Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ron Hamlin, Founder of Virtual Reload, located in Greenville, SC, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Virtual Reload is an esports coaching company based in Greenville, South Carolina. Virtual Reload is focused on leagues, and organizations such as schools, helping them get started as the amateur esports pipeline. Taking players playing at home, Virtual Reload brings them through, introducing them to the industry and then getting them exposed to destination organizations like college and professional teams.
Tell us about yourself
My entire life has been spent playing video games, and I've seen how things have evolved from playing with friends on the couch at home to playing online with strangers. When I was looking for a new business idea, I learned about esports and its potential for empowering young people, which is how I switched from telecom to esports. That's why I decided to launch Virtual Reload. Esports are its primary focus.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Chris was a senior in high school at the time, and he was in foster care. And I took him to Erskine College to see the top e-sports coach. After that conversation, he was offered a substantial scholarship to attend Erskine. It was around $20,000 each year. And the relevance for me was that, until that point, the idea of a student receiving an esports scholarship was just hypothetical.
It was a concept that was based on a theory. Then, when he was awarded the scholarship, it was life-changing and incredibly significant for him, as it brought this part of what I'm doing to life.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Initially, it's just about knowing who to trust in relationships and other situations. A few people came along who weren't looking out for us. Therefore, it entails being more selective about who we share with and open up to. It would only sometimes be a humorous oversight. Still, I wait until a few things are in order and everything is in place before disclosing our entire company's intentions. It's not that I've grown untrusting as a result of this; cautious is a better term for it.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
It is entirely up to you what you want to do. Nobody else can tell you what you are incapable of doing. That includes situations when someone might say that you need a degree to do this or that, and you don't have one. But even though I lack a degree, I have achieved all my accomplishments. I've worked hard, dedicated myself, and used what I've learned from my career and other experiences to develop myself.
Specifically, if you're looking to get into the gaming industry, I would advise these three tips:
The first step is to pick a game. Engage in gaming that you enjoy. If you don't enjoy it, you're not going to succeed. You want to find a game you enjoy playing, so don't simply try to squeeze it in by saying, "Oh, I want to go to this school, and they have Fortnight, but I want to play Smash Brothers."
The second thing is competing in tournaments and receiving coaching to see how you stack up against others. The only thing that will matter is that you're good at the game in a competitive context. The character will be developed through experiencing, playing, and learning. Like traditional sports, where you compete against another team and don't always win, those defeats can still be beneficial—or harmful—depending on how they are handled.
The next step would be to establish your brand. Do this by putting yourself in a public place, such as on social media, and showcasing your abilities. You want to have some level to fall back on because one of the definite things is having a fallback in case your recruited team fires you for any reason. Create a stream where you may already have a large following, among other things.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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