Startup Survival Podcast

Episode 3.5 - Finding Happiness

March 07, 2022 Peter Harrington Season 3 Episode 5
Startup Survival Podcast
Episode 3.5 - Finding Happiness
Show Notes Transcript

We all seek to be happy but what is happiness? And more importantly, how do we find happiness in our startup and entrepreneurial lives?

If you want to lift your mood or simply develop a better understanding of how we can all feel better when running our own businesses, tune into Elena Höge

Recognising money doesn’t buy you happiness (Yaldi Games is yet to afford Elena a salary), our special guest for this episode offers invaluable, authentic gems and deep as well as upbeat insight on the subject of happiness.

Learn more about the special guest

Elena is the founder of Yaldi Games, a startup games studio with the mission to create video games that have real life impact. Since starting the company, she has won several awards such as the Young Innovator Award and the Social Shifter Global Innovation Challenge. Inspired by her passion for nature and foraging, she is now working on their first title: Wholesome – Out and About: A game that inspires real life activities such as foraging, cooking and crafting and has a positive impact on players’ wellbeing and happiness.

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A bit of podcast author background...

UK-based Peter Harrington set up his first business following graduation in York in 1989. He has since started and grown several companies in various sectors including research, marketing, design, print, educational software and consultancy. Over the last 30+ years, Peter has employed over 1,000 people and experienced many highs and a few lows including burglaries, floods, fire and of course the most recent pandemic.

As well as being the CEO with the SimVenture team, Peter is also an Entrepreneur in Residence at London South Bank University.

Big thanks to LSE Generate, the SimVenture Team and Seajam Moths for supporting the Startup Survival Podcast.

Find Guest details and all Reference Sources

The full podcast series together with additional materials, guest details and hyperlinks to all episode reference sources is available on Peter Harrington's Blog 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to Entrepreneurship'

Startup Survival Podcast

Series 3 – Episode 5 - Transcript

Speaker 1 (00:11):

Hello, again, delighted. You can be here. Welcome to episode five of the Startup Survival Podcast with me, your host, Peter Harrington in this upbeat podcast, I'm going to be joined by Elena Hoge and together we will be exploring the joyful subject of happiness. Elena is a young, ambitious and multi award winning startup entrepreneur who will be sharing how and why it is possible, and so important to blend happiness into our working lives. But, before I invite Elena to leave the imaginary green room and the attention of my magnificent and many made up makeup artists, let us reflect for a moment. On the previous episode with Richard Hughes Jones, Richard kindly shared his story and startup struggle with anxiety, as well as talking about the debilitating nature of anxiety and accompanying panic attacks. Richard helps us to understand how it is possible for entrepreneurs to work with this emotion. And as part of the interview, Richard also let us into his two-and-a-half-year battle with third stage cancer. And how back in 2015, the illness and accompanying anxiety impacted him personally. And in business, if you haven't had a chance to tune into the courageous Richard Hughes Jones yet, I'm sure you will benefit from his compelling startup story and the learning he shares.

Speaker 1 (01:47):

Moving onwards in preparation for this podcast, all about happiness. My thoughts once again, reverted to my daughter, Megan, who back in the 2020 cauldron of COVID suggested I listened to Mo Gawdat, if you've not heard of Mo, he was chief business officer at Google X before events in his life, led him to focus on exploring how, why and what makes us happy. As part of his happiness research Mo created an equation, or you might call it a formula for happiness, which he says reflects the way our brains operate. It goes something like this. The happiness equation is a basic survival mechanism that our brains use to compare events, to expectations, thus ensuring our safety, quoting Mo Gawdat directly. The equation states your happiness is equal to or greater than the difference between the events of your life and your expectations of how life should behave. For example, I was planning to go winter wild camping in the mountains, the other weekend with three great friends. We've been mates since school days. Anyhow, Richard, Adrian, Nick, and myself all wanted the weather to be sunny and dry, but sadly it was wet and windy. So the tents sleeping bags and Rucksacks never saw action. As a result, we were disappointed because expectations didn't match the event, but instead we did manage an enjoyable local five hour hike, which ended at a pub serving excellent thirst quenching beer. Since the event exceeded expectations, we were all very happy.

