A strong community can promote new ideas and ensure accountability. It can also act as motivation, support, and even provide a little friendly competition. The power of community is undeniable and the Okanagan tech community is no exception.
Our community is strong and growing with record speed and maintaining a connection through a period of growth like this can be a challenge. Nobody panic, we’ve got a plan.
We are #OKGNtech is a showcase of Okanagan tech entrepreneurs, partners, supporters, and cheerleaders designed to fuel more connection, more growth, and more excitement. Follow along on the blog and on Instagram @OKGNtech to learn more about our growing community and what makes them awesome.
Meet Justin. Justin McMichael is the Founder & Chief Executive Officer of KinematicSoup. When he’s not making MMOs a more massive experience, you’ll find Justin taking a tech break and biking, hiking or tending to his hay farm.
Where do you work in the Okanagan?
I head up KinematicSoup Technologies as the CEO and founder. We started the company with the vision of making massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) easier to build. And we’ve developed a few interesting tools to do that. Now, with all this talk about the metaverse, we’re starting to partner with people that are building experiences with huge population counts. Normally, an optimized and bespoke system could host 1,000 people in a scene together, but we’ve been able to break 10,000 and we’re on our way to 20,000.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I like the technology in particular. There are a lot of interesting problems to solve and compression is a fascinating field with endless possibilities. Since being involved in Workfire and then Packeteer in the 90s, I’ve basically had a string of startups—all dealing with networking and bandwidth in one shape or another. Some did okay while others turned into learning opportunities that would help Kinematic balance the most efficient technology with the best user experience.
What advice would you give to someone interested in a career like yours?
The gaming industry is an interesting animal because you’re working with very creative people who are leery of sales and other aspects of a business that are usually cookie-cutter. You need to take a different approach. If you want to get into gaming tools, you have to identify a problem and solve it well. In our case, we validated the idea early by pitching our basic prototype to an entire studio. When they asked us when they could have it, that was when we knew we were building the right thing.
How were you first introduced to the OKGNtech community?
I was around while the community was forming so I’ve been able to watch it grow up and get to know the personalities. Early on, there were attempts to get tech going in the Okanagan but we needed acquisitions to really make that happen. Now we’ve seen some impressive tech plays happen like Club Penguin, QHR, and other companies that people weren’t even aware were there. It’s remarkable to see people just make a go of it and do world-class work.
Do you think there is anything missing from the community here?
We need a gaming group in town. There are gaming companies and organizations connected with that industry and we need to get those people together. A few of us started organizing those types of events before the pandemic at places like Hyper Hippo, but we need to keep it going and bring in more companies. It’s a great way for local developers to connect, discuss what it’s like to work in the industry and share advice.
Where are you when you’re not at work and when you’re not online?
I try to do anything that gets me outside like biking, hiking, going to wineries or someplace good to eat. I also have a hay farm and have come to realize that farming is kind of like having a lawn only bigger. It’s a nice change of pace from working in tech because you know exactly what you have to do so you just go out and do it.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? Or can share?
Assholes need not apply—which is to say that you need some compatibility with people on your team. There are people who come into a company ego-first and that mentality can be very damaging. I’ve overlooked things in the past and paid for it. Hubris needs to be tempered with humility and a genuine ability to participate.
Is there something you want to be remembered for?
As long as I can be remembered as someone who has provided help, like providing advice or guidance that works out for someone, I’ll be happy. In a way, I want to become some benevolent meme or say just the right thing at the right moment to really impact someone’s life. That would be fun.
It’s remarkable to see people
just make a go of it and do