, and most importantly, encourages other people to think “Hey, I could do that as well…”

How would others describe your leadership style?

As a former Infantry Officer, I’m fortunate enough that leadership comes easily to me, and I think others would acknowledge that.

Your biggest personal extravagance?

I’m a big fan of the Leicester Tigers, so I would consider a couple of cheeky weekends away to watch games to be an extravagance.

You’ve got two minutes with the prime minister. Tell him how best to set the UK’s independent, entrepreneurial businesses free to prosper:

I was privileged enough to be invited to take part in the recent UKTI China Trade Delegation, and on the plane home the prime minister took a few minutes to speak to me about being an SME. My points to him were simple;

Firstly, protect the Enterprise Investment Scheme and Research and Development Tax breaks for small companies. They keep every single start up trading through hard times.

Secondly, encourage investment in Venture Capital funds in London. Give SME’s the capital to grow their businesses.

Finally, give SME’s an alternative to the NASDAQ to keep the knowledge and experience of an IPO in the UK. Make the LSE the destination for great European companies to float.

The PM smiled, shook my hand and said “Noted. Now sell a lot of games, Paul.”

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