How did players redeem over $500,000 from virtual real estate on Atlas Earth? CTO Beau Button tells the story.

e43 Beau Button

Episode 43 of the First Customers Podcast welcomes Beau Button, the CTO and cofounder of Atlas Reality. They’re known for Atlas Earth, the largest virtual real estate platform in the world. Beau explains the virtual real estate world, the distinctiveness of their platform, the fascinating journey of Atlas Reality, and shares insights about being a technical startup founder.

Join us as we dive into the world of virtual real estate with Beau Button, CTO and co-founder of Atlas Reality. Discover the intricacies of Atlas Earth, understand its unique business model, and learn how they’ve managed to carve a niche in this emerging space. Whether you’re curious about virtual real estate or looking to gain insights into innovative business models, this episode promises a wealth of knowledge.

Highlights:

  • Introduction to Beau Button and the groundbreaking concept of Atlas Earth.
  • Comparing the concept of Atlas Earth with the “million dollar homepage” phenomenon.
  • Remarkable player achievements: Over $500,000 USD redeemed from Atlas Earth.
  • Delving into the business model of virtual real estate and the metaverse.
  • The distinction between Atlas Reality and the typical blockchain-based metaverse platforms.
  • A glance at the burgeoning world of virtual real estate platforms.
  • Atlas Earth’s location-based gaming experience: A blend of Google Maps and real estate acquisition.
  • The structure of virtual land: Dividing the globe into 30 by 30 feet parcels.

Mentioned in this Episode

Connect with Beau Button:

Show Transcript

Paris Vega:
Welcome to the First Customers podcast. We’re here today with Bo Button, the CTO, co-founder of Atlas Reality, which is the maker of Atlas Earth. And they are the largest virtual real estate platform in the world. Their players have redeemed over $500,000 USD from Atlas Earth. Bo, welcome to the show. Thanks for making time for us today.

Beau Button:
Thank you for having me, sir.

Paris Vega:
So this is really interesting, a virtual real estate platform. So I think before we even get to the first customers, usually I ask people, hey, get right into how did you get those very first, but could you explain just a little bit the business model so we can even understand what we’re talking about here?

Beau Button:
Absolutely. So we often get kind of thrown into this newfangled metaverse world And it the metaverse like what is the metaverse? For us first and foremost when you normally talk about the metaverse people are talking about Cryptocurrencies web 3 and blockchain. We are not that we are a game we aren’t an investment product or an investment platform, but Basically what you do is you install Atlas Earth and we sell virtual real estate. The thing that’s unique about our platform versus some of the others, and there are others, might be a surprise. This might be the first time you’re hearing about virtual real estate. It might be a really big surprise to hear there’s probably about a dozen of these virtual real estate platforms in existence. We are the largest off-chain, so non-Web3, and you open the game and it’s location-based. So if you’ve played Pokemon Go, you see a map which is precisely where you are, just like if you were using Google Maps. The only difference is you aren’t trying to catch Pokemon, what you’re doing is buying land. The land is, we’ve divided the entire globe up into 30 by 30, 30 feet by 30 feet parcels. And those parcels can be acquired for $5 a piece. And everything I’m saying is only introducing more questions in the back of everybody’s heads. Like why

Paris Vega:
It’s kind of like

Beau Button:
on

Paris Vega:
the old

Beau Button:
earth?

Paris Vega:
school, a million dollar homepage that guy started years ago.

Beau Button:
It’s similar.

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
The difference here is it’s not just a land grab. So it’s not just, hey, I want to be able to spell my name across the state of Louisiana. Some people are indeed using the platform to basically create billboards. Those are the folks with a lot of disposable income. If you think about it, $5 for 30 by 30. Basically, a pixel is $5. It’s not cheap. But what really is going on behind the scenes is Once you buy that piece of land, that land, just like in some or a lot of games, there’s loot crates that have rarities. Each piece of land that you buy has a rarity that’s defined at the time of purchase. It’s a common, a rare, an epic, or a legendary. The significance of that is every piece of land that you own generates rent, and it generates that rent per second. So you can kind of think of it as when you’re buying that land, Atlas reality, the business becomes your, you know, your, your tenant. And what we’re doing is we’re paying you rent and that rent accrues per second. And once it’s accrued to $5, you can cash it out to your checking account or PayPal, or you can actually use gift cards. There’s all kinds of ways to get the money out of the ecosystem, but that, that’s really the core of the game. I can’t get too much into the weeds in regards to how the sausage is made because like I said earlier, we’re not an investment platform, but really the spirit of our business model is we’re just not greedy with profit. So if we’re selling you something for $5 and ultimately we have people that have spent hundreds, sometimes tens of thousands of dollars, but we also have opportunities for players to earn currency to buy things without having to spend cash. We make money on you watching ads, you buying the virtual real estate. We also have a very unique platform that we call the Atlas Merchant Platform where you can actually go spend money at retail locations like Burger King, Ontheon’s and Jamba Juice and so on and so forth and earn in-game currency. So the free to play model is very attractive to a lot of people because you’re not coming out of hard cash, you’re just converting time into our in-game currency, which is Atlas Books and then you buy. land with Atlas bucks and once that virtual rent accrues to $5, you just basically redeem and that’s it. You just make money. Yeah, I know there’s still probably a lot of questions, virtual real estate. It’s like, where does the money come from? Is it a Ponzi scheme? Again, I think the easiest way for me to express how our business works is we make money and behind the scenes, we manage our own treasury. We choose to take some of our profits, invest those profits into… different types of vehicles. This is completely independent of the game. Any company could do this, and I’m sure a lot of companies do. And then basically that backstops the virtual rent. So the rent that we owe you is a liability to us and we have, it’s in our best interest to grow as much money to compound that growth. And then we basically share some of it back with you.

Paris Vega:
Okay. All right. So now let’s get into how did you actually onboard those first customers and

Beau Button:
Oh,

Paris Vega:
kind of go through that

Beau Button:
it was

Paris Vega:
launch

Beau Button:
a journey,

Paris Vega:
strategy.

Beau Button:
yeah. So Atlas Earth is not our first game. And I think it would probably be best served to kind of give you just a brief history of how we as a company came into existence.

Paris Vega:
Sure.

Beau Button:
And we started off as a game development consultancy. Our intent was to build games for other companies. And my partner Sami, who’s our CEO, he had spent, I don’t know, four or five years at a fintech company called Acorns. really

Paris Vega:
Oh yeah.

Beau Button:
dive deep into their big it’s invest your spare change. It’s like a

Paris Vega:
Yeah, I remember

Beau Button:
roundup

Paris Vega:
that.

Beau Button:
type deal, but he was a very early employee there. And you know, he always had aspirations of basically owning a game development studio. He’s a gamer. So it was just close to heart and he had spent, like I said, several years, really dive in deep into user acquisition strategies, but marketing in essence, you know, getting

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
people to install Acorns and learning the ins and outs of paid advertisements, et cetera. So what we did initially was really low tech. He set up a website called iphonegamecreator.com. And I still laugh when I say that out loud because I don’t know why you would search for iPhone game creator. As an engineer, I would say iOS engineer, iOS developer, but it worked

Paris Vega:
Right.