Speaker 1 (03:34):

Now I'll be referring to Mo's work as well as his book Solve for Happy as we journey with joy or rather my special guest Elena, through what I hope will be a fascinating and highly enjoyable episode born in Germany. But now based in Edinburgh, Elena Hoge is the founder of Yaldi games, a startup studio with the mission to create video games that have real life impact since starting the company, she has won multiple awards, including the social shifter global innovation challenge inspired by her passion for nature and foraging. Elena is now working on Yaldi's first title called Wholesome - Out and About this is a game that inspires a real-life activities, such as foraging, cooking and crafting and seeks to have a positive impact on players' wellbeing and happiness. Now more on that later, but for now, Elena delighted, you can join me via the weave and wonder of the digital airwaves. It's great to have you here on the Startup Survival Podcast.

Speaker 2 (04:42):

Thank you so much, Peter. It's a pleasure to be here. Thank you for the opportunity.

Speaker 1 (04:47):

Well, thank you for the opportunity to interview you Elena. Now, Elena, you are a 29 years young entrepreneur and you have a unique story to share. I think people should hear how and why you got into the startup world as your experience resonates with the main theme of this podcast.

Speaker 2 (05:05):

Absolutely. I think for me, it all started when I was 11 and I, I played my first video game at that point before then it was just Barbie's. And after that everything changed. You know, I, I discovered the world of video games and that's somehow also how I discovered my purpose in life. It's quite funny. So after doing that and after deciding roughly when I was 15, that I was going to start my own game studio, I studied business computing as my bachelor, and then designed digital media as my master's and worked as an ops manager and a game design freelancer, essentially everything that would get me closer to that goal. And, and then I started the company in 2020

Speaker 1 (05:54):

A and can you share more about your company?

Speaker 2 (05:57):

So it's called Yaldi games and we're making meaningful games that can go beyond digital. So what I want to do is I want my games to have real life impact so that after playing the game, you take something away from it. Maybe some something you've learned or yeah, anything really so that you can have, you can enrich your life through playing the game.

Speaker 1 (06:20):

Elena I'll, I'll come back to Yadi in a moment, but you worked out your purpose, your destiny, so to speak at a very young age. Why do you think that was

Speaker 2 (06:31):

You know, it's, it's quite, I feel like it's quite unusual to actually have that and, and feel that passionate about one thing. I, I do consider it a privilege that I have this calling. I think I was just very determined because games were a hobby and I really loved it. And I felt like I could do good with it as well. So, you know, this purpose came together of doing good, but also doing something that you love. And so, yeah, that's that coming together essentially is like a coin flip

Speaker 1 (07:06):

Already. Elena, I feel like I'm talking to someone who seems fulfilled because you are doing something you always wanted to do. Do you sense that fulfillment yourself?

Speaker 2 (07:17):

Yeah, I feel, you know, I feel like I'm, I'm doing what I was meant to do and I'm doing what is also, you know, making me happy. You know, being part of the games industry now is, is such a joy attending these games event, meeting other people in this space and creating these games and seeing the reaction of our players that is just all, you know, extreme like sources of happiness for me. And yeah, so I, I feel very, very privileged about that being in that position,

Speaker 1 (07:52):

Elena, thank you for providing some colour, so we better appreciate your past. And what drives you as an entrepreneur and businesswoman. Now you've already alluded to what makes you happy, but can you elaborate and say a bit more about why you wanted to talk about happiness on this podcast?

Speaker 2 (08:11):

You know, I've always considered myself as a very happy, you know, purpose driven person, you know, who was very focused. And, and when I, when I read about this podcast it became at a time when I had just got launched our TikTok channel and we had lots of very positive community engagement and that created a lot of happiness for me. So, you know, as an entrepreneur, I always feel like we value what our customers think. It's essentially, it's, it's our driving force. It makes us happy because it's, it's essentially what makes us become an entrepreneur is that that need to, to solve a problem for someone, right. And to make a difference for someone. And so yeah, happiness is like a really important motivator through to like to get through difficult parts of a startup journey. And I thought it was, it was a really great topic to talk about.

