Gamer reveals how he went from playing 18 hours a day to a multi-million dollar tech company

When 29-year-old Lambros Photios, from Bondi in eastern Sydney, was 18, he spent an entire summer in his bedroom playing the game on his computer.

A gamer who would spend 16 hours every day on World of Warcraft has revealed how his obsession helped him launch a multi-million dollar tech startup.

At the age of 18, Lambros Photios spent all summer in his bedroom in Sydney’s Bondi playing the online game on his computer.

The now 29-year-old told FEMAIL there was “not much time for anything else” because his world revolved around the online universe and the friends he made playing it.

His mother was so concerned about his obsession that she feared he would never put the controls down and “come back to Earth.”

“She pointed it out to me a few times, and looking back, she had a viable reason,” said Mr. Photios.

Mr. Photios is pictured here working on his gaming forum - when he was well and truly addicted to WoW

Mr. Photios is pictured here working on his gaming forum – when he was well and truly addicted to WoW

The tech guru is pictured here, aged 17, when he was addicted to WoW.  He chose to wear this outfit for a dress up day at school

The tech guru is pictured here, aged 17, when he was addicted to WoW. He chose to wear this outfit for a dress up day at school

When college started, Lambros had no choice but to spend less time in his fictional, online world.

This focus on reality led him to start his own technology company, but if he hadn’t spent behind the keyboard, the software developer doesn’t believe he would have seen success.

“It started when a friend I knew from World of Warcraft asked me to help him build a forum where people could collaborate and work on strategy,” he said.

Mr. Photios was interested in programming before the project and managed to build the forum after teaching himself some coding.

Then fate intervened – a friend saw Lambros sitting with his laptop open in college and before he could close it – he noticed he was coding something.

“He was intrigued by all this and asked if I could build a website for a family friend’s medical practice,” he said.

Now the tech company boss can't even pick up a game without getting bored

Now the tech company boss can’t even pick up a game without getting bored

He was 19 at the time and it would be his first paid programming job — and the beginning of his journey to Station Five, his software development company.

Mr. Photios explained that the “virtual tokens” fascinated him with World of Warcraft – the game’s currency, the leaderboards and rewards for achieving milestones.

Five tips to build a successful business

1. Set ‘real world’ goals outside of your obsession

2. If you don’t have a business plan, you can stay flexible

3. You have to work hard – there’s no getting around it

4. If you are successful, be willing to give back

5. You need to stay physically healthy – because exercise helps to clear your mind and help you focus

“They’re addictive because they’re modeled after real life,” he said.

“So I unknowingly replaced all those virtual tokens with things in real life.”

He created his own metrics for success by converting the game’s currency into real Australian dollars.

“I realized you don’t need the game for awards – you can get them in real life and take them with you.”

The start-up was awarded the ‘AFR Fast Starter’ award for being one of Australia’s fastest growing technology companies before it had even made a business plan.

‘I started working from my parents’ house; after three years I made a business plan and when I was 23 I realized I needed to hire staff,” he said.

“Of course there’s a lot of strategy now, but I think starting without gave me the opportunity to turn around and work out what I have today.”

Today, the company has 71 employees and has grown by 160% in just two years.

He went from working on the medical website to building his portfolio with big brands like BUPA and AMP Capital.

His business success means he can employ 70 people and help aid organizations in some of the world's poorest communities

His business success means he can employ 70 people and help aid organizations in some of the world’s poorest communities

Now he works on the Swiss government’s World Food Program and tracking peace in Somalia to provide humanitarian organizations with real-time insight into where aid is most needed.

“We’re stuck with the program for eight years, which is really exciting,” he said.

“It’s also eye-opening and confrontational because it makes you aware of the incidents and makes me realize how wonderful it is not to be afraid of going to the office or the supermarket for fear that something will happen to your life.”

Pictured here with his friends, Lambros is excited that he can be successful doing what he loves

Pictured here with his friends, Lambros is excited that he can be successful doing what he loves

Aid is something the young tech guru didn’t think he could do until his fifties or sixties.

“I feel so blessed to be able to give back at 29 years old. It means I can devote more of my life to these goals,” he said.

And his parents couldn’t be prouder.

“When you go to college for a degree in engineering and commerce, you’re usually doing something in finance,” he said.

Lambros spent 16 hours every day playing the game during the free time between university and school

Lambros spent 16 hours every day playing the game during the free time between university and school

“So becoming a software developer was a risk. But my parents are proud of me for making something out of nothing,” he said.

And those 16-hour days in the chair certainly helped too.

“There are long days behind the screen in this job and patience is key,” he said.

Lambros now employs 70 people and is still excited about being able to live from behind his computer screen – something he was once told would be impossible.

It took Lambros “a year to put down the controllers” – now he gets bored in minutes trying to play a video game.

“I even have trouble playing something lighthearted,” he said.

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