38-year-old Laxmi Desai –Khanolkar, Co-Founder & CEO of APAR Games loves painting and photography. After completing Masters in Information Management from Prin L.N.Welingkar Institute of Management (WeSchool ) in 2005 , she started Apar Games in 2007. She is from a simple middle class Maharashtrian family, with no business in the family lineage.
“My husband, Radheya invested the money in my company. In fact it was his idea that his wife must start her own game development company. Thus, I started the business of online and mobile gaming,” smiles Laxmi.
Before stepping into the business arena , Laxmi worked in educational and entertainment games industry for almost 7 years. “Smartphones were just coming up in the market and this was the time when people were spending good number of hours on online gaming. I also wanted to do something that challenged my intellect and skills and Games development did just that. The rise of smartphones, the introduction of 4G network, more game production, and more funding coming into this industry had made this a lucrative area for people with design thinking ,creativity, execution driven approach and ability to overcome failures and daring to take on new challenges. The degree in Fine Arts combined with Masters In Information Management from WeSchool had equipped me with the know-how of gaming .With the experience of working with some great gaming companies, working across various platforms including 3d games, online games, mobile games and directing corporate films under my belt, it was a natural transition for me to start an entrepreneurial venture on my own. And support given by family boosted my confidence to choose this particular path,” says Laxmi.
Facing challenges like a pro
When Laxmi started the company, the gaming scene in India was quite at a nascent stage. “No market wanted to sell our games. Hence I started doing game development services for international clients. Even convincing them of the skill level of an Indian company was a great challenge. I was pregnant with my first child when I started the ground work to set up the business. I was a bit worried about the two turning points lined up at that one juncture for me. Here, Radheya promised me his support in playing the two roles simultaneously i.e. new mother and new entrepreneur. According to me, that was the best gesture as he identified and believed in the power of woman more than I did,” recalls Laxmi.
“My elder daughter is nine years old now and the younger one is three. Balancing work and family is as challenging as it is but taking care of two small kids while working in this fast changing arena of gaming industry is a task by itself. My elder daughter once asked me, “Mom, when I say that my mom works at Apar Games, my classmates ask me which is this company? When will all my friends start ‘knowing’ your company?” While my elder daughter is setting up higher goals for me, my younger one allows me to work on presentations, while she sleeps on my lap. And she explains that if her mom makes this game, she can get her lots of gifts and she gets one more, new game to play,” says the strong-headed entrepreneur.
Carving a niche
Apar Games, the game development arm of Apar Global Pvt. Ltd., began its journey in May 2007 in Mumbai, India. Apar games does game development for ios, android, pc and consoles. With a process driven approach, commitment to quality and innovation, today it has contributed to over 100 published titles across the globe. Apar games has not only established itself as a strong contender in the Indian online gaming industry, but has also become a reliable partner to many developers and publishers in markets spanning the globe, from China to Europe and America.
“My current project scribble arena , a multiplayer game launching soon worldwide is a PC game,” says Laxmi.
Harbinger of change
Laxmi feels that gaming is amalgamation of creativity and technical skills. “This field truly challenges your knowledge, skills and brains. Sometimes there is a need for long working hours or higher commitments. It is mostly observed that deserving women are not able to work in this environment due to poor family support. Hence they constantly face challenges from male workers at the workplace when it comes to allotting more crucial tasks to them. In my organization I try my level best to curb such actions and create opportunities for deserving women developer / designers,” she quips.
Source of inspiration
Ask Laxmi about her inspiration and she names Indra Nooyi without battling an eyelid. “Nooyi is the CEO of PepsiCo. I admire her for her entrepreneurial attitude, skills that she portrays and the wonderful work-life balance she constantly maintains,” she says.
Get your hands on the game
They create games for fun to play at any age . “We also offer gamification to help brands bring in loyality, increase revenue per user and engagement. Our solutions also help business in communicating the information in the right format. We do Mobile, PC, social games for fun, learning as well as to solve business issues,” says Laxmi.