Samuel Costello is an associate at Hiro Capital, a company focused on games investment (both technology companies and studios), esports and digital sports.
Before the event takes place next week, we caught up with Costello for his thoughts on investment and how the current pandemic has affected getting funding.
PocketGamer.biz: What kind of companies/projects are you interested in?
Samuel Costello: We're focused on later stage companies typically. We think there is a funding gap for European companies that are trying to raise their Series A and B rounds and so we want to bring capital to companies that are really looking to scale up.
What are the key advantages for founders when they raise investment from your company?
As a fund, we're really product and games focused. We play a lot of games (in and out of work), this gives us a much better sense of what is happening in the games market today, not just in an abstract sense, but in a really pragmatic way that's reflected in how we work with games studios. The partners at the fund are all entrepreneurs and have gone through the journey of taking a start-up through venture funding and all the way to Nasdaq or LSE, so we are familiar with the journey that founders are on.
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?
It's always useful to have; not a must, but when you look at a lot of companies each day it helps give a much better sense of what a company is doing as opposed to reading a very long email. I think putting an emphasis on your product is key in a pitch deck; what have you done so far, what are you building now and what do you want to build next?
What do you expect to learn from a founder at the first meeting?
Of course we want to learn about their experience and where they have been before, but again more than anything we want to learn about the product they are building.
Could you give any advice for developers or teams for pitching over video calls?
Make sure you have a great microphone and webcam.
How has the investment cycle changed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic? Typically, how long is it taking to close deals?
For games, I don't think it's really changed that drastically; you meet the team (just over Zoom this time), you play the game, you get into the slow legal bit. We don't think remote will ever beat the real thing but we haven't found it slowing deals down too much.
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?
I think cross-platform play has really had its moment during the pandemic. The games industry has seen record numbers across the pandemic and a lot of those players wouldn't have played before they were stuck indoors. Many of the players that started playing during the pandemic wouldn't have played if there weren't these great social gaming experiences that they could join in on from their phones or laptops and didn't require specialised hardware to play on. Regarding short term trends, it's much harder to say, as I'm not sure how many there are. In our view, the pandemic has accelerated already existing trends in gaming (cross-platform, games as a social space, esports taking over regular sports).
Want to meet Samuel Costello at Pocket Gamer Connects Digital #5? ACT NOW!
You could meet Costello 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 TODAY (Wednesday, February 3rd).
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