Sam Chandola works with First Fund, a pre-seed investment fund established by former founders who saw a gap in early-stage funding and decided to correct that.
We caught up with Chandola ahead of the event for his thoughts on investment and how the current pandemic has affected anyone seeking investment.
PocketGamer.biz: What’s the primary Investments focus of your company?
Sam Chandola: We promote the birth of new technology and gaming startups by investing the first $100,000 as early as the pitch-deck stage to get them off the ground. First Fund seeks to give promising entrepreneurs a shot at success in their startup ideas to allow them to get started on the journey, while offering access to a strategic network of resources and future funding partners. We are located in Vancouver, BC and invest around the world.
What kind of companies/projects are you interested in?
First Fund primarily seeks to invest at the pre-seed stage in technology and gaming startups from all over the world. We focus on viable business models with strong underlying unit economics. We understand the value that can be created by providing an initial runway to a good pitch deck, a strong founding team, and a well-thought-out plan. We invest in both companies developing and publishing games, as well as companies building game technology.
What are the key advantages for founders when they raise investment from your company?
We back our portfolio companies holistically beyond providing capital. Aside from regularly scheduled check-ins to discuss issues, provide strategic advice and discuss requirements, First Fund assists in facilitating future fund raising. We also offer lead generation and virtual assistant services and, for companies located in our hometown of Vancouver, we also provide access to discounted office space through our partnership with Startup Arena.
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?
Absolutely! For the right product and team, a solid pitch deck is enough for us to invest in the company. Yes, a pitch deck is the starting point for all conversations. Generally speaking, pitch decks can take any format, as long as they cover some essential points. We like to point to the Kawasaki 10/20/30 rule for what information one should include in a pitch deck.
What do you expect to learn from a founder at the first meeting?
We want to learn about the product and the people behind the product. We prefer startups with at least two co-founders, with one being a technical founder. Domain expertise, ambition and hustle are the qualities we look for when we meet founders for the first time.
Could you give any advice for developers or teams for pitching over video calls?
Run through a tech rehearsal: even if the video conference tool is something that’s been around a while and you’ve used before, there could still be surprise hitches, some to do with the tech and some caused by simple human error. Maybe Skype suddenly needs to know the Microsoft password that you haven’t had to input in 10 years. Maybe Google doesn’t recognise the professional email you set up just for work correspondence. Or maybe you’ve been sent a wrong link. Do a ‘tech rehearsal’ before the scheduled meeting and troubleshoot all of it.
How has the investment cycle changed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, typically, how long is it taking to close deals?
We actually launched as a fund right in the thick of COVID-19, so for us, there hasn’t been that much of a change. Once we have greenlit a project internally, we aim to close within two weeks.
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?
Competitive multi-player and hyper-casual games are two genres that exploded during the pandemic. Social features in games will continue to surge as more and more people look to games to socialise and interact with others in a world where regular interactions have been hampered due to Covid. Conversely, I see the uptick in hardware sales during lockdown normalising as the world comes out of the pandemic.
Want to meet Sam Chandola at Pocket Gamer Connects Digital #6?
You could meet Chandola and many more investors online next month by signing up for Investor Connector at Pocket Gamer Connects Digital #6. 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 Digital #6. Book your tickets now and you could save $220 with our Mid-Term offer.
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.