Chat with entrepreneur Daniel Hugelmann | 23 June 2020
‘I strongly feel that software development is a market that we, here in Seychelles, need to push further’
With COVID-19, entrepreneurs have to face a new reality. It is an unprecedented situation that the world has to face and Seychelles, being a small state, is being severely impacted economically as many businesses struggle inside a shrinking tourism market. This week we had a chat with a young Seychellois entrepreneur, Daniel Hugelmann, who, besides running a perfume and home decor business with his mother, also created his own business, which is to design and implement videogames. Let’s get to know him!
Seychelles NATION: Please tell us who is Daniel Hugelmann?
Daniel Hugelmann: Who am I? That is a very profound question! I would not describe myself as an extroverted party animal, but neither as someone who constantly seeks solitude. Being a 38-year-old Seychellois-German and having been lucky to be at home in both countries, I presently see myself as a cosmopolitan, for whom an open mind is a necessity. I am strongly in favour of making new experiences, of continuous learning, science and the efficiency of democratic technocracy (elected leadership by experts in the relevant and required fields). I feel that protecting the environment, which we happen to live in, is vital. At the same time I feel the importance, even the urgency, of developing our country of Seychelles, using principles and technologies that are well-suited to us and our environment.
Seychelles NATION: Share with us your childhood, youth and your education.
Daniel Hugelmann: Like so many of us, I was born at the Mont Fleuri hospital and spent most of my childhood here in Seychelles. My adoptive parents moved here from Germany in the late seventies and adopted me at an early age; for me they are as real parents. We live at North East Point and I attended the Anse Etoile primary school until age 9. I then spent one year in northern Germany, attending a local school there, before returning to Seychelles to attend the International School and the Seychelles Polytechnic. After my schooling I left for Germany, to study computer science and communications engineering. After completing my engineering degree I worked for several years as an IT consultant and I ended up spending nearly 19 years in Germany. I thoroughly enjoyed my childhood in Seychelles and am happy to have returned to our green hills, white beaches, pristine waters and old friendships.
Seychelles NATION: What businesses are you involved with?
Daniel Hugelmann: Primarily I own and manage North East Point Enterprises with my mother Dagmar; our company produces a range of perfumes and home decor products. But I have always envisioned a business in which I can realise my various creative ideas and designs. I thus founded Lea Creative Industries, named in memory of my daughter Lea, and during the lockdown I had the time to finally design and develop my first video game, Project Agent, which I made available for free for Android smartphones. I am following this up with an arcade-style game for PCs, World Wreckers, which is nearly complete. I also design traditional board games, and, together with North East Point Enterprises, will bring the first Seychellois-designed board game to the market in July.
Seychelles NATION: Is this for the local market?
Daniel Hugelmann: The board games are definitely for the local market. With video games things get more diverse. The interesting thing about video games, and software in general, is that, thanks to the internet, one can globally market and sell them without any of the traditional transport logistics and costs involved. My games can of course be downloaded in Seychelles, but also in nearly all of the world's other countries. I strongly feel that software development is a market that we, here in Seychelles, need to push further. It does not require a constant supply of physical resources or expensive processing machinery, but only requires knowledge, most of which is freely available online, and a computer for development. The ease of globally exporting our software products online would provide us with an efficient source of foreign exchange, which is independent of the sensitive tourism industry. We will need the support of our government institutions, such as the Department of Information Communications Technology, in this. Currently we are, for example, trying to cooperate with Google so that we in Seychelles can also offer paid apps and games in the Google Play Store. Further improving education in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) would also further our national software development efforts.
Seychelles NATION: Apart from being busy with your businesses, what are your hobbies?
Daniel Hugelmann: I enjoy being creative. You already know about my interests in designing board- and video games; I also enjoy industrial design, from a hobbyist inventor's perspective, and photography, especially with the subjects of landscapes, animals, macro- and astrophotography. I like spending time in our beautiful natural environment; and I thus enjoy hiking and scuba diving. In the evenings I read, watch movies and series and play video games, which, in my line of business, is educative ;-).
Seychelles NATION: With COVID-19, what have you learned in the business world and what advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Daniel Hugelmann: I have learned two valuable lessons: Lesson one: See every crisis as an opportunity; for everything has its positive and negative sides. The lockdown seriously impeded my first business, but I used the free time that it gave me to learn, improve my skills and develop my other business. Lesson two: Never lay your eggs in one basket! Structure your business to be resilient. For example, target local as well as foreign markets to survive with one if the other falters. For this a certain aspect of agility is important, so that one can quickly change course and adapt to new situations. Have a look at the SCRUM framework, which provides a good introduction to agile principles and has successfully been used in businesses, schools and government agencies.
To sum things up: Be creative, spot opportunities, take calculated risks and always follow your dreams and ideas, as crazy as they may be! Have fun with what you do!
Compiled by Vidya Gappy