EGD News #45 — InvestGame.net, startup trenches, and more

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This newsletter was sent out on September 4th 2020.

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It’s Joakim here. Greetings from Helsinki!

This week I’ve been obsessing about Readwise.io which is an awesome way to collect ideas from all over the place. But the cool thing about this app is the resurfacing of things I’ve collected. Kindle Highlights, Tweets, Instapaper highlights, what ever. It’s been one of the best learning tools that I’ve found recently, and it goes well with Roam 😀

On to this week’s news.

BTW: If you are enjoying this newsletter, feel free to spread it around and share it on social media.

🎮 InvestGame.net — Crunchbase for gaming

In August, Sergei Evdokimov and Anton Gorodetsky reached out to me for feedback on their new site called InvestGame.net, which felt like the Crunchbase that the games industry’s been lacking for so long.

The team at InvestGame covers funding rounds, mergers, acquisitions, IPOs, and all sorts of investments and transactions in the games industry.

Let’s break down the two most important sections of the site, deals, and investors, and how you should use these.

Deals

The investigate database of deals is unique, as it pulls together all the transactions in gaming from the last year. From the dropdown menu, you can select different periods of deals.

You can sort the table based on the different columns. For instance, sorting by country give you a read on what kind of deals are happening in your region.

Investors

This page shows the investors who are the most active in gaming. I’ve been checking back to the site every day, and they’ve been adding more investors to the list.

Finally, we have a public list of VC who are investing in gaming. I would want to see more information on what deals the VCs are involved in so that founders could spot what kind of companies these VCs are investing in.

I’ll keep an eye on the InvestGame.net site and provide you updates as more useful updates and features come up on the site.

😞 Hardship

Many founders live in hardship every day.

I often talk about the trenches of startups. You know that cash is running low, but you can’t face the fact that the business is going to die. The events that are causing you pain could end, but you can’t meet the end.

I faced near-death moments three times with my first startup, with the final one being the final blow.

Each time, it felt like I couldn’t go through this anymore. Not being able to pay people their salaries, and then getting the tax officials coming after me for not paying the taxes. To make matters worse, in Finland, you are commonly regarded in finance and banking as a shady, even dishonest person, if you’ve declared bankruptcy on your business.

I didn’t want all that, but that was what I got.

How I grew from these events

The trauma from a company failing is minimal, and many founders go on to found new companies. Here’s why:

  • There’s an incredible safety net for entrepreneurs in modern society
  • If you’re in gaming, you can always rely on a job in the industry
  • A few years later, you’ll have the strength to come back and do another startup.

I believe in sharing from experience. When I shut my first startup down in 2011, I wrote a blog post on how it felt to close down the company. As I left Next Games last year, I wrote a Medium post on leaving the company. I believe that the written word is an excellent way for the author to reflect and find meaning in their accomplishments.

Building something new

I spent time between my startups at Supercell. I don’t think anyone who tries to give a startup everything for years could immediately start another company. Working at Supercell was the perfect spot to learn more about the industry, reflect on how I made games in my startup, and see others making gaming up close.

When it’s time to start another company, you’ll be much more prepared and ready for it.

🤞 Later joiners

Often in gaming, it’s not the founders of the company who pull off the hit game.

A later joiner comes on board to build a new game with the battle-hardened team of co-founders.

I’ve seen it happen in many places. At Next Games, our first game, Compass Point: West, the founding team’s game, wasn’t the hit game we wanted. Later joiners came up with The Walking Dead games, and those took the company to success.

At Supercell, the founders built Gunshine, but Clash of Clans and Hay Day were created mostly by magical pairs of later joiners.

At Rovio, Angry Birds wasn’t a concept by the company’s founders, but later joiners worked together to come up with a new game that was native for the touch screen.