Beau Button:
and he got it ranked

Paris Vega:
Descriptive.

Beau Button:
on the first. Yeah, it is, but he got it really highly ranked We used that to generate leads and we closed some really big clients. We had Cisco, the networking company. It was weird that they wanted a game, but they wanted a game for one of their conferences that they host annually in Las Vegas. So we built that game for them. We built a conservationist game for the Santa Barbara zoo, for the endangered condors. We had a few other customers, forgive me, across the world, but ultimately that’s how the business started. And then Pokemon Go came out and we were kind of… reflecting on our year and a half of being in business. And it wasn’t as fun as we thought it was gonna be. We thought building games for other people and just change of scenery and just dealing with different types of games was gonna be fun, but it’s a lie. It’s an absolute lie. So we were inspired by Pokemon Go and we decided to kind of just go to the drawing board and come up with a concept that… fit the location-based mold. And our first game, Atlas Empires, was an amalgamation of Clash of Clans and Pokemon Go. So

Paris Vega:
Ooh.

Beau Button:
strategy, tower defense, base building,

Paris Vega:
Yes.

Beau Button:
and then the kind of the out and about, looking around, collecting things, the scavenging, which we…

Paris Vega:
with a little allusion to old age of empires.

Beau Button:
It is actually Sami

Paris Vega:
The original.

Beau Button:
would be very happy that you said that because he’s an age of empires diehard He still plays that

Paris Vega:
Power

Beau Button:
game

Paris Vega:
mode.

Beau Button:
with some of his college roommates

Paris Vega:
Really?

Beau Button:
Um, and it’s impressive. But yes

Paris Vega:
How do you

Beau Button:
a

Paris Vega:
still

Beau Button:
lot

Paris Vega:
play it? Is it, I guess it’s on PC as a…

Beau Button:
Uh, you’d have to ask Sami. Oddly

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
enough, even though I’m the tech person, I do not play games. The game that I have set up, I have a really nice emulation

Paris Vega:
working.

Beau Button:
station set up is Excitebike for the original Nintendo. That’s about

Paris Vega:
Dude.

Beau Button:
my attention span.

Paris Vega:
Wow.

Beau Button:
Is it’s old school, very

Paris Vega:
The

Beau Button:
old

Paris Vega:
sound

Beau Button:
school.

Paris Vega:
effects just got triggered in my mind when you said

Beau Button:
Oh

Paris Vega:
excited

Beau Button:
man, when it

Paris Vega:
like.

Beau Button:
overheats, when

Paris Vega:
Rrrrrrrrr.

Beau Button:
I close my eyes.

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
Yes, no, look, that’s where I am mentally when it comes to

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
games, but. That’s

Paris Vega:
Okay.

Beau Button:
what inspired Atlas Empires. It was a location-based strategy game. It was commercially successful in so far as, as we made more money that we spent, but it wasn’t what we needed as a company to really grow. So we started thinking, well, what’s next for us? Do we reinvest in Atlas Empires and, you know, trying to introduce new functionality? We decided to take a little bit of a cue from the Web3 world, this play to earn. kind of concept where you play a game and you earn something. Now in the Web3 context, you’re earning a cryptocurrency. But I wasn’t a fan of how all of that was unfolding. There were a lot of scams and a lot of snake oil kind of things floating around. I didn’t want to be a part of that. So we said, let’s take some of the Web3 elements and bring it to a Web2, you know, a standard game. And we came up with the virtual real estate concept. And that’s ultimately what inspired us to build Atlas Earth. Now, in regards to customers. So the first customers were, for the first business was, we were just basically marketing on the internet, keyword searches, people were searching for, I need

Paris Vega:
Yeah,

Beau Button:
somebody to build me a

Paris Vega:
do

Beau Button:
game.

Paris Vega:
an SEO.

Beau Button:
Yep, exactly, old school. And the second thing that we needed to market was Atlas Empires. That was all paid. There was no organic initially.

Paris Vega:
Okay.

Beau Button:
You’re on Facebook, you’re on Instagram, you’re just pushing out advertisements. It’s rough, but

Paris Vega:
Right.

Beau Button:
you need a lot of money to do that. But we had

Paris Vega:
For

Beau Button:
built

Paris Vega:
sure.

Beau Button:
a funnel where we knew that every dollar that we spent, we’d see it back in X number of days. I don’t recall specifically what that was for Atlas Empires, but we had created this pipeline where we knew that if we had money to spend, we could see it back, you know, plus some, and let’s call it 120 days. And then we learned a lot. I mean, honestly, the game, like I said, it made money, but it wasn’t going to pay the bills and allow us to scale the team. Thankfully Atlas Earth was a much larger commercial success. And we’re doing the same things. We’re basically, we have an in-house creative team. They create ads. We do a lot of A, B, C, D tests. And like, you know, if it doesn’t work, just kill it. So these are low budget ads. We’re not spending tens of thousands of dollars. I would argue we’re probably not spending hundreds of dollars on these things. Just getting them out the door and seeing what works. I’m often surprised at how low budget ads perform. They work really well. Whereas, you know. You would think that for a game like this, you spend all this money and putting this really well-produced video together and then just to find out that two people clicked on it, it’s like, ouch, that’s a lesson that hurts. But that’s really it. We pay to get users.

Paris Vega:
Okay. And so for the agency, basically the game building agency, that was organic SEO, organic leads, and

Beau Button:
That’s

Paris Vega:
then for

Beau Button:
correct.

Paris Vega:
your first actual product, the Atlas of Atlas empires, that was

Beau Button:
It was all paid, yes.

Paris Vega:
social paid Google

Beau Button:
That’s

Paris Vega:
search

Beau Button:
correct.

Paris Vega:
advertising as well.

Beau Button:
Yep, we did all of that. A little

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
less on the search side of things. We were, you know, I think now we pay for the App Store search optimization where it’s

Paris Vega:
Okay.

Beau Button:
less about Google results and ASO in App Store, which is a new thing to me. I’m not as close to all of the different new strategies we use, but yeah, it was a lot of just paid advertisements, you know, cost of use like. What does it cost to get a user? What’s their lifetime value? These are the things that we’re looking at. But if we can spend X number of dollars to acquire a user, and we have good retention, both of our games had great retention. So we look at retention

Paris Vega:
Okay.

Beau Button:
from day one, day seven, day 30. And then we looked at ARPDAL, which is the average revenue per daily active user. And all of those numbers always lined up for us, thankfully, because we had a fun game. And that’s what kind of drove my partner, Sami, in the budgeting. Well, how much money are we gonna spend this month on? paid advertising and it was pretty straightforward.