Speaker 1 (09:09):

So, you find creating games makes you happy and that happiness also results when you engage meaningfully with your community of customers. I, I, is that what you're saying?

Speaker 2 (09:19):

Absolutely. Yeah. These are the, the two sides, I think definitely it's about, you know, if we are happy with ourselves, you know, seeing what we are doing and how we are progressing and then seeing the reaction of other people, you know, who react to our work. I think those, those are essentially the two sources of happiness

Speaker 1 (09:39):

Uhhuh. And so that gets me thinking Elena, once upon a happy couple time, I had to write a wedding speech actually for one of the guys who was part of the hike. I, I mentioned earlier and as part of my prep, I came across the line. The best things in life are the things that we share. Now you've been sharing your work on social media, and I believe the response, the engagement levels have been quite extraordinary. Can you say a bit more about that data and how it's helped you to validate your work?

Speaker 2 (10:11):

Oh, absolutely. So, when we launched on TikTok and the, after the first two months, we already had like over 10,000 followers and there were some posts that were performing extremely well. One got like almost 250,000 Fs with 2,800 comments, which I, you know, I couldn't even, I couldn't even answer all of them. It's, it's, it's the, the sheer amount's just too much, but it was really lovely to see that level of engagement because that's exactly what I want to do with the game. I want to engage my audience. I want to ask them questions and I want them to see that I'm listening and that I'm taking action, you know, on these things that they're, they're saying and telling me so that has been amazing. And so ever since, you know, we've got lots of engagement from our audiences, there's been real discussions, real, real dialogue between us. And I think that will be extremely valuable in the long term for our community building

Speaker 1 (11:08):

Amazing Elena. So, you attracted 10,000 followers in no time and 250,000 people viewed that post. What, what was the content that garnered so much attention?

Speaker 2 (11:20):

Yeah, so that video that did really well was a video where we are showing how we are sculpting hair. And you know, the thing is with games there is something called customization where you can make your own character. And I think it's really important that we have representation there. So, we have, you know, all these different hair styles for every kind of different person. And so, I was just I was putting out a post asking people what kind of hair they'd like to see in the game because I feel representation matters. And I just like to hear their thoughts.

Speaker 1 (11:53):

So, you were simply putting out images from the game that you are planning to launch.

Speaker 2 (11:58):

Exactly. Yes.

Speaker 1 (12:00):

Wow. Well, well, congrats, Elena now sad, but true a podcast. Isn't the best platform for sharing eye-catching visual graphics, but for curious, listeners tuning in, I strongly recommend a visit to @ Yaldi games on TikTok and YaldI is Y A L D I @ Yaldi games on TikTok where all will be revealed. Meanwhile, back to you, Elena, can you remind us of the title of this game and say a little bit more about what players do?

Speaker 2 (12:31):

Yeah. So, the title is Wholesome out and about it's. I call it a community driven life simulator. So that means that it's a very relaxing game where you can explore an open world. You can forage wild food, you can take care of your garden, you can cook, you can craft, and you can talk to local towns for and take care of animals. So, it's a, it's a very relaxing game. And it's, it's quite interesting because during the pandemic, these games have seen somewhat of a surge in popularity. It's because people are using them to, you know, escape, like more like a, like a stressful reality. And what Wholesome is trying to do is to integrate real life information into this very popular game genre. So, when you're playing Wholesome, you actually be able to learn to identify plants and mushrooms in real life. And you'll also pick up new recipes and crafting instructions that you can then actually make, you know, with your friends, with your family at home, you can make these real memories based on something that you've experienced inside the game.

Speaker 1 (13:38):

So, the game has real life value and information.

Speaker 2 (13:41):

Yes. Yeah, exactly. So, you know, you, you could walk around inside the game, you could discover sting nets to learn, to identify them. And, and then you can learn to make the singing net syrup or a stinging net soup. And then when you're out for a walk, you know, the next time in real life, and you see nets, you, you actually have that information. You, you have that knowledge, you know how to make that soup and you can do it essentially. You can take action from, from what you've seen inside the game.

Speaker 1 (14:11):

It sounds fascinating, Elena, can I ask what drove you to create the Wholesome game?

