OTRO Games: 1001 words and phrases to a new family business
Tuesday, July 30, 2019
Growing up in Ukraine, Anna Otroshchenko always dreamt of living near the ocean and her husband, Serhii, dreamt of building a family business. On July 3rd, 2018, these two dreams became a reality when Anna and Serhii moved to Halifax from Lviv, Ukraine.
One year later, Canada Day 2019 finds Serhii and Anna in the midst of launching Hali Drive, the first mobile game from their new family business, OTRO Games.
Inspired by their love of Halifax, Hali Drive is designed to introduce new Nova Scotians to the city and encourage more people to visit. The mobile game allows users to enjoy the city view, drive unique vehicles, and learn about Halifax.
We caught up with Anna from OTRO Games to learn more about the business, the local business environment, and what makes Nova Scotia an ideal place to call home.
Q: First of all, OTRO Games – what’s the story behind that name?
A: It took some time to create a name, as we tried 1001 combinations of words and phrases. But in our case, it is a family business, so we decided to add something from our personal names. “Otro” are the first four letters from our surname. And as we are about gaming, we simply added “Games”. Voilà!
A: Our story started when we decided to move to Canada. We knew we wanted to get permanent residency to give us the options to either study, work, or do business and dove into researching the different programs offered by each province.
We found that Nova Scotia has open programs and are welcoming to new people, so after researching the program and determining our eligibility we said, "Let's try." So, we applied and then we got a nomination, and we received the required number of points, and then applied to general program Express Entry. And then we moved here on July 3rd, 2018!
Q: What do you love most about living here?
A: The ocean. When I was younger, it was always my dream to live near the ocean, so I was very happy about it. I love that you can see the ocean every day. I think it makes this city special.
Q: What do you like best about Nova Scotia for growing your business?
A: For growing our business, Halifax seems to be a perfect place because of how friendly and supportive it is. It was very easy to start a business in Nova Scotia, even without prior experience in Ukraine. All of the information we needed was clear and open and accessible online, making it easy to start. There are also a lot of organizations and programs to help businesses grow, which has been a really good thing.
There are also a lot of organizations and programs to help businesses grow, which has been a really good thing.
Q: Have there been any specific organizations that have been particularly helpful?
A: I think Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS) is the most important organization for any immigrants that come here to Nova Scotia and to Halifax.
ISANS has helped us a lot. When we first came here to Halifax, a guide helped us get started with different things like getting social insurance and health cards. Once we decided that we wanted to start a business, we were assigned a business counselor, who has cared about us from day one. We had just met each other a day before…we weren’t even “friends” yet, but he started helping us right away. This has been very important to our business.
Once we decided that we wanted to start a business, we were assigned a business counselor, who has cared about us from day one.
ISANS also has a business subscription list where all topics and announcements are related to business, such as upcoming sessions and workshops. These things are very helpful, especially if you don't know Canadian culture or the intricacies of running a business (such as accounting, taxation, or business structures) in Canada or Nova Scotia.
Q: What advice would you give to someone else coming to Nova Scotia?
A: There are a lot of different programs at ISANS, but of course, you have to be proactive too. Subscribe to their newsletter. Ask questions. Be active. There are a lot of opportunities, but you need to do your part to find out about them.
Q: What was one of the things you learned through the immigration process?
A: It’s just about the time – that it's a long process. You will not get here in a few months, so you need to spend a lot of time and you need to prepare a lot of documents, because there are certain requirements to meet. It's just all about timing and persistence. That's it.