Dawit Abraham is an award-winning Game Developer and Android Application Engineer who led the development of Kukulu, a 3D infinite runner game for Android. Kukulu is the first 3D mobile game to be released in Ethiopia at its scale and also won the 2018 Apps Africa Innovation Award for Best News & Entertainment Solution.
On this week's How I Work, Dawit walks us through his work routines and how he stays productive.
Current role: CEO/Game Developer/Android Developer
Location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Current computer: MacBook Pro 2018
Current mobile device: Samsung S10+
Describe how you work in one word: Deliberately
Tell us briefly how you started out and how you got where you are today
My (real world) career began when I landed an internship at iCog Labs in 2014, a super cool AI research and development lab based in Addis. I quickly got assigned tasks that had a lot to do with game development, modelling, and animation. It was really new to me at the time and it was the most challenging experience I'd ever had; I fell in love with it immediately.
A year later, I was working as a part-time developer at this company while finishing my final year at Addis Ababa University. It was then I started working on building my first game, Kukulu.
After graduating, I co-founded Qene Technologies with colleagues I knew in college. I was also lucky to join Gebeya and take advanced specialised courses; there I met Amadou Daffe and Hiruy Amanuel. After half a year of pitching, mentorship, and preparation we got our first investment to build Kukulu.
Walk us through a recent workday
I arrived at Gebeya early in the morning to give my Advanced Java for Android class. Since the Qene office is conveniently located within the Gebeya building, I went back to my office and had a short meeting with our team of game developers, concept artist, and manager regarding a new product we're working on.
After lunch, I returned to my desk at our co-working area, opened Android Studio, Visual Studio, and Unity, then started working on some tasks assigned to me. A few hours later, I had a call with a game distributor representative to talk about a new deal we're working on.
After that, I had another call with an e-sport platform representative. I was happy because the calls went very well. Then I took some time to finish working on my non-programming related tasks and called it a day.
Be the smartest in the room
What apps, gadgets, or tools can’t you do without?
Android Studio, Visual Studio, Unity Engine, Adobe XD, Postman, Google Assistant (I used to forget a lot of things until she came into my life), Forest (an app that helps you concentrate for a set amount of time), Moon+ Reader (as I read a lot on my phone), and Ride (the Uber alternative in Ethiopia and it's my preferred way of getting around town).
What's your favourite shortcut or hack?
Command + Option + A, then Command + K (Because it usually means I'm done with my work 🙂)
What task(s) do you dislike but still do?
Selling. That's one of the major roles of being a CEO and I have to do it and do it well.
How do you keep track of what you have to do?
For my programming related tasks, I use a scrum board and Jira. But for my other daily tasks, I keep a short to-do list. I once read of a very effective method of organising to-do lists. In my list I have the following titles; today, tomorrow, after two days, and future. Each morning I drag each title (except today) to the bottom of their respective list. That way, the tasks that were assigned for tomorrow will now be under today and so on.
I've been using Google Keep to keep track of my to-do list for a while. But whenever a new task presents itself out of the blue, I ask Google Assistant to remind me to put that task in my to-do list.
How do you recharge or take a break?
Depending on the time of the day, I either go out for a snack and a cup of tea, practise my guitar or watch an episode of my favorite sitcom at night.
Besides work, what do you spend time doing? What do you enjoy?
I love learning new things. I'm currently learning French. Before that, I was learning to play the guitar. Before that the Ethiopian Harp (Begena). And before that, I was practising martial arts.
I also enjoy reading on my phone. I read various books focusing on topics ranging from including some very technical and engineering-related books, business and startups, history, psychology to fiction.
I also enjoy hanging out with friends once in a while, especially to go out and find new places to eat or to watch a good movie.
What are you currently reading, watching, or listening to? What do you recommend?
To any founder of any startup, I would recommend reading The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. Stop doing whatever you're doing and read this book! And to any programmer, I recommend Clean Code by Robert C. Martin (Uncle Bob). If you're a tech startup founder and you'll be working on building your product, please read both.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
List the top 20 things you want to achieve in your life. Take the first five, and throw the rest away! Learn to say No. And filter your priorities.
What’s a problem you’re still trying to solve?
The biggest bottleneck that's holding back the gaming and digital entertainment industry in Africa is the lack of African-friendly online payment solutions and content distribution platforms that use such payment solutions. Thanks to many m-money platforms, the former is being solved rapidly. We are currently trying to solve the latter.
Who would you like to see answer these questions?
Madiba Olivier, Kiro'o Games
Amadou Daffe, Gebeya