Speaker 2 (14:17):

Well, it was actually funny because my parents started foraging in 2019 and I was quite concerned about it because you know, they're, they're walking around and essentially at some point eating white mushrooms and that is, is a very scary thought if you are not aware of, you know, how, how identification works and, and that there is a certain safety to things when you, once you are, you know, once you dive deeper into the matter. So, I went with them, and I discovered how much fun foraging was it? You know, it was like a treasure hunt where every, every turn around a tree, you'd think, oh, maybe there's something there. And then you keep going. You keep going. And, you know, it's you spend so much time outdoors without it feeling like any kind of effort, or it was just pure fun.

Speaker 2 (15:12):

And, and I also discovered how little I knew about nature and it kind of concerned me, cuz I felt like if I don't know much about nature, then I probably won't be able to teach my kids about nature. And then, you know, where's all that knowledge going, like page six of Google, like no one looks there. So I really felt like, you know, this kind of knowledge needs to be preserved and that games can be like a really great medium to do that because it's so popular. So immersive, so interactive, you know, instead of reading a book, you can just play the game and it's super safe because you know, you can make mistakes inside the game that you can't make in real life, but you can learn what you're doing them digitally.

Speaker 1 (15:51):

And out of interest. Do you feel being with nature has an impact on happiness?

Speaker 2 (15:56):

Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. I think ever since starting to forage, I've spent much more time outside and I've, I've just noticed that I've been, you know, even happier. I, I feel like the physical, the physical exercise and, and just, you know, that, that fresh air and, you know, like seeing all these beautiful trees and then the nature around you that really has a massive effect on, on humans. And I think it's one of the best things that we can do is to spend at least two hours per week, you know, in nature, going for walks. And it's also the best that we could do for, you know, the younger generations to encourage them to do that because it, it builds like is, is good for your wellbeing and for your health. And these times, you know, where mental illness is rising, I think nature is really our best bet. Like we should really get back in touch with nature

Speaker 1 (16:52):

Earlier on in this podcast, I talked about the Egyptian entrepreneur Mo Gawdat at and shared his happiness equation. Let's hear it again. Our happiness is equal to or greater than the difference between the events of our life and our expectations of how life should behave. Mo explains this text formula in depth, in his book solved for happy, which by the way, has been read by over a billion people, but it's not just his ground-breaking formula that has helped to attract so much attention for me. And I'm sure many others Mo Gawdat is an extremely unusual individual who has made much of his talents and visited many of the extremes of life's universe. As a result, his perspective, understanding and analysis of happiness is worthy of our attention. Let me give you a sense of his achievements and experience an exceptional, a grade student and avid reader Mo also taught himself investment finance, following senior posts at Microsoft.

Speaker 1 (17:58):

He became Google X's chief business officer and focused on creating and developing highly innovative ideas, but whilst highly successful at work, he was unhappy for much of the time. Now Mo has co-founded over 20 businesses and has made pots of money, but he knows money. Doesn't buy happiness, an impulse purchase of two Rolls Royce had little or no impact on his downbeat mood. And in 2017, he suffered the nightmare. All parents dread the result of a series of mistakes whilst in hospital, his son, ally aged 21, sadly lost his life yet that terrible experience was the catalyst for Mo to explore what makes us truly happy and how we can find that state of mind later in this podcast, I'll come back to Gawdat and we'll be highlighting some of the words of wisdom he shares in his book, but for now let's return to Elena because I want to get her take on what she feels makes for a happy entrepreneur.

Speaker 2 (19:12):

Ooh, that's a, that's a good question. I think, you know, every entrepreneur has their purpose. That's why they are taking that risk. And you know, they're essentially choosing not to go with like something normal, like a normal job because they feel like they have that need, like they've discovered something they need to share with the world and they need to, to put that time in and to take that risk to make it happen. And I think for so essentially happiness for an entrepreneur is defined by following that purpose. And then also of course having these, you know, moments of success and moments of you know, seeing how, what you are doing is affecting other people, essentially your, your customers, your, you know, your target users, you know, seeing them happy with the project is essentially what is, is driving us. It's, it's it's our main motivation

Speaker 1 (20:05):

Listening to the way you speak, Elena. I really sense you have found your purpose, your calling, so to speak in terms of finding happiness, how important is it for entrepreneurs to make this quest and thus discover what matters to them?