Paris Vega:
Okay. To get, let’s kind of shuffle around what we focus on here a little bit. On the original kind of SEO focused agency services. Did you have to add a lot of content to the site? Was it just like a page and the domain name did a lot of the work for you, you feel like? Or what do you think the secret to that ranking

Beau Button:
Yeah,

Paris Vega:
back

Beau Button:
so

Paris Vega:
then was?

Beau Button:
I don’t want to admit it, but I think it was really just the domain because we weren’t trying to build out backlinks. No one was writing about us. There was no one who knew about us. Um, we just so happened, and this is Sami’s brilliance. He bought the domain, iphonegamecreator.com. And at the time, and actually till this day, we use a third party company called Instapage where. someone

Paris Vega:
Oh yeah.

Beau Button:
who’s not a developer or even a designer can throw together a landing page with a contact us form that goes into, you know, it could be an inbox, there’s like

Paris Vega:
Right.

Beau Button:
an API. It was pretty primitive, honestly. Now it’s, it’s over the last five years, Instapage has become a monster and they’ve all kinds

Paris Vega:
Right.

Beau Button:
of integrations, but really anytime someone filled out that form, you know, Sami and I would get an email and It would say something along the lines of, hey, I work for this company. I’m looking for a game that does XYZ. Can you get me a quote? Sami, bless his heart, would basically contact the customer just to make sure it wasn’t just some rift. And then I’d get on a call and we send a proposal. And that’s how we closed. I think in total we had about a dozen customers. It wasn’t a big, it was a three person operation. My partner, myself, and one engineer that we were able to afford to develop the games. And we contracted a few things like sound and VFX, but that was it. It was simple.

Paris Vega:
But that seems like each project was a pretty big project because I mean,

Beau Button:
It was

Paris Vega:
there’s

Beau Button:
enough for

Paris Vega:
a lot

Beau Button:
us.

Paris Vega:
involved.

Beau Button:
Yeah. Yeah, I mean, these were not, they were sub hundred thousand dollar contracts, but for a new studio. And Sami

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
and I were not doing this full time. So full disclosure,

Paris Vega:
Okay.

Beau Button:
Sami was basically still employed. I had a consultancy in ISB. We were building enterprise applications. So when Sami approached me about building a game development company, I definitely was. All in but it wasn’t my full-time gig and quite frankly for quite

Paris Vega:
Okay.

Beau Button:
some time Sami and I weren’t making money our engineer Morgan who’s actually now our we’ve recognized him as a third co-founder He was originally just employed number one, but he we wouldn’t be here without him But yeah, I mean it was it was enough to really make us like think about like alright Well, can Sami quit his job? Can I quit my job? But like I said when Pokemon go came out it changed everything we were like Well, I don’t want to look for clients and do paid work. What I want to do, and this is where Sami really excelled, was let’s raise a series seed. Let’s get enough money so we can build a team. We’ve proven that we can build games very affordably, but let’s build our own games. Let’s invest in our own IP and let’s kind of capitalize on this new location-based. At the time, I thought it was going to be a fad and arguably it’s not as popular now as it was when it originally came out, but clearly

Paris Vega:
Right.

Beau Button:
we’re successful in that space.

Paris Vega:
Yeah. Okay. And so moving on to the current game, Atlas Earth, did that differ at all in that customer acquisition strategy from the Atlas Empire? Was it the same thing ramping up with ads?

Beau Button:
It was very similar.

Paris Vega:
Okay.

Beau Button:
We definitely increased the variations. With Atlas Empires, Sami was the entire team. So he was the one putting the videos together and using Adobe Premiere and just finessing things. We didn’t outsource any of that. Sami comes from a music background prior to him getting into marketing. So he was very adept to using video editing software and he did all of it. But… I think the only thing that we did differently with Earth is we knew we needed to hire somebody to do that and we wanted to have just way more variations and kind of take a data-driven approach. You know, these campaigns, it’s very sophisticated. The software that, you know, like let’s say a Facebook audience network, when you’re advertising on Facebook, it’s really easy to determine if something’s working or not and you can kill it quickly. So the quicker you can produce these creatives, the better because you can just experiment. But yeah, that’s the only thing I would say that we’re doing different. We’re using… all of the same mediums. I think maybe the newest medium we started to leverage is TikTok. TikTok wasn’t as big as it is now. I honestly I’m not even sure if it was around when we launched Atlas Empires, but yeah, we haven’t really changed strategy a whole lot, but we are advertising on a few different networks, newer networks.

Paris Vega:
Okay. And is it just like a lot of video advertisements? Because I guess you want to show maybe some in game

Beau Button:
This

Paris Vega:
action

Beau Button:
is exactly

Paris Vega:
and can

Beau Button:
right,

Paris Vega:
we give

Beau Button:
yeah.

Paris Vega:
it?

Beau Button:
So

Paris Vega:
Okay.

Beau Button:
we have a spokesperson that we call Mr. Atlas Earth. He’s actually the guy who does the videos, but he became the character himself. He’s got these beautiful handlebar mustaches, or a beautiful handlebar mustache. He doesn’t have multiple mustaches, but

Paris Vega:
Ha ha ha.

Beau Button:
it was kind of a joke. He’s kind of like the egg man from Sonic, and we get a lot of reviewers saying, this guy just looks like he’s gonna steal from you kind of deal. So it’s not all. great but he’s the guy actually doing the editing the recording and he became kind of the persona Mr. Atlas Earth but it’s I’d say 99 if not a hundred percent video and a lot of them would be classified as cheesy like hey look I just bought my neighbor’s garage you know like those kind of things

Paris Vega:
Yeah,

Beau Button:
people are

Paris Vega:
yeah.

Beau Button:
like it piques their interest but yeah it’s worked well for us

Paris Vega:
Okay, cool. Do you know or have a sense of which platform maybe send you the most leads or the most

Beau Button:
Facebook

Paris Vega:
sales?

Beau Button:
right

Paris Vega:
Facebook

Beau Button:
now

Paris Vega:
does.

Beau Button:
Facebook is I Couldn’t tell you what the ratio is

Paris Vega:
Yeah,

Beau Button:
but

Paris Vega:
yeah.

Beau Button:
they’re obviously the most mature in regards to tools And I know for a while, you know Google so we there’s two sides So we have the ads that we’re running then obviously we have ad revenue the ads that we’re showing I would say Google is like the best platform for making money off of ads,

Paris Vega:
Right.

Beau Button:
but from what I gather and just conversing with Sami and the team, it’s Facebook, the Facebook Audience Network.

Paris Vega:
Okay. All right. And when you’re sending traffic from a video or an ad, is it like you send to the website and people sign up and pay something right there or you’re just getting like user registrations, basically

Beau Button:
They go straight

Paris Vega:
just user

Beau Button:
to

Paris Vega:
signups?

Beau Button:
the app store. That’s correct. Yeah. So

Paris Vega:
Okay, the app store.

