Sebastiaan Debrouwere works as an investor at Balderton Capital, a London-based venture firm. Before joining Balderton, he was an early employee at European micro-mobility startup Circ, where he set up the global supply chain and helped drive its acquisition by Bird. He started his career at McKinsey & Co., working primarily on growth strategy and restructuring in a variety of sectors.
Before the event takes place next week, we caught up with Debrouwere for his thoughts on investment and how the current pandemic has affected getting funding.
PocketGamer.biz: Tell us a bit about your company and its primary investment focus?
Sebastiaan Debrouwere: We're a London-based venture firm focused exclusively on backing the best European-founded technology companies. In the two decades since our founding, we have worked with hundreds of extraordinary European founders and have raised eight funds totalling more than $3bn.
What kind of companies/projects are you interested in?
Broadly, I'm interested in consumer products that bring real joy or utility and have the potential to grow very quickly. Within gaming, I love strong creative teams and innovative gameplay.
What are the key advantages for founders when they raise investment from your company?
We've got a long and proud tradition of investing in gaming and creative entertainment. We've had the privilege to be part of the journey at great companies like Big Fish Games, Dream Games, Mojiworks, NaturalMotion and Codemasters. On top of this passion for gaming, we also strive to be true partners with you as you grow your business - helping meaningfully at key 'moments of truth' in your growth trajectory.
Do applicants 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?
You don't need a pitch deck, but it's always really great to share information that helps us prepare and think through things. Examples of this could be a demo, information on early social traction/adoption, etc.
What do you expect to learn from a founder at the first meeting?
As much as possible. Great first meetings are usually the ones where both the founder and the investor feel like we've learned a lot about each other as people, what drives us, what the vision of the company is and so on.
Could you give any advice for developers or teams for pitching over video calls?
Don't stress about it - we're all used to it by now (or at least I am; I became a VC in the middle of covid). Most importantly, feel comfortable with your pitch, make sure all the logistics are in place (light/internet/etc) and do some research on the fund if you can.
How has the investment cycle changed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic? Typically, how long is it taking to close deals?
I started as an investor in April 2020, so it's a bit difficult to comment. For great companies, investment deals can be done in a week or two. In our process at Balderton, this usually includes meeting a few of us on the investment team and presenting during our investment meeting, after which we issue a fair term sheet and get working together as soon as possible.
What trends do you see emerging in games over the pandemic that are likely to persist post-pandemic? Conversely, what trends do you think are short term?
Firstly I'm seeing a huge trend in gamification in all kinds of areas that are not gaming (e-commerce, B2B shopping, etc.), which can only be a good thing. Within gaming, I think we've seen an increasing share of 'new' gamers outside of the traditional demographic; a further proliferation of the social element to gaming (in and outside of gameplay). I'm also really excited about the increased advances in AdTech for gaming - this will hugely help developers with early monetisation and revolutionise the advertising industry alike.
Want to meet Sebastiaan Debrouwere at Pocket Gamer Connects Digital #5?
You could meet Debrouwere and many more investors online next month by signing up for Investor Connector at Pocket Gamer Connects Digital #5. So if you’re seeking funding, sign up here. Applications close this Wednesday, February 3rd.
Please note you can only sign up for the Investor Connector if you’re a registered attendee of Pocket Gamer Connects Digital #5. Book your tickets now.
We’re also allocating a limited amount of free passes solely for small indie developers, enabling them to meet investors and publishers, and learn from the industry’s biggest names. If you think you qualify, sign up here.