I think there are a few lessons here:

  • Keep your startup open for exploring new games, or new takes on games, ones that aren’t originating from what the founders dreamt off.
  • Build games companies that can facilitate the best systems which yield the best games. Don’t unnecessarily idolize founding ideas. It’s a dime a dozen.
  • Admit that you can’t tell if a game will be a hit before seeing a soft launch. As a founder, don’t spend 12 months raising and then 12 months developing your dream game.

📄 Ten questions to start angel investing in gaming

The games industry needs more angel investors — willing to back early-stage founders with small checks. I wrote this article to get you started., by asking ten questions about angel investing in gaming.

“Angel investing isn’t about getting rich quick. It’s about becoming involved with startups, it’s about developing and learning how ideas become amazing businesses. The curiosity to see something develop into reality and to see if customers want to use it; there’s nothing better.”

Read the full article here.

🎙 Jens Hilgers, BITKRAFT Ventures

Jens Hilgers is a Founder Partner at BITKRAFT Ventures, a VC firm focusing on early-stage investments for gaming, esports, and interactive media. We talk about entrepreneurship, fundraising, and how gaming and esports will evolve in the coming years.

“Entrepreneurs should understand VC investors as partners, as team members. You want to have the people that fit your culture, you want to have people that share your vision and the belief in what you’re building, that are aligned at all times with a vision, and that will happily be able to challenge you as well.”

Listen to the episode here.

📹 Webinar

On September 7th, I’m hosting Julia Palatovska, the Co-Founder and CEO of Dorian, and we will be talking about How To Raise A Seed Round From VCs In Gaming”.

Previously, Julia was an investor at London Venture Partners, and before LVP, Julia was Head of Biz Dev at G5 Games.

Just this week, Julia announced Dorian’s seed round of $3.35m. We’ll cover that round in much detail on the webinar. Sign up here for this free webinar.

🗓 Last week

If you missed out on the EGD news last week, I talked about the EGD Manifesto, and how I’m building a company to support the long-tail of gaming startups.

EGD News #44 — EGD’s Manifesto

📃 Articles worth reading

+ How can you find time to design? — This is an excellent article on managing work, especially as everyone’s working from home and not having regular commute times, regular lunch hours, or coffee breaks. “Your job isn’t just to make things. You need to gather the right amount of context to make those things, and you need to review those things with your peers, if you want to strive and make it better.”

+ How Sales Drop, and What You Can Do — “A recent study commissioned by Apple claims that the App Store was responsible for a whopping $519 billion in estimated total billings and sales of both physical products and services and digital goods in 2019. On the other hand, developers that use these very platforms as marketplaces for their games and apps seem progressively disgruntled by their sales performance. “

+ Huuuge Games confirms IPO plans — “‘We consider the public offer as one of our potential strategic options,’ Huuuge Chief Executive Anton Gauffin said in the company’s statement. The group said it generated revenue of around $260 million in 2019. It employs over 600 people in 12 offices around the world.”

+ Unity: Analysing the First Game Engine IPO — “Unity was founded in 2004 with its game engine offering. And like many modern day game engines, Unity’s engine brought together a suite of tools — such as rendering, lighting, physics, sound, artificial intelligence, animation and user interface — under one hood. Underlying these tools was a core vision of wanting to make game development faster and easier. Unity has pursued this vision over the last 16 years, which now results in a variety of products that can be broadly bifurcated into “Create” and “Operate” solutions.”


💬 Quote that I’m thinking about

“Pick business partners with high intelligence, energy, and, above all, integrity.” — Naval Ravikant


Sponsored by ironSource

We all know that developing a great game is one thing, but developing a great game business can be something else entirely. That’s why some of the top game developers in the industry use ironSource’s game growth platform, which takes care of both sides of the business, helping you monetize to fuel user acquisition, and vice versa.

From their ROAS Optimizer, the only product on the market built to optimize UA campaigns towards ROAS according to both IAP and ad revenue data, to LevelPlay, their in-app bidding solution, they offer everything you need to supercharge your growth. See for yourself at ironsrc.com


That’s it for this week. Stay safe and stay well!

Joakim

Previous EGD News

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