Speaker 2 (20:20):

Oh, you know, I think it's a very hard thing. I think it's, you shouldn't put too much value upon it because I think the most important thing in life is to, you know, to experience it and take it in and take it like step by step and just keep moving essentially. I think, you know, you can, you can find your calling only if you have experienced a wide range of things really, because, you know, how would, you know, if something's, you're calling, if you haven't experienced it, so you could really make, you know, discovery off a purpose, a little bit of like, definitely like a journey because you don't need to, to get there right away. And there's so much, so much amazing stuff out there that you can experience. There's no need to put yourself under any kind of pressure to, to find that calling too early, as I said, I felt I was very privileged to have had this focus for so long because I can see how other people don't have it, but it doesn't mean that they're not going to find it or that they're not living their best life.

Speaker 1 (21:25):

Got you, Elena. Thank you. Now, can I go back to your startup? So, people have a better understanding of where you are with Yaldi games right now. Am I right in thinking that the company launched in 2020?

Speaker 2 (21:38):

Yes. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (21:39):

So you are two years old, but you are yet to publish the Wholesome game and thus make sales.

Speaker 2 (21:45):

Yeah, that's right. I mean, we are doing contracting work for some other studios, so we are trading in that sense. So that's good, but yeah, we're still working on Wholesome. It's getting along well. But it's still a long way to go. It's I think people be surprised of how long it takes to make a video game.

Speaker 1 (22:03):

Elena you've, you've managed the business's growth for two years. You are yet to make any sales. And I imagine you have considerable costs yet. Here you are talking to me about happiness. When many people might expect you to be sharing your anxieties because everything is so uncertain and risky.

Speaker 2 (22:21):

Yeah. I mean, essentially, you know, we're a team of five now that includes myself. So we roughly have running costs per month of like roughly 5,000 pounds. I'm not actually paying myself here and we, we are not all working full time either. So that explains that number a bit. But it, we didn't start out that way. I mean, we, most of 2020, it was just me. And then I've got my, my two artists on board. One of them is actually my sister, which is another source of happiness right there. You know, working with the, with someone you love and who's doing amazing work. So that's, that's amazing every day is, is great. You know, with her and yeah, so essentially, you know, it, it grows, you know so the team grows and, and then, you know, we, we got two programmers on board, roughly mid-2021. And since then we've making like the, the, the good progress, like real good progress and yeah, we've won we've won a few awards along the way, you know, to actually keep us going this it's not like this has come from nothing.

Speaker 1 (23:28):

Oh, and, and what awards have you won?

Speaker 2 (23:30):

Well, so far we've we started with some, you know, grant funding from the Edinburgh Innovation Startup Accelerator and then Convert Creative Challenge. And then we've won the Young Innovator Award the Social Shifters Innovation challenge. We've got a seed fund from the Edinburg tech fund. And we, I also just recently won the UK games fund and the Innovate UK follow on fund, which yeah. Is, is all helping us essentially like secure it is secures our cash flow and it's helping us develop the game and move forward.

Speaker 1 (24:06):

So, you are a multi award winning entrepreneur who doesn't pay herself for people out there. Those who want to start up and your contemporaries who are probably earning many tens of thousands of pounds a year. How do you explain your situation? And, and what would you say to them?

Speaker 2 (24:24):

I think there are many sources of happiness. I don't think that money can buy them all. As I said, the, the purpose is, is what drives me. So essentially, I was just, you know, trading the monetary value for a purpose driven one in that sense. But of course, I, you know, I'm planning on, on the, the business being successful and sustainable in the future. So, I'm, I'm thinking long term and I'm, I'm committed to that. You know, if, if you, if you take too much out of your business, I in the beginning, then, you know, there's, there's less to put into the product and that is really important right now. So yeah, it's, it's not really, I feel like it's not really about me, you know, there's this bigger thing. And that's what I'm working towards

Speaker 1 (25:09):

For me, Elena, you clearly know how you are wired, you are optimistic and as I've already mentioned, you seem very fulfilled. Is, is that a fair observation?