Beau Button:
that’s

Paris Vega:
That’s

Beau Button:
correct.

Paris Vega:
right.

Beau Button:
Yeah.

Paris Vega:
Okay.

Beau Button:
We use a third party called Adjust. So install attribution tracking. So it allows us to track the creative down to where the advertisement was so we know where every new install comes from. And again, it’s data driven. So if you’re running campaigns on TikTok and Google and Facebook, different variations of different videos, we can through adjust, we can see very clearly, hey, this network, this ad is really converting really well, let’s pump more money into it kind of deal. But yeah, that’s again, data is king. You just have to, it’s hard, honestly, if you’re a startup and you’re building, it doesn’t have to be a game, just a mobile app. You know, it’s the whole. like you used to build a website and you direct traffic to the website, you had like a funnel and you’re tracking conversions. It’s a bit different. And a lot of these platforms, unfortunately, don’t have generous, like startup plans. So you kind of have to pay money to get access to this data. That’s one thing I don’t like about it because you can’t just build like, let’s say a free or an open source product that does what it just does in order to do what it just does. they have to have a really close working relationship with Facebook. So it’s kind of like a brotherhood that really gives me gas. But these tools are invaluable. Like you have to factor that into your startup costs when you’re starting a business, if you’re gonna build a mobile app, you need visibility into all of this. Otherwise, you’re just, I can’t see anybody succeeding. It’s super competitive, especially in games. There’s so many new games being introduced every day. And if you’re not really tracking the data and using it to make decisions on where you spend money, you’re gonna go broke fast.

Paris Vega:
I think every developer I’ve met just about deep down wants to be a game developer, but they’re just doing web development or software engineering until they can make their game.

Beau Button:
Well, I’m here to tell them it’s not all rainbows and fairies and pixie dust.

Paris Vega:
Right.

Beau Button:
It’s cool. It’s a paradigm shift. I mean, I spent 20 years in the enterprise software space building CRMs, ERPs, BPMs, like all of these boring acronym, but like they made money. Businesses needed

Paris Vega:
Right.

Beau Button:
this software in order to run their operations. So… When Sami approached me with this idea of building a consultancy, you know, and building games, I naively thought like, oh, games are fun. Building games must be fun. No, that is not

Paris Vega:
Right.

Beau Button:
true. But where we are now with our own successful IP with a relatively large team, it is fun. It’s very fun.

Paris Vega:
Yeah. Cause you have a little more of that control. And I think any type of agency work is kind of the roughest form of,

Beau Button:
Yeah.

Paris Vega:
you know, the white collar work, I guess it’s still considered white

Beau Button:
It

Paris Vega:
collar

Beau Button:
is.

Paris Vega:
work,

Beau Button:
I-

Paris Vega:
but

Beau Button:
as

Paris Vega:
it’s cause you’re,

Beau Button:
a-

Paris Vega:
you know, you’re building somebody else’s vision and they have control over what you do. So you don’t get to have that freedom and autonomy to make

Beau Button:
I

Paris Vega:
your

Beau Button:
know

Paris Vega:
own

Beau Button:
and

Paris Vega:
dreams

Beau Button:
look, that’s

Paris Vega:
come true.

Beau Button:
where I love to be is where if you wake up and you have a wild hair, you just do it, you bring it to the team, you know, and

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
we operate very aggressively agile for better or for worse. I always joke, I used to have a full head of hair prior to starting this company, but

Paris Vega:
I’m

Beau Button:
no

Paris Vega:
right

Beau Button:
more

Paris Vega:
there

Beau Button:
hair,

Paris Vega:
with you.

Beau Button:
a lot of cortisol, no hair. But no, it’s exciting to be able to do something like that. But yeah, like you said, when I was when we started this, this originally the consultancy, I had another ISV that was doing the same thing, but for enterprise apps. And you’re absolutely right. People would approach me with these brilliant ideas and I’m like, well, I’m just a hired gun if this thing works. I’m, I might make a little bit more money because you’re asking for a new functionality. But like, if you sell it for $10 million, I’m not going to see a dime of that.

Paris Vega:
Right. Exactly. So now you’ve got all your incentives aligned. You got the autonomy, the freedom, um, talk about a little bit about how you got there through the investor investment you said you had to raise. So you had to sell the investors on the idea. And you said it was like a later round of investment. So I’m assuming you had multiple rounds.

Beau Button:
That’s correct. We have

Paris Vega:
Okay.

Beau Button:
not closed the Series A. Everything that we’ve done to date has been considered a series, a seed. So when we

Paris Vega:
Okay.

Beau Button:
started the business, post the transition from consultancy to developing our own IP, we did a family, a friends and family round. It wasn’t a tremendous amount of money, but it was enough for us to go out and hire our first engineer, Morgan, who, like I said, is now our third co-founder. We, Sami and I, both realized that We can’t just keep outsourcing or we can’t outsource. We need to build a team and take the knowledge and lessons learned and kind of double down on building things in-house. And then as we progressed and we decided to build out Atlas Empires, that’s when we did convertible debt or convertible notes. It was a YC Combinator, kind of an investment approach. I’d be talking way above my pay grade if I went into any, I don’t know a whole lot about how it works behind the scenes. I just know that our attorneys was like, hey, look, yeah, you can use a safe. It’s a simple agreement for future equity. That was the vehicle we chose to use with our investors. And Sami reached out to a lot of his previous contacts at Acorns and some of the investors in Acorns. And because of his work and their relationship with him, they invested in us. I think we’ve done three, possibly four safe rounds. Right now, we are actively working on a series A to be determined amount valuation and timeline. But since we’re cashflow positive, there’s not a huge rush, but we would love some accelerant. We’d love to be able to put a little bit more fuel in the fire.

Paris Vega:
Okay. So, how did you pitch those investors?

Beau Button:
Well, that’s Sami’s job, thankfully.

Paris Vega:
Okay.

Beau Button:
I’m the tech guy. Now, again, it’s data, math. We built the game. A lot of the

Paris Vega:
Okay.

Beau Button:
initial, I think, buy-in from investors did not come from the game idea. It didn’t come from, oh, we’re inventing something new that no one else is doing. Clearly, having Pokemon Go be a success was helpful because we’re like, look. Clearly there’s an appetite for location-based games. There really aren’t any other location-based games. Clash of Clans, Supercell, massive. Still massive till this day. They’ve been around for, I don’t even know, it came out in like 2006, like the first

Paris Vega:
Right.

Beau Button:
SDK for iOS. Supercell was like, hey, here’s this killer game. And it has stay in power. So, all of those things didn’t hurt us, but I think what really helped us was Sami’s relationships with these people. You know, it’s just Sami is a hard working person. He did a lot for Acorns and people respected him. So when he reached out and said, hey, I have a game, you know, a develop, a game development company and we’re building our own IP. Obviously they looked at the pitch deck. It wasn’t just a picture of Sami saying, Hey, give me money. I’m Sami.

