Where retro-gaming and engineering meet – Lee’s business story
By Vicky-Eve Lovvorn | Date: 2022-01-31
Meet Lee Verkuylen, a member of Tulmar’s Engineering team. One thing that is great about working in a social environment, is getting to know each other: we have many talented people at Tulmar and this of course results in interesting stories.
In this edition of getting to know the people of Tulmar, I got to learn about how expertise in engineering can apply to a whole lot more than our regular work projects. Lee’s story is a perfect example of work translating into a passion, true expertise.
He has a hobby that pertains to video gaming; not the modern games you see today, but the type of games those who grew up in the 90’s are familiar with. The classics, retro games. And I am sure he’s far from the only one with an interest in these first generation games. For Lee’s demographic, there is a nostalgia with these games, triggered as easily as that familiar ding and sound of an old console turning on. But as he took part in the hobby, he realized a lot of the titles were limited in their availability… and some of the rarer games, possibly even
discontinued or abandoned releases, sold for a LOT of money… if you aimed at the original, at least. Others were adapted to the retro version of the consoles, but wouldn’t play on original old systems, or needed a bit of tweaking.
Lee tapped in his technical expertise and created circuit boards, through soldering and programming, and recycled, cleaned, and buffered the casing of old cartridges to retrofit them with his unique design. Some of his hardware designs are even unique in the world. What started out as a hobby for his own games turned into a home business.
These cartridges gave Lee a lot more accesses to these games, and also saved him a lot of money. Now, for those familiar to the gaming community, you will know that it is a rather social group, and people talk and debate quite frequently online, and on a lot of topics. Seeing this, not to mention all the offers of collector versions and other retrofitted games using other models or mechanisms, it didn’t take long for Lee to note the business opportunity his know how provided. So he started a business, creating a Website and even a complete brand for himself, developed his own distribution system and became competitive on the market. This endeavor really applied to all the aspects of running a business, including leveraging sourcing know-how to turn a profit, creating an online store front, managing the micro and macro economics, and studying the market. The website & listings also had to be very informative of the products. With many customers not benefitting from advanced technical knowledge, simplifying the key information available to help customers make informed purchase decisions is crucial. Lee’s hardware designs are so robust & long lasting that he provides a life-time warranty and free exchange.
The business soon turned its first profit and made many games accessible and affordable to many enthusiasts out there who otherwise would be unable to get their hands on these highly desirable and sometimes niche titles. With many happy customers, this turned into a success story, that keeps growing with each passing year. Others in the retro-gaming community have been inspired by Lee’s work and became motivated to pursue similar ventures of their own, contributing to the growth of this niche market.
Personally, I encourage everyone to take a few moments and get to know the people you work with. You could discover great stories and add very interesting, if not downright entertaining stories to your memory. You may even learn tips and tricks about your everyday tasks and duties in locations you never thought of looking. Like how useful expertise in military and aviation mechanical engineering can be to retro-gaming… and vice versa!