Speaker 2 (25:20):

Yeah, I think so. Definitely. you know, I, I've always been lucky that I had this self-belief that everything, you know, will turn out. Okay. And that, that I also had the opportunity to think, you know, that I can actually become an entrepreneur because I think a lot of times people are, you know, going through life and they're not realizing that they have this option. And that there is this world out there. And I think, you know, all of these things coming together in myself and then, you know, the re the fact that I've discovered games and, and found that purpose so early. Yeah. I would say I'm a very lucky person.

Speaker 1 (26:00):

Well, one thing that has little to do with luck is being so successful with the many awards. I'm sure there are lots of listeners who are thinking, wow, you are clearly doing something very right and winning awards must make you happy, but they're probably also wanting to know what's the secret to being a prize winner in the startup space. Can you offer any advice?

Speaker 2 (26:24):

Of course, yes. I think, well, the first thing that you need to have, and I think it's the basis of everything is, is a great product. And I honestly have to say that that's what Wholesome is for me, you know, it's easy to pitch it because of the impact that it could have. I, I'm not pitching a game that will essentially like waste people's time, or it will make them addictive or even like that, you know, that could, that will be even worse. Like but what I'm, what I'm doing is I'm creating a game that can enrich people's lives and, and, and takes this, you know, the, these crafts and cooking these hobbies, essentially that we are not, we know that are healthy and we love them. It's just taking them into a digital space making them attractive for a younger audience.

Speaker 2 (27:11):

And so it's, it's easier for, for me to pitch it. And I have to say that that's, you know, most of the time that's really, really helping of course, you know, I've, I've grown, used to pitching now. And I, I think my, I can get my passion across really well. You know, when I start talking about foraging, this, it doesn't ha it knows the winds and like what I've, you know, what I've created and, and what I love about it. And when I, when I talk to some of my, you know, in my community, and they tell me about something like wild clay and then all of these very interesting things like basket weaving and I'm, I get so passionate about it. I think that really, that is like a massive driver for any kind of success is to show that you're passionate about your product, what you're doing, because if, if you are not, then, I mean, why are the people that are listening to you going to be passionate about it or even care? So, yeah, it's, it's all about that, you know, having a good product that you can get really passionate about, and then, you know, having that confidence and self-belief to go out there and, and not being, you know, persevering essentially. So not being knocked down by a few opposite.

Speaker 1 (28:25):

Elena connected with what you've just said for listeners successful or otherwise who are running startups and remain unhappy, what would you advise them to do?

Speaker 2 (28:35):

Well, I'd, I'd advise them to maybe take a walk in nature and really reflect upon it. Because of course there are, you know, there are moments that can make us unhappy, but unhappiness should never be like longer than a few moments in time. You know, you, you should really try to like analyse your emotional state and, and, and how you feel. And when you're doing that, you're essentially just learning to communicate with your body and to listen. And I think in that moment, you'll be able to know if that, if something that you're doing is really making you happy, or if it's just the circumstances like a, you know, like a, like a moment in time where you failed and that is making you hand happy, because that is not going to stay around. You know, it's, it's, you, you need to just have a, have a kind of look at the, the long term. And seeing if that will make you happy.

Speaker 1 (29:36):

Listening to Elena takes me back to Mo at, and his book Solve for Happy Mo talks about the deep pain his family suffered when they lost ally. He also shares how they managed to work through the five stages of grief, which ends with acceptance, for reference. If you want to know more about the five stages of grief tune into episode one in series, one of this podcast, critically Mo says that as a result of developing the happiness equation and being able to think through almost logic out the terrible loss, he was able to come to terms with the situation. He also says that without the equation, he would've been lost and would've hidden and withdrawn from life. A key message to take from the book Solve for Happy, which obviously I recommend you acquire is Mo's belief that happiness is a state of mind in his akin to staying fit, making the decision to get happy is like making the decision to go to the gym. But unless you go engage and work out, nothing changes. You also have to work at other parts of your life, such as diet and sleep happiness Mo says is a choice, not a fortunate coincidence, and we are all responsible for making it happen.