Paris Vega:
Right,

Beau Button:
We had

Paris Vega:
right.

Beau Button:
a clear vision. We knew what we wanted to do. We had a lot of data that was in our favor, like the usage numbers from Pokemon go. Now, we were very blunt in saying, well, we’re not Pokemon, we’re not trying to be Pokemon, but

Paris Vega:
Bye.

Beau Button:
there’s clearly an appetite for this, so give us some money so we can figure it out.

Paris Vega:
Okay, cool. So it relied, a chunk of that relied on his reputation as a founder,

Beau Button:
That’s absolutely

Paris Vega:
past

Beau Button:
right.

Paris Vega:
success. I

Beau Button:
Yep.

Paris Vega:
think that’s a

Beau Button:
I

Paris Vega:
common

Beau Button:
would say

Paris Vega:
pattern.

Beau Button:
for the first seed, so family and friends, it was, hey, you know who we are. We’re both somewhat serial entrepreneurs. Sami went down kind of a commercial route with Acorns. He wasn’t a co-founder there, but he was an early employee. I’ve always been a serial entrepreneur. I’ve held a few jobs, but at the end of the day, I just, I don’t operate well when someone else is telling me what to do. But the friends and family was, hey, we have an idea. That first seed round was, hey, Sami, this is his business, you trust him. After that, we did have data from the product to use to really convince investors that this wasn’t just two people getting together, that were hardworking people that knew a lot about either software development on my side or marketing on Sami’s side. We have a product that just needs some funding so we can grow the team and throw more money into the marketing. A lot of that money did go into just marketing. So that paid user acquisition, those campaigns, is where a lot of the funds went.

Paris Vega:
And you said you built the game before pitching investors, right? And so you were

Beau Button:
Well…

Paris Vega:
able to show them or you able to show enough of it, maybe a prototype.

Beau Button:
Yeah, so we had concept art, we had a game

Paris Vega:
Okay.

Beau Button:
design document, how we were gonna make money. A lot of what’s in the game, Atlas Empires, it’s still available today, wasn’t what we were pitching. It changed drastically. We’ve actually rebuilt that game. So the version that’s in the App Store now is like AV2. We actually abandoned V1 in its entirety and migrated all of the players over, but no, we didn’t have the working game, but we had enough of… a game design and a business plan to pitch it to investors.

Paris Vega:
Okay. So I always think that’s interesting. The timing there on deciding how much to build versus how much do you need to just

Beau Button:
Yeah,

Paris Vega:
pick?

Beau Button:
we’re not your stereotypical like game dev or indie dev. You know, there are a lot of game developers that operate exclusively off of passion. And my heart hurts a little bit for those guys because they spend so much time building brilliant, like just from a tech perspective, from an art perspective, from a gameplay perspective, but they struggle to gain traction. And they’re not the ones that really should be out there fundraising for a multitude of reasons.

Paris Vega:
So they need that

Beau Button:
But

Paris Vega:
key partner.

Beau Button:
yeah, so like it was really important. I was on the tech side. My goal was learn how to build games, learn how to build games fast, hire the right people. Even to this day, even though I’m the CTO, I still hire everybody. I interview everybody, everybody that’s an employee, which right now we have 31 employees has gone through me. But yeah, it was we we. Put together a proof of concept, we did some exploratory work. The location-based thing was kind of new. There weren’t a whole lot of tools readily available. We made some really strategic partnerships. Instead of trying to build all of this GIS, the Geographical Information Systems, back end ourselves, we just leveraged what was already out there, which really did help us. And that’s another area where any software engineer, especially in startups, they just want to build everything themselves. They want to own it. But they don’t realize that. Write as little code as possible. Own as little of it as possible. Just do what you need to do to build the product.

Paris Vega:
Hmm. OK, so say a little more about that. Because I know once you get into the tech side of things, there’s tons of debate on which tech stack to use to build any given feature or

Beau Button:
Oh yeah,

Paris Vega:
to

Beau Button:
thankfully

Paris Vega:
start.

Beau Button:
I used to be one of those guys. Uh, I started when I was eight in tech, like legit writing software, not commercially, it was just a hobby. Um, I was born and raised in New Orleans and I had kind of like a red pill and a blue pill, the red pill was go outside. It’s a hundred degrees, a hundred percent humidity and play hide

Paris Vega:
Thanks.

Beau Button:
and go seek or. Stay inside and play on the old school computer prior to the internet. And I was like, you know what? I’ll take the blue pill. I’ll stay inside the air condition. Um, so I really doubled down on, I wasn’t writing sophisticated software. I was doing basic things. And this is right around the time where like AOL and dial up internet and home pages. So it just, it was a perfect recipe for me to just get into it. But, um, in regards to tech stacks, it doesn’t matter. I mean, yes, there are pros and cons performance, you know, the developer experience, a lot of times we talk about customer experience, user experience, but. As a developer, as a technical co-founder, I talk a lot about DX, developer experience. I have an affinity for Microsoft technologies and that’s not a popular opinion, but I come from the enterprise space. And quite frankly, if it

Paris Vega:
building.net.

Beau Button:
wasn’t for Microsoft, yes, we’re a.NET shop. I’ve been a.NET developer since before it was called.NET. My first job at the age of 15 was a full-time software engineering job using visual basic script and active server pages.

Paris Vega:
Thanks.

Beau Button:
It paid me a lot of money for a 15-year-old. I remember to this day, the first check,

Paris Vega:
Crazy.

Beau Button:
my mom was like, what did you do for this money? I’m like, you’re never going to believe it, but I wrote an e-commerce engine and a content management system in ASP with VB. She’s like, I don’t know what any of that means.

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
No, look, it doesn’t really matter. If you are

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
a technical co-founder or… Let’s say if you’re not a technical co-founder, but you have someone that you feel like is a good candidate for a technical co-founder, do not try to influence the stack. Let them use the tools. None of that really matters at first. You just have to ship something. And that’s what I always tell people. It’s really easy to build software. And I know people are like, well, I can’t. Well, I know, but I’ve been doing it for 30 years. It’s

Paris Vega:
Right.

Beau Button:
really hard to ship software, to get it out of the door

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
into the user’s hands is super hard, super hard.

Paris Vega:
So what was the first project that you worked on that actually had customers? So it sounds like you had a job and so you got to work on software early on.

Beau Button:
Yeah,

Paris Vega:
You said you

Beau Button:
no,

Paris Vega:
were 15.

Beau Button:
at the age of 15, so prior to 15, I worked at Piggly Wiggly. My first W2 job was at a grocery store. It’s a Southern, actually they’re all over the place. I’ve been in

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
strange areas where I’m like, that’s a Piggly Wiggly. I thought they were just in the South.

Paris Vega:
Right.

