With Hendrik Lesser, the FLEX portfolio company Nitrado now has a well-known figure from the gaming industry on its advisory board. In an interview with FLEX Managing Partner Peter Waleczek, Hendrik Lesser and Marcel Bößendörfer, CEO of Nitrado, talk about the advisory board position and what its appointment means for the company.
Hendrik Lesser is an entrepreneur and a known quantity in the gaming industry. In 2005 he founded the game development company remote control productions GmbH. In addition to his work as a consultant and member of various gaming associations, he has recently been supporting the FLEX portfolio company Nitrado as a member of the advisory board.
Marcel Bößendörfer is an entrepreneur, software developer and last but not least gaming enthusiast. In 2001, together with Marco Balle, he founded Nitrado, which is now the leading global provider of server software and game hosting.
Peter Waleczek is an entrepreneur and expert in strategy development and financial management at FLEX Capital. He was a management consultant at McKinsey for many years, built up the consulting company Clevis and the online store Herrenschmiede. In 2018, he founded FLEX Capital with his partners.
Hello Marcel, hello Hendrik. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this short interview with us today. Hendrik recently became a part of the Nitrado team as an advisory board member. We would like to take this opportunity to introduce you once again. Perhaps you would like to begin in your own words?
Hendrik: Very much so. I am the founder and managing director of remote control productions GmbH. This is a group of companies that now includes various game developers, studios, gamification and marketing agencies from Europe and Asia. I am also very active in the gaming industry. Among other things, I am president of the EGDF, European Games Developer Federation. Gaming is a 360-degree subject for me and has been with me all my life. I started playing when I was 4 years old. I’m 44 now, which makes a total of 40 years of experience in games and 25 years in the gaming business.
Marcel: I am the founder and CEO of Nitrado. I have been developing and running game servers for over 18 years, although my background at this point is more technical. I have evolved over time from a gaming enthusiast to a system administrator and learned software development along the way. Ultimately, I went from being a tech founder to a CEO. In the meantime, Nitrado is not only part of the FLEX portfolio, but also the largest game server provider in the world. We have over 200 employees, various locations, our own hardware, our own network and this distributed worldwide.
Gaming is a 360-degree subject for me and has been with me all my life. I started playing when I was 4 years old. I am now 44, which makes a total of 40 years of experience in the gaming business.
Hendrik, how did you come to be an advisory board member at Nitrado? What makes a good advisory board role for you?
Hendrik: I have known one of the FLEX founders for many years through the EO (Entrepreneurs’ Organization). He therefore knows me as a gaming expert and thus made the first contact with Nitrado. Previously, I had already held an advisory board position in a similar division. So it was a combination of my expertise in the gaming industry and the personal level. After Marcel and I spoke for the first time, it quickly became clear that we got along well and that it made sense to work together.
For me, a good advisory board position is about accompanying a company in its growth. This role makes particular sense in a company like Nitrado, which is already very well positioned in the market, but at the same time there is still a lot of potential going forward. I see myself as a pragmatic advisory board that also provides critical feedback in meetings, points out the perspectives of smaller and medium-sized customers, opens one or the other door, discusses issues, and ultimately speaks out openly about what it thinks will move the company forward.
I see myself as a pragmatic advisory board that provides feedback in meetings, draws attention to the perspectives of smaller and medium-sized customers, discusses issues, and ultimately speaks openly about what it thinks will move the company forward.
Where do you see growth potential at Nitrado?
Hendrik: In itself, the topic of dedicated servers in gaming is already somewhat older. But this is where I see great potential: by getting new development studios that design multiplayer games excited about putting their games on dedicated servers early on. So at this point to provide some awareness. Because I think a lot of people, even in gaming, don’t know exactly what dedicated servers are and why they can be exciting for businesses. Games, for example, can be pushed strongly as a result, and gamers are granted more freedom at the same time.
Growth potential also arises from the companies acquired, which can generate synergy effects and expand market positions.
Marcel, what makes Hendrik stand out as a good advisory board member?
