Lifeline Ventures, the Finnish early stage Vigo accelerator keeps on pumping deals through. This time they're announcing an investment into a completely new startup called Grand Cru. This is the investment we were speculating earlier this week in ArcticStartup based on their founder's, Petteri Koponen's, tweets. I got in touch with the founders of Grand Cru to dig a bit deeper. However, it was not an easy task. As I asked for screenshots on their development work, all they sent me was that guy in the picture. Either they're cooking something very wicked or they have a twisted understanding of the word humour.
The company is founded by six experienced gaming professionals. Five of the six founders fled the ashes of Mr. Goodliving that received the touch of death from its parent company Real sometime back (see our coverage on this). The sixth founder is from Sulake.
Markus Pasula, Harri Granholm, Mikko Lindstedt, Roope Kangas and Jarno Wuolijoki are from Mr. Goodliving and possess a wide area of expertise that could possibly hint at something they're developing.
Pasula was formerly part of the Mr. Goodliving management board and directed a team of 20 game developers. He currently works as the CEO and does game development as well. Granholm worked as the Lead Game Designer at Mr. Goodliving and has also in addition been contributing to a variety of different practices such as graphics and sound production.
Mikko Lindstedt worked as a Lead Game Programmer at Mr. Goodliving and has been developing many of the hit games at the company. Roope Kangas is in charge of server technologies while Jarno Wuolijoki was in charge of the game development platform, The Emerge, at Mr. Goodliving. The Emerge was used to create about 100 different games along the years.
The sixth founder, Mikko Wilkman, is the Lead Software Architect at Sulake and knows massive multiplayer games and virtual worlds and business models affiliated with these very well.
When I asked Markus Pasula what they're up to, I received the funny looking character in the e-mail together with the explanation;
We are about to make a free game that is actually social and fun. We hate how massively-single-player-games are referred as social.
In a follow-up question regarding the investment he answered:
"We are investing everything into game development, our penthouse office with sauna and fantastic view and grand cru champagne."
All in all, looks like Finland is cooking up yet another experienced gaming company that is onto something. In an interview with Kauppalehti earlier this week, Pasula stated that the company will be developing both computer and mobile games with a focus on the freemium business model. Furthermore, Grand Cru is a great example of creating something new when larger companies decide to get rid of their very experienced talent (in the case of Mr. Goodliving).