Thursday, November 26, 2015
G-Mats • 40k Interview
Hi everybody it's your friendly Black Blow Fly swinging through your neighborhood to spread some holiday cheer ! I hope everyone is enjoying time with friends and family... And getting ready for Black Friday ! I thought this would be a good time to share a recent interview I conducted with Matoush Houlsek who owns and operates Gamemat.eu. Besides showcasing some of his fabulous 6x4 mats you can use for Warhammer 40k I thought it'd be interesting to see just what really goes into running this type of business so without any further ado I'll jump right into the interview.
This product interview is all about gaming mats and will give us an insider's view about the processes required to create them. Gaming mats are somewhat of a niche industry which makes this line of work very unique.
Matoush Houlsek is the owner and operator of gamemat.eu. Gamemat.eu is the producer of gaming mats suitable for many wargaming hobbies. Their goal is to create fantastic looking and highly practical G-Mats to turn table tops into amazing battlefields and bring your games to life.
Here are the specifications for G-Mats:
Rubber based - non slip
Highly detailed colored printed surfaces
Rollable - after rolling G-Mats remain completely flat with no dog ears
Soft top - no loud dice sounds, smooth dice rolls and model movement
Anti Shine - no light reflections
Hello Matoush and a very happy holiday season greeting to you !
1) Can you tell us a little about yourself and what got you into this industry ?
Thank you very much for such opportunity! I am almost 33 years old, living in Prague, Czech Republic (aka "Heart of Europe). I have a loving wife and 2 kids.
I used to work as a stocks trader for past 10 years in EU markets and spent the last 4 years working in Warsaw, Poland (Hello to the Adeptus Mechanicus Club in Warsaw - you guys rock!). Since October I lost my job (sacked) and have since been 100% focused just Gamemat.eu and my family.
I bought my first starter set for 40k in the summer 2013 and got into hobby with fresh mind. I started to wonder why people most often play just on green carpets or wooden sprayed boards. On the other hand there were amazing plastic boards but very expensive and require a lot of time to paint. I started to look into other possibilities and found out there could be great compromise between price and visuals achieved by using rubber based battle mats.
I took the bet and got our first designs (only three) up and running. I then started to offer them via e-shop in April 2014. The next six months proved was successful so we started to expand.
2) Can you describe a typical day at work ?
Most of the time is consumed by marketing activities and talking to clients. I believe that good customer service and the willingness to adapt to customer needs gets you good feedback and as well better sales numbers in the long run. The rest of the time is divided into the planning of new products and expansion. The process of creating a new mat starts as a concept idea which I talk over with designer. We then work on several iterations and improve the original idea in the process.
Planning of production in such vast range is not an easy thing and I need to make sure I am almost all the time have full stock... thousands of mats in total. Sometimes this is hard to assure and then you'll can see pre-orders offered with a 10% discount we occasionally we us to promote them (they are basically mats waiting to be produced and reach full stock).
3) Where is the bulk of your market located and where do you want to expand ?
Numbers speak clearly - our biggest wargaming countries in the EU are United Kingdom and Germany. Our target is definitely the overseas markets now.
We are now able to serve USA and Canada in the same manner as European customers... And surprisingly cheap in total.
For USA we sell them including shipping you get your mat delivered for a total of USD 88. The mats are delivered within a week via FedEx airmail. That is amazing given the distance. In addition USD as currency is very strong now so my advice to all readers would be just grab this opportunity and get your stuff cheaper from the EU.
We work also on cooperation with some of the biggest US wargaming events and I hope we would be able to reveal some success stories here soon !
4) Do you receive a lot of customer feedback and if so how do you incorporate it into your G-Mats to better meet the demands of your market ?
I would say positive customers' feedback is one of the best rewards in doing any business. It keeps you motivated whenever a customer comes back to us with a message or pictures to share with us their happiness with product.
5) Where do you see gamemat.eu five years from now ?
I would like to keep largest range of battle mats on the market so anybody would be able to pick their favorite. Slowly I would like to be adding new products under our brand. We think about special terrain sets to complement mats designs - and also to offer a special gaming table - light, folding and exactly 6x4 feet size to allow you to play anywhere and anytime... So stayed tuned !
We have also added a sub-category of children playmats. You can check them at www.playmatforkids.eu. I had the product tested via our state certified institute and everything complies with strict European rules for kids products under 3 years of age.
The same applies for our battle mats as they are made with the same technology. So I can say we are the only one battle mats producer with a certified product... Safety first !!!
Moving forward I would like to help bring the European tournament scene to the next level via a regular series of tournaments based on table top terrain and mats so everyone can enjoy playing at a high visual level. I am also considering providing cash prize pools for winners to slowly get wargaming closer to professional sports including top player sponsor packages.
6) Do you play any war games yourself and which are your favorites? If you play Warhammer 40k what are your favorite armies and which do you collect ?
I play 40k only. I have built a CSM army, which is almost always beaten (I am bad player) and am now working on Astra Militarum and Scions - think fast, mobile (semi-MSU) army with lot of Tauroxes, Vendettas and veterans. I more like the look and feel of that army then I have any expectations for it to be competitive. Now I am really tempted to build an HH Death Guard army. The new plastic starter set just makes it much more easy now.
7) Please feel free to tell us anything about the gaming mat industry and gamemat.eu I didn't cover in the previous questions.
We plan to have new webstore soon. Probably in the beginning of 2016 which will bring lots of improvement compared to our current one.
Most importantly I would like to thank to all the people in the wargaming community as without them such a business wouldn't be possible. There are so many dedicated persons making the community grow and live. That brings the modeling and gaming hobby to a much more enjoyable level with all the people around you sharing their armies and battles over the internet which in turn keeps you motivated to assemble, paint and play more.
That's it for now... You really learn a lot about the industry behind our hobby by talking to people like Matoush. I'm sure his G-Mats would make some nice presents for this special time of year.