Marcel: Hendrik has made a name for himself in the gaming scene over the years. It was exciting to meet him in person and we quickly realized that we were on the same wavelength. Hendrik immediately had enriching tips on how to better align Nitrado’s portfolio for the future. He is a doer; is well connected; knows what he is talking about. You can almost say it was love at first sight between us.
It was exciting to meet Hendrik in person and we quickly realized that we were on the same wavelength.
How can an advisory board position enrich a company?
Marcel: We also asked ourselves this question before making the decision, because this was something completely new for us. In our case with Hendrik, we can benefit from his vast experience with him as an advisory board member. I myself sometimes lack experience within the industry, which is why it makes so much sense to have someone on board who knows the entire industry inside and out. I like to refer to Hendrik as a sparring partner with whom we can discuss trends. It helps us to understand things better and to evaluate them. So we have an additional, informed opinion from an expert and that’s so much more value than we had hoped for when we started.
I like to refer to Hendrik as a sparring partner with whom we can discuss trends. It helps us to understand things better and to evaluate them. So we have an additional, informed opinion from an expert and that’s so much more value than we had hoped for when we started.
There is a big growth market in gaming. What opportunities do you see for Nitrado in the coming months?
Marcel: In many cases, it’s now a matter of making studios and publishers increasingly aware of the topic of dedicated servers again, because they have actually lost attention recently. Looking back, we see that many long-term successful titles support rentable servers. Our job at this point is to bring these big studios back to the community.
The other important topics are NFTs and blockchain. I see that it is an exciting field, which is sometimes controversial. You have to stay on the ball with these issues and not lose touch.
Hendrik: There was big consolidation news in the gaming industry at the beginning of the year. Here I am referring specifically to Microsoft’s acquisition of video game developer Activision as the largest acquisition ever made by Microsoft in the gaming space. There is still a lot to come. In turn, these growth processes in the gaming sector ultimately offer Nitrado increased opportunities. If we manage to make a case or two to corporations like Microsoft that they should go for dedicated servers, then we will bring about a change that has great potential for us as well.
The gaming sector is growing. New studios are being created every day. So not only is the trend in the overall industry positive for us, but it also fits well with what we offer and what we’re good at. I see great potential in the overall situation with regard to Nitrado’s growth.
The gaming sector is growing. Not only is the trend in the overall industry positive for us, but it also fits well with what we offer and what we are good at. I see great potential in the overall situation with regard to Nitrado’s growth.
What about the challenges in the coming months?
Hendrik: Nitrado was pushed hard for 18 years and a lot was achieved. To be able to achieve even more, we have to stay calm and not go crazy. I see that as the biggest challenge. Because we have the market itself under control; thanks to our many years of experience in the gaming sector, the ups and downs on the market no longer bother us. We just need to take care of ourselves and know what we want in the future and how to achieve those goals.
Marcel: I also think not going crazy in the long term makes a lot of sense. We just recently had the two acquisitions, APEX and McProHosting, and at this point we’re working intensively with the teams. Through the two companies, we will be able to learn a lot in the future by absorbing and applying the knowledge and experience. This is how we can reach the next level as a global group Nitrado.
On a short-term level, we will grow in terms of personnel, which of course also presents us with challenges that we will have to overcome. And ultimately, of course, we have a product that we care about. We focus on this in order to be able to offer our end customers the best quality. At this point, we must not miss any trends and not lose our focus.
To be able to achieve even more, we have to stay calm and not go crazy. I see that as the biggest challenge.
What are your favorite games to play?
Hendrik: I’m currently playing Dying Light 2 and also other, older Survivals. Ultimately, also to get a good feel for the work at Nitrado. My Guilty Pleasure is still Call of Duty, it relaxes me. But I have a lot of games in the rotation overall. Just the other day I estimated that I’ve probably played around 5,000 games in my entire life. Currently I play between 10 and 25 hours per week.
Marcel: At the moment, there is no game on the market that blows me away. Highlights from the last few years for me have been Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I also found Cyberpunk better than the critics have let on. I actually enjoyed that a lot and it was perfect for me as a target audience. In the long run, I’m still waiting for the next game that really captivates me.
Thanks to both of you for the exciting insights.