4 friends find freelance success through video games
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Playing video games. Photo Credit: Minerva Studio / Shutterstock

In five years’ time, the Pygmy Tyrant founders see themselves creating video games for big names like Nintendo and Microsoft


It may be a dream job for some people, but when four friends just out of school decided to go into business for themselves by creating video games, some thought that they were dreaming. In reality, a tale of entrepreneurial determination like this lies at the heart and soul of freelancing everywhere: You find something you’re passionate about and make it work by any means necessary.

So was the case with Pygmy Tyrant, the Australian tech startup whose products may soon be coming to a video game system near you. Pygmy Tyrant is actually a game design and digital animation operation, and you can’t go wrong with a catchy name that no one quite knows what to make of.

School chums Dhani Wong, Willis Smith, Trent Naylor and David Coonan formed their startup last year, but they had already developed the idea and formed the commitment for their enterprise in 2013, when they were in the last year of their degree. Pygmy Tyrant is set up as a partnership rather than an actual company, partly for symbolism, partly for business sense (it’s cheaper to run a partnership than it is a company in Australia). Of course, when their business starts making some real money, they may well have to reconsider the structure of their operation.

What about that funny name?

It turns out that the pygmy tyrant is a tiny bird that, however, has a surprising reputation for being aggressive. In short, it was just the name for four fellows right out of school who had ambitious, freelancing dreams.

All of the guys behind the venture get along great. They didn’t just get along as a team, but they also possessed talent and a common vision for what they wanted to accomplish in game design. According to Naylor, every team member invests an equal amount of time and effort to drive their common vision forward. The team members shared two goals right from the get go: to work in the creative industry and also to leave their mark as a video game maker creating games for different platforms. Shopping their titles around from different publisher to publisher is part of the game, too.

When they first started out, the team decided to rent dedicated studio space to establish their business. They could’ve also worked from home like so many freelancers do, but that option didn’t appear too professional to them. Today, they work out of a creative hub in a part of Sydney, which has been a point of focus when it comes to bringing startups and imaginative entrepreneurs together.

Up until now, their biggest success has come from the mobile market, for which they’ve already developed entertaining and unorthodox games, mainly because of accessibility and the ease of shipping titles off to market. At the same time, they’ve finished a game called Punfound, which is already experiencing good success with local as well as overseas video game players.

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 12.34.09 PM

One of Pygmy Tyrant’s new games, Punfound. Photo Credit: Pygmy Tyrant

Their longer term plans are ambitious, however: In five years’ time, the Pygmy Tyrant founders see themselves creating video games for big names like Nintendo and Microsoft.

While running their new game company has motivated them to be both focused and determined, they still can’t quit their day jobs, which include bartending and educating students about game design. Though Pygmy Tyrant is already turning a profit, it won’t be sufficiently profitable for the four friends to quit their day jobs and run the company full-time. That next milestone is approximately another year away, according to Naylor.

At the pace it’s going, look for Pygmy Tyrant to be behind big console games — in the future.

This post was originally published on Fiverr‘s blog. 

Featured Image Credit: Minerva Studio / Shutterstock

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