Games Invest's Jamie Sefton
The organiser on this year's event and what investors look for in a pitch
Taking place on the first day of the Eurogamer Expo and in association with GamesIndustry.biz, Games Invest 2011 is an opportunity for small and medium-sized companies to find more about public and private funding and to meet the investment community and in some cases pitch directly too it. Here, we speak to organiser Jamie Sefton about this year's event, what investors are looking for in a pitch and how the two communities are learning and understanding each other.
It's the second year that we've ran Games Invest and this year it's a GamesIndustry.biz and Eurogamer.net event. It's similar to last year, we're getting games companies and technology companies together with investors with the hope that some of those companies will receive investment. From last year's event we know that one of the investors - Tenshi Ventures - made an offer to one of the companies they met last year, and all the investors were impressed by the quality of the pitching. And vice-versa - the game companies really got a lot out of it as well. James Brooksby [Doublesix] was saying it's exactly what developers need, they need to be able to talk to investors. We've got a great line-up of investors this year and that means financiers - so it can be venture capitalists, angels, we're looking at broadcasters and trusts and anyone that funds games.
As this event is very much about investors informing games companies about what they look for - a great team, a good track record - we almost need an event that's the reverse of this, to have the games industry talking to investors and telling them how great our industry is, what the opportunities in the industry are for investment. Although the numbers of investors in the games business are growing, and that's great, I often come across some that don't understand the games industry and are a bit suspicious of it, they've heard bad reports or they basically don't have any knowledge of it. They think investment in games is Second Life, they have a very narrow view. We almost need to do a reverse event where we invite investors along and educate them. It's getting better, and hopefully with an event like GamesInvest we narrow that gap more and have speakers like London Venture Partners that can inform companies and allow them to make good decisions that will hopefully help them get investment.
We almost need to do a reverse event where we invite investors along and educate them.
We had some fantastic investors but a lot of the games companies asked for us to get a wider range of investors. So we had a lot of VCs last year, which is great, but what we've tried to do this year is have a wider range of games financiers. So we've got We R Interactive and they're onboard as an investor and that's very interesting because they are a developer and publisher, they develop a football game called I Am Player. But they have great financial backing and they are looking to work with other games company partners. You wouldn't look at them as a traditional investor in games but here they are, and that's something that games companies were looking for from last year.
As far as everything else, it's going to be exactly the same, companies really like that we have a meeting application form and service where they can apply to investors on the day for formal meetings. We try to keep the form reasonably simple and it allows investors to pick and choose who they would like to meet on the day. Last year there were more than 30 meetings and there were only a few companies that didn't get a meeting on the day but they set up meetings after the event, so it was still a positive experience.
The pitches are coming in by the day, I've taken some this morning, and we're getting more and more. And it's great to see the different types of pitches that come in. Some are pitching a whole company, others are pitching technology that's around the games industry such as online billing, some are pitching one off projects - so there's a real range. That's what we wanted. In the games industry project investment is important but investors don't particularly like that, particularly venture capitalists. That's why it's good we have both project and equity investment as part of the deal.
We were looking at Games Invest as attracting SME companies and it does range from individuals in bedrooms working away on iOS games to quite large companies. Last year we had some well known indie devs, and there are technology companies and people who are perhaps not even involved in publishing games but are doing things outside involved in other spheres such as TV and film and online. It's a real range of companies. What's interesting is that they are some very interesting projects and investors like that mix of pitches that aren't just games, it's not just projects, it's real range of companies.