Beau Button:
But yeah, my first job was I stock shelves at the age of 15, which is the age in Louisiana that you can start working without some kind of crazy worker’s permit. kind of opaque. I don’t remember what the deals were, but I remember seeing the sign and my mom was like, Hey, you know, look at that. I’m like, Oh, let me go. And back then, I mean, I think it was $5 an hour was minimum wage, but that was $5 more an hour than I had ever seen. The only thing

Paris Vega:
Right.

Beau Button:
I’d done prior to that was cutting grass, which was honestly lucrative. We made a lot of money cutting grass, but look, it was cutting grass out in the heat. And I’m like, there has to be a better way. I’m a software guy. There has to be a way for me to make money in air conditioning. But Once, I think I spent about a year and a half at Piggly Wiggly and this was around the time that Monster.com was like the de facto standard job board. They were running Super Bowl ads. Excuse me. And I remember I went to Monster.com after kind of building up enough confidence in my technical ability. I was 15 and I was really good at ASP, active server pages. So building web applications.

Paris Vega:
What were you building to build your skills? What kind of things

Beau Button:
Man,

Paris Vega:
did you build?

Beau Button:
I was doing bulletin boards. We used to have a lot of these guest books. So like, you know, when you had like GeoCities or Tripod, this is like

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
a free web, a homepage hosting service.

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
I wasn’t building, like this predates kind of e-commerce, like processing credit cards back then took an act of God. Thank

Paris Vega:
Right.

Beau Button:
you, Stripe, I’m not employed or an affiliate of Stripe, but I love you, Stripe, if you hear me. But yeah, that’s what I was doing. I was basically building out my own homepage. I was hosting a lot of the static stuff on GeoCities, trying to figure out servers. Well, you’re hosting software. You can’t host that for free anywhere. But a lot of it was guest books where people would visit your website, type in a little message and click post. And then I got into the bulletin boards or slash forums. Every one was like a bespoke solution. It wasn’t like it was modules. Like every time I’d start from scratch, but. That’s what kind of built up my confidence. I was using databases to save data and to render data in, you know, to the page. And I think one day I just remember going to monster.com and I put, I don’t know. I, I can’t remember if I responded to a job post or if I just put, I didn’t have a resume, clearly it just said, I worked at Piggly Wiggly. I think what I did was I saw a job and it said ASP developer and it was in Metairie, Louisiana and it was on a street that was maybe 10 minutes away from my house. And I just like, holy hell, this is,

Paris Vega:
Thank

Beau Button:
I need

Paris Vega:
you.

Beau Button:
this. And I was like, I don’t care if I work for minimum wage, just get my foot in the door. And I wrote, I remember the blurb was I’ve worked at Piggly Wiggly for a year and a half, but I have four years of ASP experience. I’m currently in high school. You know. That’s it. That was my CV. I had nothing else.

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
I’m in public high school. I have no experience other than what I’ve been doing after hours and bless their heart. And I’m still very good friends with this gentleman today, Mr. William Scott. He responded and said, yeah, I’d like to talk to you. Can you come in for an interview? And I remember showing up decked out in like red and black and Nike. Like I look like a high school kid. And he interviewed me and I saw it in his eyes. He just was like, wow, this guy knows what he’s talking about and he’s cheap. You know, he got like the steel of the century. So I remember

Paris Vega:
Sure.

Beau Button:
I started working full-time after school. School would get out at 2.15. I’d go to North Causeway, go to work for six hours, and that was it. I mean, I worked there for four years, all the way up until my first year of college.

Paris Vega:
Wow. So when you were building skills, were you doing any freelance, getting paid for any of those projects?

Beau Button:
I did, but when I was 15, I didn’t have the social skills to really honestly sell anything. It was always a friend of a family. Hey, there’s this one guy, bless his heart. He’s been in every business on planet earth. I won’t name drop him in case he still knows who I am and he listens to podcasts, but he wanted to build some very bespoke software and it was a paid project. That was probably, I might have done two or three paid projects. One of them was like a home page, which was not programming, but it was HTML. It was before CSS even existed. It was just basic HTML. I remember I really, I learned a lot about Photoshop doing that project. And till this day, I still know a lot about Photoshop because of that. But no, I mean, prior to me becoming an employee, I didn’t have to. Like in order to learn, I wasn’t out there like doing a lot of full hire work, but I did do a few things. I made a little money, but it wasn’t the kind of money that I had from a full-time job.

Paris Vega:
Right. Okay. That’s, that’s really cool story. Um, here in that kind of ambition, what do you think, uh, pushed you to, to start working? Was it just at that point, was it kind of pure passion? Just, you love doing coding stuff. The opportunities there.

Beau Button:
I wish I knew, man.

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
I have an insatiable appetite for knowledge and I’ve always been that way. I love tearing shit apart, excuse my French.

Paris Vega:
Okay, so

Beau Button:
I

Paris Vega:
some curiosity.

Beau Button:
love taking, it is, it’s insatiable. Like, I just need to know, you know? And

Paris Vega:
I’m going to go ahead and turn it off.

Beau Button:
the computer was, I didn’t have to go outside. So like prior to me really getting deep into computers, my dad was a pipe fitter, very hands-on, mechanically inclined, working on cars, building engines, rebuilding engines. for about four years, probably between the age of like seven and 12, I did a lot of small engine work, building Briggs and Stratton, Tecumseh engines. It was just something that I did and I’d build go-karts and mini bikes. And I just love that. And quite honestly, I kind of got the same satisfaction from software, but I wasn’t dealing with grease, fuel, carburetor fluid, or heat. So I was like, man, I can build things and not have to go outside. And it’s kind of funny, I’ve done a 180. you know, now that it’s been 30 years, I find myself wanting to go outside and actually touch something and build something that can roll

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
and move, because I’m just sick of computers, because like everything

Paris Vega:
feel

Beau Button:
is a

Paris Vega:
that.

Beau Button:
computer now. My refrigerator has a damn IP address. And I’m just like, I don’t, I remember when the internet was just me and my neighbor, but

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
yeah, it’s just an insatiable appetite to understand how things work. I mean, I’d be lying if I didn’t kind of, like I grew up really, not poor, like we, I wasn’t homeless. but

Paris Vega:
Mm-hmm.

Beau Button:
my dad was a Vietnam veteran, my mom was a housemaker. I didn’t, we always had food. I’ll tell you that we always ate, but there was just this drive to do better. It wasn’t a toxic home environment, but I didn’t really have like this motivational speaking mom or dad that inspired me. Honestly, the inspiration would be my sister. She was the one that kind of probably had the same sensation. I just want to get the hell out of this house and become independent. Bless our heart. She wasn’t a software engineer, but she busted her butt and worked and she really took care of me So I’d say that’s what drove me was I just wanted to do better for myself

Paris Vega:
That’s cool. I feel that also came from a financially poor

Beau Button:
Yeah.

Paris Vega:
background. And it’s, yeah, it’s like, Hey, okay. I’ve experienced this part of life.

Beau Button:
Let’s

Paris Vega:
What’s

Beau Button:
what’s

Paris Vega:
the,

Beau Button:
next. What’s next?