Speaker 1 (31:06):

So back to Elena, Elena, I'm intrigued by your situation. And I want to explore how you are thinking right now and test your thoughts on entrepreneurial happiness. If I may, I'd like to give you a choice of two places you could be with Yaldi games. The first place is where you currently are. You are not paying yourself. The business is yet to launch and you are happy. The second place is 2027. The business is successful, and you are paying yourself, let's say a hundred thousand a year, but you have fallen out of love with the venture. Which option would you choose?

Speaker 2 (31:46):

Ooh, that's tricky, but Hmm. I mean, it's, it's, it's only tricky because you know, we don't stop being entrepreneurs. You know, it doesn't mean that if you have a business, it doesn't mean that that we can't start a new one. Right. you know, it's, I, I wouldn't want to go back, you know, and like do everything again. It's what I feel like is we we're making, we, we always have to move forward. And so if I were at that point in the future and I weren't, wasn't happy anymore, then I would definitely, you know, I would change that. I would, I would take a look at the company and, and see if, if there are ways for me maybe to, to even like, start something new, because it that's essentially what's happening. It's, you know, an entrepreneur is never just a person that, you know, is just like, happy with where they are, you know, forever it's, you know, because we have so many ideas, we have like such a drive and that doesn't stop. So I, you know, even if I wasn't happy in the future, I could change that because I have a lot of different ideas in my head that I could do. And I could, yeah, I could make that happen. I could change that.

Speaker 1 (33:01):

That's great, Elena. Thank you. So, so back now, to the reality for a moment, what does the next 12 months hold for Yaldi games?

Speaker 2 (33:10):

So, we currently have what we call a vertical slice of Wholesome. So, what we want to do is we are looking for a publisher or angel investment or any other kind of funding actually at this point, so that we can get the game out into what we call early access. And so that actually means that people will be able to access the game and play it, but it's not completely finished. And this is actually a great tool for community building, because it gets people into the game. It helps us test it and helps us get their opinions on it right away before things are completely final. And so that's something, that's something I want to do in the next year, essentially we want to launch into early access and then we want to keep engaging our community and keep improving the game. And then we will actually launch it essentially on PC and switch and console for the, let's say 1.0 release essentially after that. So, it's gonna be an exciting time. Honestly, it'll be involve, it'll be it'. It will be involving lots of very interesting people. And it will, yeah, the product will grow massively and we will have lots of contact with our customers. And that's always, you know, the part that I love the most. So, I'm really looking forward to it.

Speaker 1 (34:29):

I love your positivity, Elena, and I'm quite sure in line with Mo Gawdi’s happiness formula, the events of your entrepreneurial life will exceed your expectations. And whilst we are on this subject, and before we move on to the last part of this interview, I have a related question for you much as we would always like to be happy as entrepreneurs. It can't be the case all the time. You, you must have experienced setbacks on your journey. Can you share what happened and how you overcame those setbacks?

Speaker 2 (35:01):

Yeah, absolutely. You're so right. I mean, it's, it's not just all, you know sunshine I, I remember a time in 2021. So just last year when we had very little funding left, so, you know, the cash flow was only good for, you know, the next two to three months. And of course, you feel like that pressure of responsibility cuz you're employing people, right. You're responsible essentially for their happiness, which is like a, a completely different feeling of, you know, taking care of your own happiness. And so essentially at that point we were applying for a grant and I was in the final and the odds should have been very good actually, but I still did not win. And that was, of course that was quite unhappy about that. Though I have to say that I was unhappy only for a moment in time. I essentially, I try to keep control of, of, of my unhappy moments in a way. So just really making sure that you acknowledge your feelings you know, how you feel because it's, it's healthy, you know, you, you need to react to your emotions, but then you can, you can just move on, you know, take the next step. And, and keep being busy will essentially make, make you know, any kind of a bad thoughts go away as well. So, it, it really, you know, at that moment in time, that was, I was quite unhappy, but it was, as I said, just a moment in time and, and then I moved on and then actually the next day we got a contract coming in from a studio and, and that secured our cash show for the next month as well. So, you know, it, it seems that things have a way of working out sometimes. And I think if you have that positive believe then you can really make sure that any kind of unhappiness really just stays in that moment.

