It seems like every other day you hear news of a new accelerator opening it's doors, but a new gaming-focused accelerator out of Tallinn looks particularly interesting. GameFounders claims to be Europe's first gaming accelerator, and seeks to tap the knowledge of its 60+ mentors to help game-related companies build and monetize addictive games.
Finland's Startup Sauna accelerator as well as the San Francisco-based Gamedojos gaming accelerator are full partners in the program, giving the brand new accelerator slightly more weight. GameFounder is now accepting applications for it's first batch, and will provide each accepted company €10 - 15 000 per company for 9% equity.
Unlike 97% of other accelerators, GameFounders specializes“, explains Kadri Ugand, one of the co-founders. “By focusing on a niche we are able to offer more value in that niche than any unspecialized or general accelerator could.“
Roughly 10 startups will be selected, and applications are open until July 10th. The accelerator program is built in the Y Combinator/Techstars/Startup Sauna model where the accelerated teams will have three months to work on their product before a demo day. The GameFounders FAQ states that they understand that it can be difficult to explain game concepts on paper, but the application process goes through a number of levels also including a Skype interview, personal interview and evaluation panel.
On the knowledge side of things, GameFounders' team is composed of serial entrepreneurs in the gaming space, and have experience with running a game studio and investing into games. GameFounders also claims over 60 mentors, most of whom are from the U.S. and Finland. A few of which include Markus Pasula of Grand Cru, Jussi Laakkonen of Applifier, Dali Kilani from Zynga, among others. Paul Bragiel of I/O Ventures is also a co-founder of the accelerator, who many may have met when he visited Helsinki as part of Aaltoes' Founders' Week.
GameFounders is not limiting themselves to the narrowest definition of a game. The accelerator has also positioned themselves to take advantage of the gamificatoin trend that adds game-like hooks onto things to make services more addictive and fun to use. GameFounder co-founder Sven Illing points out the potential of the gamifying the fitness and educational sectors, giving Lumosity and Motion Math as examples.
"Gaming is rapidly moving from purely entertainment to other areas such as education, advertising, human interaction and healthcare", says another co-founder Lauri Antalainen.
But on the more traditional side of gaming, the accelerator doesn't limit themselves to only social games, or certain platforms. Having said that, the website also points out, "It is more likely at the moment for mobile games to get investments."
It makes good sense for the region to have an accelerator specifically for games considering the region's dominance in mobile gaming. While organizations like the IGDA chapters in each country are good at bringing the gaming community together, I think a strong focus on the business side of things for gaming startups can only be a benefit.
I've gotten the impression from several first-time game developers that they focus too much on the creative side of the process, while forgetting the business side of things almost completely until the product is nearly completed. Having a team of solid mentors pushing young gaming companies to demo day can only be a good thing for the region. We have a lot of talent up here, and we should invest it back into the community wisely.
The final selection will be announced at the beginning of August and the program starts in Tallinn at the beginning of September.