Liz Felton acts as a great example of someone who has turned something they enjoy into a potential profit-making business. She is studying BSc Artificial Intelligence with Computer Science at the University of Birmingham and is currently working on the design of a first-person horror game for PC and games consoles. She has always had the desire to work with computer software design, but it wasn’t until she started University that she had the confidence and the commercial awareness to set her own company up.
“I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t into computers, having started gaming and programming at a young age. It became apparent to me in college that I could turn a hobby into a business, so that was the path I took. I have always had the ambition to own a games studio ever since I was a young child, and was waiting for the right time to launch into it – which turned out to be just as I was graduating university!
I first heard about EI [Entrepreneurship and Innovation]through the University of Birmingham website, when I started looking for support in starting my own business. I dropped EI an email and within a day they got back to me, saying that BSEEN was running and closing very shortly! I had the idea for the studio already quite well formed, so decided to enter and see where it took me!
My idea was only different in its ethics (after all a lot of people have started games companies) – I wanted a company which valued its employees, and created different games for the consumer.”
Three key skills
- Finance, finance, finance! The financial training offered by BSEEN has been invaluable; from annual returns to financial forecasts, everything I have learnt about running a successful business I can put down to BSEEN training.
- The importance of networking. As a coder it’s in my nature to want to hide away from the public, but I have learnt SO much about putting myself out there and marketing the business from a personal approach.
- Marketing. When your business is all about your product marketing is key, and what I have learnt has been worth more than its weight in gold. I now feel confident I’ll be able to sell my product and reach as many people as possible.
I have learnt so much and met so many new and exciting people there is no way that I couldn’t recommend it to others.
Every day I encounter something that could hold back the production of the game or stop production entirely; at times it can be hard work, but at the end of the day it is very rewarding. By keeping the end in sight and making sure we stay on track with regular progress meetings and goal-setting means we manage to overcome obstacles.
Without EI I don’t think I would have had the push or the confidence I needed to go forwards with the business at all – I would probably be stuck working for someone else! They really helped me with everything I needed to start my own business and feel confident about its success.”
Liz is currently enjoying her time working with Delta Games Studio and is working hard to achieve her goal of releasing her first computer game. She hopes to release the game in time for Christmas 2014 before working on their second game. Liz is set to continue working on Delta Games studio with the eventual plan of running a successful game studio in what is a highly competitive market. Liz and her team have also made use of the EI Incubator space which provides a professional business environment for University of Birmingham start-up companies and aspiring entrepreneurs.