Speaker 1 (36:57):

Agree wholeheartedly Elena, with what you say about temporary unhappiness. Now, our meeting has allowed me to glimpse into your world, chatting with you for the first time has really made me happy. And I sincerely hope thanks to the podcast, recording that feeling. Won't remain a temporary part of my life. Now, as you know, my final question is always to ask guests whether they have a resource or book recommendation for listeners or a top tip or takeaway to share, have you anything for us?

Speaker 2 (37:30):

Yeah. you know, it's funny because lots of people like everyone probably they'll be recommending these nonfiction books, like very smart books written by very smart people. And I mean, what I'm mostly thinking of sometimes, you know, is is a book called Momo by Michael Ende. So, it's actually a children's book. It's, it's about listening and time and happiness in a way. So, I always, I always think of that one person like that one part in, on, in the book where there's a street sweeper called be, and, and he's talking about, you know, how often he thinks how long the road ahead of him is. Right. and then the more he thinks about it, the longer the road becomes, and then he starts to panic, and he starts to hurry and the same time the road doesn't get any shorter.

Speaker 2 (38:22):

And then he actually runs out of breath. And I felt like that is such a powerful, powerful way of, of, of showing how burnout can affect people as well. And so, he actually says that you should never think of the whole road at once. You should concentrate on the next step, on the next sweep and on the next breath. And, and then, you know, you'll get there in time and you'll have fun doing it. And I always thought that that was quite powerful because I feel like, you know, happiness is all about the small things, the daily things. And, and so we shouldn't, we shouldn't exhaust ourselves too much or pressure ourselves too much to get there because it, our health and mental state is really important. So yeah, I, I felt like that could be maybe something that people could look into or have fun reading, perhaps reading with their kids, cuz it's such a powerful lesson in general about, you know, time and work and general, I think, you know, I'd always suggest people to, to go out for a walk if they can.

Speaker 2 (39:34):

You know, it's actually proven that two hours per week can improve your wellbeing. So, I think that's the, if you, if you need like a, a thing that will really work, then you know, like really make you happy then perhaps, you know taking these two hours is the best step

Speaker 1 (39:51):

Elena. Thank you for both of those wonderful recommendations. Sadly, our time is up, but genuinely thank you so much for being a guest, a special guest here on the Startup Survival Podcast.

Speaker 2 (40:05):

No, thank you so much, Peter, it's been absolute pleasure talking about happiness and exploring it with you.

Speaker 1 (40:15):

Well, I really hope that by listening to Elena, you feel a sense of genuine uplift and also have fresh ideas as to how you can continue to develop your own happiness. Now, at this point, I feel compelled to let you in on an embarrassing secret due to my utter incompetence, I had to interview Elena twice on the first occasion, a sense of dread swept over me as we finished, because it was only then that I realized I had forgotten to hit the record button, but Elena was really kind and forgiving and graciously gave me the time to ask the questions all over again, Elena. Thank you. Of course. If you think you have valuable insight to share on a specific emotion and you are listening to this podcast in the early months of 2022, then you may be just the person we are looking for to feature on this show, to find out more about being a guest than visit guest.

Speaker 1 (41:25):

In the next episode, I'm going to be joined by John Peebles, a serial entrepreneur and CEO of the highly successful Startup Company. Administrate John is a fascinating listen and will be talking to me about the ups and downs of his own mental health, as well as the management of emotional wellbeing within entrepreneurial teams. That episode, episode six in this series is due to be published on Thursday, the 24th of March. So, all of this just leaves me to bring this fifth episode to a close, grateful nods once again, to Duncan my producer and to Cilla for all her research and editorial support. And of course thank you to our special guest, Elena Hoge for sharing her time and helping us to recognize how we can all become that little bit happier with our entrepreneurial lives. But before we go, before we close, don't forget your podcast feedback. It's not just welcomed, it's needed, share what you really like and let me know what needs to be improved and whatever your listening channel of preference. Please, please remember to rate, review and subscribe until next time. My name's Peter Harrington, and this has been your SimVenture sponsored Startup Survival Podcast go well, stay safe and thank you.