Paris Vega:
yeah, what’s

Beau Button:
Yeah.

Paris Vega:
the different part of life? Let’s, uh, let’s try something else.

Beau Button:
That’s exactly right. No, I’m done with that flavor. What’s the next flavor? And

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
I haven’t looked back. It would again, timing was right. I used to get AOL CDs in the mail, I didn’t have to pay for the internet, you know, because back then $19 a month like prior to me getting a job. And that’s where like, getting that job and making minimum wage changed everything. I could buy the computer I wanted, I could get books I wanted, I could pay for high speed internet. So no, it worked out well, but it was just perseverance. And that’s still to this day, I’m a stubborn person. Especially with things around the house as a homeowner, it’s like, oh, the pool filter isn’t working. Well, I’m not paying somebody $1,000 to take apart a fiberglass pill and tell me that it’s broken. I can do that myself.

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
And I do. And sometimes I regret it. It’s not always.

Paris Vega:
Right.

Beau Button:
a great idea, but I’d say 80%

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
of the time, you know, if you’ve got the time and you’ve got the right tools, just do it.

Paris Vega:
Yeah. And then for those 20% when you can’t figure it out, thank God for the professionals who

Beau Button:
You have

Paris Vega:
can

Beau Button:
to know

Paris Vega:
get

Beau Button:
when

Paris Vega:
deep.

Beau Button:
to throw in the towel. If it’s

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
sewerage or if it’s high voltage or high amperage electricity, don’t

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
even attempt it. Look, I can touch a 110, 20 amp circuit with my two fingers and tell you, oh, it’s hot, but I’m not messing with sewerage. I’ll do PVC and I’ll do some basic plumbing, but

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
that’s about it.

Paris Vega:
Uh, what would you say, uh, you’ve mentioned this a little bit, but what would you say to somebody, uh, maybe on the technical side, who’s wanting to start their own project, maybe they’re at an agency, maybe they’re freelancing, whatever, but they’ve got that similar dream of, you know, starting their own app or game or something like that, uh, maybe some perspective you can give now that you’ve kind of come to the other side of it and actually, you know, built something successful. What would

Beau Button:
Yeah,

Paris Vega:
be your advice?

Beau Button:
this is probably not going to be popular. So I’ve worked with a lot of people who have tried to become technical later on in life. There’s

Paris Vega:
Hmm.

Beau Button:
a lot of these boot camps. I’m not saying it’s not a good use of time. The more you know, the better. But if you start playing piano at the age of three, it’s going to be hard for you to compete with somebody. Or if you start playing piano at the age of 30, it’s going to be hard for you to compete

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
started playing at the age of three, it becomes part of that person. And if you have an idea and you’re not technical, I’m not trying to say you shouldn’t attempt it. It’s still good knowledge. It’s good for you to be able to fact check a developer when they’re rallying off acronyms and you have no

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
idea. It’s good. But what I’d like to tell people is, if you have children, start now.

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
It’s not too late for you. It’s an uphill battle. But… If you have children, drive them, not force them, because I have three kids and quite honestly, not a single one of them. I have a 16 year old, a 13 year old, an 11 year old. So this could be considered hypocritical. I’m not pushing them in any one direction, but I am dropping hints, significant hints that you need to figure out what it is that drives you, that you love now. Because if you start now, before you get out of high school, you are invincible, invincible.

Paris Vega:
Mm.

Beau Button:
But for the folks who want to start a business that aren’t technical, you really need to find a sound technical co-founder. Ideally somebody that you trust that you’ve, you’ve known from high school, from middle school somewhere that recipe, like Sami is non-technical. I mean, having worked with me now for the better part of a decade, like he’s more technical than he ever has been, but like that dynamic duo, it just works. But if you think you’re going to go from. a regular white collar job and having no software engineering experience and you’re going to publish a mobile app, you can do it. I’ve seen people do it, but it’s not going to be easy and it’s not the best use of your time. It’s not. I know, like I said, it’s not going to be,

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
I wish I had like, go sign up for this boot camp 16 weeks,

Paris Vega:
Right.

Beau Button:
you’ll be a react developer and then you could build, you know, there’s so many moving pieces and it’s just, it’s best to find people that already have that experience. But the bigger takeaway is, if you have children, do whatever it is that you need to do now to help them find their passion. Because I’ve met a lot, like one of our, actually he’s a previous business partner of mine who started to work with us here at Atlas Railway. We both started really young. There’s no other person on this planet that, like William is his name, William Sausman. The two of us, when we get in the room, it’s like same wavelength, same energy. We just know. a lot about how it works and the two of us can run circles around people. And that’s,

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
it’s hard to learn that.

Paris Vega:
Right, you can’t replace that depth of years of experience and all the different situations you’ve seen and

Beau Button:
Yeah,

Paris Vega:
yeah.

Beau Button:
and I have a really bad memory, but it’s fun. Like when it comes to dates, bless their hearts, my three children. If we go to a bounce house that requires a waiver, my middle daughter is my secretary, and I’m like, hey, fill the birth dates out. Like I just, I’m incapable

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
of remembering dates, but I could probably close my eyes and still see the screen in 2000, maybe 1999 of the PC that I was writing, a product called Web Boss was the CMS. Like… I, if I saw that code today, I would know the code. That’s

Paris Vega:
Right.

Beau Button:
just, my brain’s wired that way. But yeah, it’s, I know rabbit holes. I can see them from a mile away. I still go down them occasionally. Sometimes it’s fun, but you know, you can really get screwed there. But yeah, that’s, it’s hard to teach that also. It’s a timing thing, but like

Paris Vega:
Okay.

Beau Button:
I said, it’s

Paris Vega:
Can you speak to the other side of it? Like let’s say there’s a technical person, they’ve been technical the whole time, focused on code and all that, but they just haven’t figured out how to, you know, turn their maybe passion project or that thing they’re really wanting to build in their own business yet.

Beau Button:
Yeah. All right. So a few things. KISS. K-I-S-S. I don’t know if it’s keep it simple, stupid, or keep it stupid, simple. I think keep it stupid, simple instead of telling somebody that you’re stupid. But

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
this is hard. As an engineer, we love new libraries, new versions of shiny things. And

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
you’ve got the cloud. You’ve got, I could rattle off like Kubernetes and people are like, well, It’s complicated. And when you’re starting out, don’t complicate things. Don’t overthink things. Just, there’s a few things, like there’s people that build minimally viable products. I’m on the fence on MVPs at the end of the day. Like as an engineer, you know, I can build things quickly. So just don’t complicate things. Just focus on the shipping part. Like getting it out of the door into the hands of users. And

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
your users are not your friends. When you ask for feedback, do not send it to your inner circle. They’re going to lie to your face, because they’re afraid they don’t want to upset you. Get out there. Whatever audience you can get, if it’s on a Facebook group or Reddit, find a group of people that, let’s say, you’re building a mobile app or a web app or a SaaS platform, like you’ve got to find your audience. And if you can’t find your audience, don’t build it, because how in the hell are you going to sell it?

