Ian Baverstock and Jonathan Newth have been in the business of games for a long time - and are best-known for founding Kuju Entertainment. They recently left full-time employment with the company at the same time new CEO Nigel Robbins took the helm.
This morning GamesIndustry.biz was able to announce their new business - Tenshi Ventures - and to mark the occasion we had a quick chat with Ian about what the company was setting out to do.
Q: First of all, why the decision to go into investment and consultancy?
Ian Baverstock: Well, we want to bring our experience to bear working with new start-ups in digital media and games. The best way we can offer a real lift to these very early stage companies is by applying the lessons we've learnt over two decades of building and financing companies - in the creative industries through consultancy as well as, potentially, some investment.
We certainly aren't expecting to be un-involved investors! There are also a lot interesting consultancy projects out there which don't need investment but which would benefit from the sort of huge depth of experience we can bring to bear.
Q: And will you be continuing as consultants for Kuju?
Ian Baverstock: Definitely. We have been working on some medium and long terms strategic projects for them since Nigel joined. Kuju is a company we care a lot about so we'll be helping out where ever we can.
Both Jonathan and I are non-executive directors too and I'm sure that'll continue for a long time.
Q: Does this mean you'll be investing your own money, or simply connecting other investors with companies?
Ian Baverstock: Generally the plan is to help companies to grow and reach their potential. Whether that's consultancy, some cash or help to raise a larger investment will depend on the company, but even going through the process of raising third party investment will often require support over and above the management time and cash available to a business.
We're expecting a high proportion of our investments to be to help a businesses raise further funds.
Q: How do you feel the business environment has changed in the past ten years?
Ian Baverstock: Like a rollercoaster!
Q: Okay - so which sorts of businesses do you think are most attractive to investors at the moment?
Ian Baverstock: For a long time investors in games development were really focused on MMO and pure play technology companies. However the success of Playfish and the wider casual/social media space has made some investors sit up and look again at the games industry.
It's not going to be easy for any new venture to raise funds in the near term, but a good concept with a rounded management team and a clear financial model will always find investment. I think it's fair to say that anything that attracts investment at the moment in games will probably have a strong online/social network element to it.
Q: On the games business in general, do you expect to see the rest of 2010 to yield more positive business stories? We've been through a tough period, but most people have been looking to this year for a return to form.
Ian Baverstock: I think 2010 is going to continue to be difficult for the console games industry but I expect to see really strong hardware sales over the holidays which should set things up for a better 2011, especially if Move and Natal can motivate a new round of consumer spending.
I think there have been a lot of positive business vibes about games on social networks, phones, tablets and online this year and I only see that getting louder.
Q: And finally - where did the name "Tenshi" come from?
Ian Baverstock: Jonathan and I are continuing with our Japanese themed company names... the last one seemed to work out well. It means "angel" in Japanese.
Ian Baverstock is co-founder of Tenshi Ventures. Interview by Phil Elliott.