Meet Sami: Cloud Developer and Climbing Enthusiast

Written by
Valo Motion
July 9, 2024
# min read
Portrait of Sami Pekkola, Valo Motion's Cloud Developer and Climbing Enthusiast

At the heart of all our mixed-reality gaming products at Valo Motion, you'll find a team of dedicated professionals with unique skills. One such individual is Sami Pekkola, a Cloud Developer who has been with us since 2016. Sami's story started with his love for climbing – just like the founding story of Valo Motion. How did combining professional interest and personal passion work out for Sami? What is special about working as a Cloud Developer in our team and what keeps him motivated after all these years?

Joining the team early on

It all started when Sami Pekkola was visiting a boulder center back in 2015 when he saw ValoClimb for the first time and tested it. “I was so impressed with the product and almost could not believe my eyes. Was there really a product that combined climbing with this innovative mixed-reality technological solution?” Sami shares. 

Sami playing ValoClimb's speed climbing game, Flash

Back then Sami had been working with web development for a few years. He wasn’t really looking to change jobs but described the moment as being “too good to be true” and that he had to contact the team behind ValoClimb.

“I was so impressed with the product and almost could not believe my eyes. Was there really a product that combined climbing with this innovative mixed-reality technological solution?

Shortly after, Sami’s career at Valo Motion officially started in 2016 when we were still transforming from a research project at Aalto University to an actual company. "I joined as one of the first employees", Sami says. Joining an early-stage company isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It requires next-level trust in the founder and the vision. 

What made you say "yes" to the job offer back then?

“Firstly, it was the opportunity to combine climbing with this new technological innovation. Secondly, I found the project and business unique and an opportunity where I would get to grow professionally. And finally, the founding team and their vision impressed me. I shared the excitement of the mission to get people moving with the help of technology”, Sami says. 

Through the years, Sami has always been the only Cloud Developer on the team. "I have worn many hats and still do", he smiles and continues: "My primary responsibility is to develop and maintain an infrastructure that allows us and our customers to manage the attractions across thousands of installations worldwide."

But that's not all. Being one of the first employees, Sami goes on to explain an extensive list of all the things he has experienced over the years: "From assembling the first ValoClimbs and packing devices to installing them at customer locations and representing the company at trade shows."  It's sure that his comprehensive view of our operations has made him an invaluable member of the team!

Growing as a professional 

While the core of Sami’s role has remained the same, it has become more sophisticated over the years. His skills have grown as he’s learned more innovative techniques and tackled complex challenges.

"In this role, I get to twist my brain and think about things differently," Sami notes. "It keeps me alert and motivated year after year."

One of the most significant professional learnings for Sami has been understanding the scalability of systems. "It's easy to do something with a small amount of data. Now with customers in over 60 countries, we have enormous amounts of data, and I have learned quite a bit about scalability and architecture.”

On a personal note, he adds a steep learning curve, especially in resource management. “Balancing with multiple responsibilities has definitely taught me where to say no and where to ask for help or to delegate. Luckily today we have a big development team to help me out when in need”, he says. 

Building things that have never been built before

In the eight years that Sami has been with us, not only our team has grown but also our products and ways of working have evolved.  "Back then, everyone pitched in on development processes, especially concerning the Cloud. As we grew, we built much more structured processes and have got better in resource management", Sami explains.

Despite the growth and some growth pains, Sami says that a balance between "freedom, rules, and processes" has been maintained. "I really appreciate this as it allows more flexibility and innovation. It keeps my mind calm", he says.

Sami playing Skytails game of Sami playing Skytails on ValoJump, the mixed-reality trampoline gameValoJump
Sami jumping on clouds in the Skytails game of ValoJump!

What is that keeps you excited and motivated still after the years, Sami?

"Building things that have never been built before. Usually, when we do anything technical, the end result is always something new and innovative even though we would use familiar tools and procedures", he says.

"One of the most rewarding parts of my job is seeing how our technology impacts our customers.”

Looking back, Sami notes that he couldn't have imagined the scale at which we would grow. "One of the most rewarding parts of my job is seeing how our technology impacts our customers. Knowing that we’re creating something truly unique makes all the hard work worth it", he says.

3 things that motivate Sami 

#1 Shared innovative mindset with the team and professional growth

“I really enjoy the constant challenges and opportunities to learn new things every day,” Sami says and continues with a smile: "If there’s nothing to learn, it gets boring.”

In addition to Cloud development, Sami has gotten a glimpse into the game development. “It has been interesting that even though I’m not a game developer, I have been testing games quite a lot. I have been able to bring ideas or characters into the game”, he says. 

None of this could be possible without the shared innovative mindset. "You can freely use different technologies, approach new ideas without prejudice, and you don’t have to fear failures”, Sami says

Oystercatcher, a Toywatch game character of ValoJump with Sami's quote

#2 A team of empathetic, skilled, and fun-loving gaming professionals

The team at Valo Motion plays a significant role in Sami’s job satisfaction. He describes his colleagues as incredibly skilled professionals and wonderful individuals, creating a warm and empathetic work environment.

"I have been amazed by the wonderful personalities in our team. Talented people with whom it’s easy and pleasant to work with. There is something special about the vibe in our team”, Sami says. 

#3 Mission to get people moving around the world

"I am very motivated and inspired by what we do – getting people to move around the world through mixed-reality games and having fun. Climbing was a revolutionary thing in my life. I think that if I can enable even a few people to experience the same spark, it’s a rewarding thing”, he says.

Ready to join a team of curious and fun-loving tech and gaming industry experts? Dig deeper into the life at Valo Motion here!

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