Dan Thomas shares his thoughts on Etch Play's first year as part of the Etch Group
As of the start of this new year, the Play team (formerly known as Moov2) have now been a part of the Etch Group for an entire year. This has been one of the biggest changes since the company was founded, and in my career so far, so I figured I'd share some thoughts about how it's been going. It has been a year of leveling up and enjoying the bonuses of being part of a larger company, but it has also brought us challenges, and new processes to adapt to. Here is our Etch story so far.
Picking up an 8 person company and dropping them into an 80 person company is a pretty radical change, and we had got very comfortable as a team at Moov2. We had our routines, processes and comfort zones that hadn't been tested for some time. Understandably, when we moved over, it caused some anxiety both for the team and myself. It was not a process any of us had any prior experience with, so there were a lot unknowns, and it's easy to get overwhelmed with the potential of worst-case scenarios when faced with uncertainty. Particularly, when that's concerned with something as significant as your career.
Thankfully, my team were extremely level-headed throughout the process and had the composure to raise their biggest concerns and allow us the opportunity to discuss the matters of most significance to them. We didn't always have all the answers, but did our best to address what we could and be mindful of anything else. Overall I'm very grateful for the loyalty of the team to trust that I was keeping their best interests in mind throughout, and that Etch were receptive to our queries and concerns.
Also playing into that initial anxiety were concerns about the abilities of our two separate teams. In the digital services industry, there is a huge amount of apparent openness. However, you never really know another team's capabilities until you work with them closely. There were two scenarios we were worried about:
- "What if we're actually rubbish at what we do and look like idiots?"
- "What if they're rubbish and we get hamstrung by bad practices and dated processes?"
We needn't have been concerned. What actually transpired is that we've learned where we excel, and have been bolstered in areas we weren't as strong in, adding entirely new capabilities to our offering. It's thankfully been a win-win, and both sides are collectively stronger as a result.
As with many technical teams, the personality types in our team tend to skew towards more quiet, focused and introverted. So there was some trepidation about joining a much larger, fuller office. This fortunately, has not proved to be an issue. In fact, the increased headcount has been a huge benefit that has lead to new friendships and more activities being engaged with outside of work. The primary reason I chose to become a part of Etch was their focus on people and I'm glad this has proved to be much more than just lip service.
A lot more goes on within Etch than we ever did in our old offices. This isn't so much a business-driven initiative (though very much encouraged) as it is a result of bringing a larger group of people together. There are more diverse interests, more hobbies and more scope for people to create activities. There are crafting events, cinema clubs, Dungeons and Dragons, football, go-karting and all sorts of things that get organised by various members of the wider team. As a smaller team, we did some great activities together, but it's nice to have so much variety and frequency to choose from among our new friends.
I ran Moov2 for over 15 years, and throughout that time I was always "in charge". I had partners with whom I could tackle challenges, but the buck ultimately always stopped with me. Being a part of something bigger, with a management team and a board, has spread and alleviated the load of that burden considerably. I do still feel responsibility for myself and my team, and it's perhaps not the mecca of worry-free living that you might imagine in such circumstances, but it's a very welcome change. Having a support structure to turn to when I'm faced with obstacles really enables me to take my team forwards.
In addition to having somewhere to turn to for support, Etch have also been fantastic at instigating actions and activities that help me to improve without me even having to think of it first. This was an unexpected benefit of the arrangement, where I can come into work and discover an initiative to improve some factor of the business has been instigated entirely outside of my own inertia.
Related to the support I've received, joining an existing company also means there is already someone thinking about a lot of the day-to-day operations. The Etch Group has commercial and accounts teams dealing with finances, HMRC, legislation, HR, tax and the million other things a small business owner usually has to be mindful of. This is a huge difference and leaves me in the luxurious position of being able to focus on my main priorities: my team, my clients and our projects.
Was it worth it?
Yes. Sorry, do I have to write more?
I'm really pleased with where we've ended up. Being a part of Etch has completely renewed my enthusiasm for what we do, and given me the opportunity to focus on the aspects of running a team I care most about. We've been bolstered with additional support, and resources that are hard to come by as an independent company. It's often considered trite to refer to your work colleagues as family, but as a group of people you spend a significant majority of your week with, I don't think it's inaccurate. I definitely feel like we are a part of the Etch family now, and am very happy to be here.
Coming up on the blog next week, we'll be sharing our vision for the year ahead, and starting to talk about the work we'll be doing to help games companies deliver best-in-class experiences for the entire player journey. I think it's going to be really special. We wouldn't be in a position to do this without being part of Etch.
Running a small business is extremely tough, and I have learned, through this process, the many benefits that collaboration can bring. I feel there is much more opportunity for businesses to work together for a collective good. Whether that's through formal acquisitions like us, or simply just teams helping each other out to alleviate pressure and deliver better work to clients.
If you would like to collaborate with us, why not get in touch?
Interested in what we do at Etch Play? We believe that the experience is everything, and we help games companies bring that idea to life with websites, apps and services that bring players and creators together.