Tell us about yourself?
I have been working for the past 25 years in the development of e-commerce platforms, dynamic web development, mobile applications and mostly, video games.
I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and a very extensive technical background with a laser focus business driven mindset that allowed me to level up my career from middle management to the executive level in a very short amount of time.
Fresh out of college, I’ve found my first gaming and services company (Korpos Studios) where we developed one of the first video games in Argentina that got commercially distributed worldwide.
After that great experience and a lot of knowledge acquired, I moved to Buenos Aires. There, I joined Sabarasa Entertainment, as COO, to help lead and grow a studio from 12 to 50 developers and artists that shipped, in 2 years, 10 games for PC, Nintendo and Playstation.
Following that experience, I joined Minor Studios as a project manager for the development of Atmosphir.
I’ve become the CEO and closed an initial funding round of 2M USD to build a team of 35 developers in the creation of Atmosphir, a video game creation tool that ended up as a runner up on TechCrunch 50 in 2008.
Atmosphir was a pre-minecraft user generated content platform that allowed anyone to create and share worlds online. 285k worlds were created and the game was played by 4 million people.
After Minor Studios, I joined Making Fun, Inc. as VP of Product with the task of overseeing the success and creation of the company’s games, with some notables such as Hidden Express and Eternium.
Making Fun games were featured many times by Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple with combined downloads of well over 90 million.
In the same innovation line, after studying a lot about Bitcoin since 2010, and the massive power of the Blockchain technology, it was a no brainer for me to match Voxelus with the blockchain and thus creating a new digital currency.
The Voxel was introduced in 2015 and it was received with critical acclaim by the gaming and crypto world. It initially got over 1365 bitcoins in a cryptocurrency fundraising, known as an ICO.
I’ve decided to move permanently to Spain in 2019 with the goals of making new business investments in different areas aside from technology innovation.
We are now building Mokens League, an esports and blockchain platform that features video games developed by us to play competitively using NFTs and tokens.
We’ve raised 2m for a 20M valuation in December 2021 and we are scheduled to go to market in the summer of 2023.
What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?
That the main thing blocking you is money. Of course you will need money, friends, family, a round of seed funding to get started.
But the reality is that an idea can be turned into a project and, sometimes, a prototype without raising money.
Although investing a lot of hard work, overtime hours, weekends and making sacrifices. Raising money comes later.
If you could go back in time to any moment from your journey, and give yourself one tip, what would it be?
Don’t rush to go to market! It’s all about timing.
My story is always getting early to the market and seeing how second comers got away with bigger market shares and even survived when we had to close shop or struggle to survive.
There is a time to go to market and that is usually not first. This, at least for me, is the single most important point of failure in any given startup that has a good product.
What makes you stand out as an entrepreneur?
I would have to say that it is resilience by embracing failure as a learning experience. Doing difficult things and patience.
Innovation is difficult, takes a lot of time and the failure to success ratio is very unbalanced. Toughness of the mind is key.
What are some of the best working habits you’ve gained over the past couple of years?
Results oriented work methodology. Not objective driven, nor time based. Results are all that matters.
We have 3 pillars that we’ve used for all our ventures and parts of the development process of a startup.
1. Decisions should be driven by the metrics in all cases possibly. We live in an era where data can be obtained quite easily. Turning that data into information that can help you make better decisions is now mandatory, not options.
2. Details Matter. Be mindful of details, in design, in communication, while coding, while evaluating a competitor, etc.
3. Everything needs to have a why. Try to avoid doing things randomly, from placing a button on a page, to the color of a background.
From how to communicate to your users to when. From deciding on a new feature vs fixing a current issue. Understand why you are doing stuff, and always keep in mind that the user experience comes first.
Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?
We are game developers but also hard core/esports gamers at hearth. We spent years working on other projects to have the financial freedom to pursue our dream, which is Mokens League.
A blend between all the things we love, sports, video games, cryptocurrencies and NFTs. These are the main drivers that inspired us to execute and develop this project.!
Where do you see your business in five years?
In five years I see our products in the market, generating revenue, a self-sustaining company with happy employees that are successful at working in the challenging and complex video game industry.
It’s all about the team and in 5 years we will have the best team that we can possibly build to make our community happy by delivering a game with a replay factor seen only by the top esports games in the world.
What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you in getting there?
In summary: Survive in tough market times while we develop until we can reach break even. The most important thing for a startup is to survive. Sounds crazy but it’s true.
Projects take time to develop but also time to not only go to market, but get a market share, build a community (in our case) and while we are doing that we need to keep our burn rate as low as possible so we can navigate the specially difficult times we are all facing. The markets are not in great shape.
After the pandemic and a short upward tick, we are now fallen in a “crypto winter”. With the traditional markets trying to recover from a worldwide phenomenon, we have one of the largest world powers at war in Europe.
Inflation is at two digits in first world countries and economies are hurting. Though times are all around us so we need to be aware of that and understand that having a runway is of the essence.
Talk to us about your biggest success story so far?
Defining success it’s a tricky thing. I think that every time we start and fund a new project we are extremely successful and lucky because we get to work on what we want.
Furthermore, the most important thing is that we get to create jobs for people to work on fun, innovative and passionate projects. Having at least one of those projects to pan out means the world to us.
If we think about projects that reached millions of people, that inspired users in such a way that redefined their whole careers, then I would say that Atmosphir is on top.
Users that were 10, 12 year old that played our game and today are successful game developers, artists and producers in top notch studios is something that feels us (at least me, Martin) with pride and joy.
At the financial or economic level, I would say that the Voxelus project, alongside its token, is among the highest profitable projects we’ve ever created.
For us and our investors alike, we managed to get 15x returns on investment.
Defining success it’s a complicated thing to do. Life is short and having the opportunity to work on something that you love can’t be matched, that’s being successful at the personal level.
How do clients and customers find you? Are you much of a salesperson for yourself?
Speaking as Martin right now, not as the company or project, I have to say that I am very “anti viral” in the sense that I don’t follow any of the trends nor do the things that one should do to get lots of followers.
I created 10 to 15 minute videos for instagram and I usually give talks that are ground shaking and sometimes unconventional.
Despite all of that, people seem to find me and I believe that I do a good job at pitching, selling and building relationships and teams.
What one tip would you give to fellow startup founders?
Never stop believing. Every single successful start up out there was one time a small, hurting, frustrating, fearful, unfunded, feature creeped company at one point.
Things will work out. And if they don’t, they don’t, at least you’ve tried! Move to the next one.
And finally, what do you hope the future brings both you personally, and your business?
I want to be an inspiration to Tomas and Leia, my son and daughter.
I want them to see that people like us who come from low income families of a third world country can pursue childhood dreams and succeed. That ‘s all.
For the business, it keeps generating jobs for young and old talents!