LEGO Ventures is the venture capital arm of the LEGO® brand, focusing on the future of learning, creativity, and play.
Before the event takes place, we caught up with Morten, Charles and Parin, who represent the EMEA investment team for LEGO Ventures, for their thoughts on investment and how the current pandemic has affected getting funding.
What’s the primary Investments focus of your company?
At LEGO Ventures, we focus on investments that align with the core philosophy of the LEGO Brand around Learning Through Play and Systematic Creativity. Our primary areas of focus are within education and gaming.
What are the key advantages for founders when they raise investment from your company?
LEGO Ventures invest in areas where we and the existing LEGO branded entities have extremely deep expertise. We leverage expertise on customers, markets and products to understand and support our portfolio companies with deep industry specific knowledge and insights.
What kind of companies/projects are you interested in?
Covid-19 has provided an opportunity for many more people to engage with gaming and we think many would like the diversity of gaming experiences out there
We invest globally, with teams in San Francisco, London and Shanghai. We invest in equity rounds, primarily in the seed to series C range. Within gaming, we focus on game developers and studios with the ambition to scale and expand their own production and IP. We get really excited about new games that actively develop the players’ 21st Century Skills such as creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication.
We believe that games are uniquely positioned to unlock these skills and that games that manage to challenge the players on these skills also become the most engaging and popular experiences and platforms.
What do you look for in a founder, or founding team?
We recognize the huge diversity among founders and what makes each one uniquely positioned to succeed. That being said, we want to see a founding team with a clear vision for the end product and a unique insight into the target market.
On the execution side, we need to build conviction that the team can execute with pace and quality, have a strong understanding of the core metrics driving their business, and last but not least, their ability to build a strong and motivated team around them.
Did your investment activity or focus change because of Covid-19 pandemic? If yes how?
We’ve used the uncertainty that Covid-19 brought to double down on the underpinnings of our games thesis in collaboration with our internal LEGO Games team, in order to better assess the nutrition level of gameplay experiences that we find out there. We’re also planning for the pace of our investing to pick up from Q4 ’20 onwards as both our focus sectors appear to have weathered the Covid-19 storm very well.
Do you need a pitch deck, and if so, what information should a founder be sure to include to interest you enough to want to know more and have a meeting?
It depends a little bit on the stage of the company, but strong pitch decks speak to the core elements mentioned above. A clear and concise thread through market opportunity, product vision, team capabilities to financial and user metrics will get you a long way.
Within gaming, we especially like to see both the vision for any specific IPs and titles, as well as for the building and scaling of the studio itself. We accept funding applications directly on our website (www.legoventures.com) via a Typeform, where teams can upload their pitch deck and further information on the company.
What do you expect to learn from a founder at the first meeting?
Our advice would be to find a way of injecting some fun into the pitch and inspiring a connection, be it through video, live gameplay, or otherwise
We look for answers to a few questions: What is the burning passion that has driven you to build the experience you’re building now? What is new about the product, and why has no one attempted it to date? How does your vision align with the way in which the broader gaming ecosystem is developing?
A founder is someone who can paint a vision and convince people to come along the journey with them, so we’re looking for how founders attempt to translate the passion they have into action, and why the time is right for their unique take on gaming.
Could you give any advice for developers or teams for pitching over video calls?
With numerous stories out there about ‘Zoom fatigue’, we’re all aware that although Zoom is a robust workhorse, it can lack some of the fun and connection of in-person meetings.
Our advice would be to find a way of injecting some fun into the pitch and inspiring a connection, be it through video, live gameplay, or otherwise. And on the more basic end of things - try and make sure your wi-fi signal isn’t so terrible it disrupts the meeting!
How has the investment cycle changed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, typically, how long is it taking to close deals?
Each fund is unique in the amount of due diligence required in order to close a deal, with varying stages requiring different levels of input. That said, most VC funds are used to having team members on the road quite frequently, therefore we don’t anticipate any delays beyond the normal timeframe to be quite minimal in nature.
Has the pandemic changed your outlook for the future in the longer term?
Our outlook remains extremely positive for independent game developers and publishers. We’ve seen that the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital play and the appreciation of deep social interactions online.
As an example, we’re noticing that for the younger demographic, parents have become more involved in their kids’ gaming experiences. It is clear that this deeper understanding shows how gaming can be a serious, nutritious and deeply social experience, leading to higher appreciation.
Covid-19 has provided an opportunity for many more people to engage with gaming and we think many would like the diversity of gaming experiences out there.
Want to meet LEGO Ventures at Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki Digital 2020?
You could meet LEGO Ventures and many more investors online next month by signing up for Investor Connector at Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki Digital 2020. So if you’re seeking funding, sign up here.
Please note: you can only sign up for the Investor Connector if you’re a registered attendee of Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki Digital 2020. Book your tickets now.
We’re also allocating a limited amount of free passes solely for small indie developers, enabling them to meet with investors and publishers, and learn from the industry’s biggest names. If you think you qualify, sign up here.