For Albert Lai, the CEO and co-founder of Big Viking Games, the success of his company all comes down to its fans.
“We believe that it’s all about making fans, that’s our mission statement, that’s also how we operate the company,” Lai says. “By making fans of our players, but also by making fans of our employees, we’re able to attract great people.”
Attracting the best people has given the company access to a motivated workforce where workers motivate each other, he says. It’s something he believes is true in any industry.
“When you set [people] up in an environment where they can be successful and do what they do best, then they’re going to create great products and services,” Lai says. “These products, for us, these games, they in turn create great customers and fans. With these great fans, they tend to disproportionately allow us to have great profits. It’s a virtuous cycle.”
Founded in 2011, Big Viking Games is Lai’s sixth startup and he says he’s tried to develop a strong culture at all of them.
“Great people are ultimately are what’s going to create great products and great products always win,” he says.
That focus on culture has won the company recognition for being one of Canada’s top employers.
But that’s not the only reason Big Viking is seeing strong growth.
“It has to do with the fact that we’re in an industry that’s growing extremely rapidly,” Lai says. “Mobile computing and mobile entertainment is the fastest-growing segment of the tech industry right now.”
And that’s even more true for mobile games, he says.
“We spend very little on marketing and advertising, in spite of that we still have millions of users in our games,” Lai says. “It’s all about just getting great word of mouth and having great respect for the community that plays your games.”
Big Viking, known for Facebook and app-based games, is now working to take mobile games a step further.
Big Viking’s venture division is creating what Lai calls “the concept of a post-app store world, using HTML5 technology. We’re a world leader in building games that can be instantly playable within a mobile browser, which means you don’t even have to go to an app store to download something, you can just click on a link and start playing a game right away on your mobile device.”
The company is growing so quickly, it had to expand beyond it’s home of London, Ontario, opening a Toronto office to access more talent.
“We live and die by how happy we’re able to make our players and that is a direct function of our ability to make our own employees happy,” Lai says.
Big Viking Games will be at Techvibes Techfest in Toronto on March 10th.