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Kickstart Programme

Matthew Hamilton

York St John graduate Matthew is co-founder of Labrador Studios, an indie video games company.

Tell us about you

I moved to the UK in 2017 and fell in love with York. I started studying at York St John taking the Games Development BSc course. I always wanted to make a game even before studying and always had done mock-ups or writing up a game design document. I finally pulled the trigger in 2019 for a game I had designed in early 2018.

Tell us about your business

The business opened it doors in 2019 and is named Labrador Studios. It was cofounded by myself and Paul Jervis another York local who runs his own app development company Twelve Oaks. We make indie video games for PC and consoles. Our first game Live by the Sword: Tactics is currently available in Early Access on Steam and has been purchased in 47 different countries.

What were the main challenges of starting your business and/or going freelance?

All the paperwork and taxes. I hadn’t realized before running a business how much time you need to set aside for doing things that aren’t part of what you really want to be doing. I would say you spend 60% of the time doing the thing you started the business for and 40% of your time dealing with government paperwork. Not to mention just how much an employer pays in tax.

Did you receive any support/inspiration from York St John? If so, what?

Yes, the grad to director program was extremely helpful. They had us run through exercises like finding your target market and justifying the decision for them to be your target market. I also received support in obtaining my start-up visa after my student visa had run out. This included them being a sponsor for me so I could continue to stay in the country.

What’s the best thing about running your own business?

Being in control of your own destiny. You can work as hard as you want and reap the rewards. Making a living off of a passion is incredibly rewarding, waking up and knowing your work is something you enjoy helps you push through the tough times.

What tips would you give any aspiring student start-ups?

Get a good accountant, there are lots of rules and regulations that they can help guide you through to make sure you don’t upset the HMRC. Especially as your business expands and you have more and more to worry about. Make sure and stay organized, you have a lot of paperwork to do. A good organization strategy is a bedrock of a thriving business, you don’t want to waste time looking for documents.

Where can we find you/your business?

You can find us at  or on


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