Paris Vega:
Mm.

Beau Button:
If you can get in front of them, get it in their hands. Even if it’s like a prototype, that’s something that I really started to love and buy into probably two or three years ago is things like Figma and InVision. So instead of building software, build these interactive, almost like glorified SharePoint, not SharePoints. What’s the presentation? PowerPoints,

Paris Vega:
PowerPoint

Beau Button:
PowerPoints. but you can express what it is that the product’s going to do without having the right code. It’s very agile, you can change things, get feedback. So,

Paris Vega:
Thanks for watching!

Beau Button:
you know, shorten that feedback loop as fast as you can. Get it into the hands of users. Don’t focus on like, well, I need to be able to scale. And this is a problem, this is actually, I’ve suffered this several times. It’s like, well, I know this is gonna be big, so I’m gonna engineer it as if Facebook was engineering it. and then it takes six months and you launch it.

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
And yeah, it’s just like, yeah, I should have just done it the old school way because we scrapped it. Nobody used it or something. Just get it out there and if it crashes, this is the other thing. There’s no such thing as perfection in anything that we do. And if you’re a perfectionist, I’m sorry, you’re never gonna achieve it. I hate the burst your bubble. If shit crashes in the middle of the day in the busiest time of the year for your product, I’m not saying it’s a great look, but it’s okay, we’re all gonna live. Get it out the door, learn from those mistakes, improve your product.

Paris Vega:
Yeah, because that’s a kind of a best case scenario too. If you, if it grows to max out your original.

Beau Button:
That is a beautiful

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
thing. It’s painful, trust me. And I’ve lost a lot of hair because of that. Like this journey for Atlas Earth has not been very smooth. We’ve had a lot of technical headwinds, but guess what? We’re here and the team is happy. Yeah, there’s some days where you’re stressed, but you

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
engineer around it and you just pick up the pieces and move on. You can’t just sit there and kind of like Monday morning quarterback, well, why’d this happen? Yeah, like you need answers. Like, okay, we made a mistake. We understand that. Let’s try not to do that again, but let’s move forward.

Paris Vega:
So how critical is it finding the right partner? Because that seems like part of the key to the success in your situation. You had obviously, you’ve got the technical background, you could build anything probably, but it seems

Beau Button:
It’s

Paris Vega:
like

Beau Button:
the most

Paris Vega:
once you

Beau Button:
important

Paris Vega:
partnered

Beau Button:
thing.

Paris Vega:
up,

Beau Button:
Yeah, it’s the

Paris Vega:
okay.

Beau Button:
most important thing. It doesn’t matter what tech you use. It doesn’t matter what cloud you use. It doesn’t matter what programming language you use. If the person or people that you’re partnered with aren’t on the same wavelength, it’s hard to succeed. And honestly, in the other businesses that I’ve either bowed out of or I’ve had one successful exit bless their heart, it just wasn’t there. and it makes everything more difficult. So the problems you’re solving aren’t really the problems that you’re trying to solve for the product. It’s the internal bureaucracy and just disagreements.

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
And it’s like, damn, man, I don’t like this anymore. But yes, you really do need to find the right partner. And that’s a tough one because like my partner Sami, he’s actually the younger brother of a really close friend. So it wasn’t like I knew Sami directly. I knew his older brother, but. I knew enough about Sami and I saw what he was doing and I interacted with him, but I trusted him. And it was one of those things that just, it worked, it just clicked. We haven’t really honestly, we’ll disagree sometimes, but it’s not like this fiery disagreement. And normally all it takes is just some data on the screen for us to decide which direction to go. But it’s really nice knowing that I don’t have to worry about that headwind. When I wake up, it’s not like, oh, what’s he going to

Paris Vega:
Yeah,

Beau Button:
do today? What’s he going to want

Paris Vega:
right.

Beau Button:
today? Which I spent six years of my life in a venture that I co-founded that was exactly that. And I’m just like, never again, never again.

Paris Vega:
Yeah. So it sounds like you guys have a really good, clear division of labor. Like, you know what you’re in charge of and it’s super clear and he’s in charge of a different aspect and that’s super clear.

Beau Button:
Absolutely. And honestly, we rarely have to ask for approval for things. It’s just, there’s this inherent trust. I know what he’s responsible for and he knows what I’m responsible for. And it’s not like I have to ask him, Hey, do you like, no, like you do what you need to do. And that level of autonomy really increases

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
throughput. It really does.

Paris Vega:
That seems

Beau Button:
But

Paris Vega:
like

Beau Button:
again,

Paris Vega:
that

Beau Button:
that

Paris Vega:
was a lot of problems before they

Beau Button:
it

Paris Vega:
would

Beau Button:
does.

Paris Vega:
even happen.

Beau Button:
Yeah,

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
we just don’t have those kind of problems. Like we might’ve butted heads in the, I think we started this business in maybe late 2016, whatever we’re going on, it’s a long time. We might’ve butted heads twice. And even then it was like maybe for 45 minutes where I was just pissed off, but like two times in six or seven years, like

Paris Vega:
Yeah.

Beau Button:
I’ve been in a lot of relationships, I’ve had a lot of partners. That’s a damn good track record.

Paris Vega:
Yeah, that’s awesome. Man, you’ve dropped some gold here today and I appreciate you taking the time to talk to us. Uh, I think there’s some really good lessons, um, for founders and technical founders, non-technical founders. Uh, so this is some really good stuff. Um, and it’s a cool product that you guys have built. I’m gonna, I’m gonna do a little more digging and check it out. Maybe I can make some virtual real estate money myself.

Beau Button:
Yeah, look, there’s money to be made. And one of the commitments that Sami and I are making to our players is I want you to make money. I genuinely want to build a product where a gamer can earn passive income. It’s not what we have today, but you have to walk before you run. We’re pretty conservative in how much money we’re giving back to players, because obviously we want to be here for the long haul. We don’t want to just shoot our load all at once and run out of money. So we’re doing everything within our power to establish relationships with big brands, to give you more rewards so you can buy more vertical real estate and ultimately make more money each month. But it’s not for everybody right now. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but that’s the spirit of the entire organization. It is commitment to play to earn and above board, no cryptocurrencies, no rug pull. I want you to make money. I want you to have fun. And right now, arguably, there’s not a whole lot of fun to be had in a game where all you do is buy land. There are some really cool intergame loops, like you become the president of the country or the mayor of a city, but it takes time. So we’re doing everything in our power to kind of build that out. But yeah, check it out. It’s cool, trust me. I love what I do and I’m excited to be a part of this.

Paris Vega:
cool. All right, everybody. Thanks for listening. This was Bo Button with Atlas Reality, the makers of Atlas Earth. I’m Parise Vega, your host. This is another episode of the First Customers Podcast. See you guys next time.

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