Sweden’s Behold Ventures raises $25.9 million to invest in Nordic gaming startups

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Behold Ventures has raised $25.9 million to create a new gaming venture capital fund focused on financing Nordic gaming startups.

Behold Ventures is a new venture fund that focuses entirely on investments in gaming startups, primarily in the fast-growing Nordic industry group in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland.

The fund is Sweden’s largest gaming-focused fund, said Karl Magnus Troedsson, co-founder of the diversion, in an interview with GamesBeat. Troedsson, a veteran of Electronic Arts’ DICE studio, started the fund last year with Sigurlina Ingvarsdottir (CCP, EA/DICE) and Magnus Kenneby (Sequent).

It is a kind of micro-fund operated by industry specialists.

“We are a small venture capital fund and we are passionate about our small sector,” Troedsson said. “We believe that we can do better than many others in picking winners within this sector. We can also do better than others by helping our portfolio companies create value and help them grow into great companies. And if we get this right, we’ll not only help usher in a new generation of game developers, but we’ll also do great business for ourselves and our limited partners in the background.”

Behold Ventures was established to target only early-stage investments in video game startups, primarily in the Nordic markets. The strategy is to use the long experience of the founders and the gaming industry network to successfully find and invest in startups, help create and accelerate value creation, and deliver significant long-term returns.

Unique knowledge bank

Behold Ventures has already invested in 12 game startups.

In addition to the founders’ own expertise, the fund relies on an extensive network of carefully selected experts and advisors from the Nordic gaming industry, who form the basis of a uniquely composed bank of expertise. It also has more experience among its limited partners.

“I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that 99% of the capital (invested in us) is strategic money: companies, veterans and industry experts,” he said.

The intent is to allow portfolio companies access to specialists in all areas of the industry, such as production, marketing and business development.

Troedsson said the fund will try to create conditions for the founders to build game studios and launch games with great potential on the global market. A game development veteran who is part of the expert network and who actively assists the fund’s portfolio companies is Martin Walfisz, the founder of Massive Entertainment.

“The exceptionally successful Nordic gaming industry is more relevant than ever in a global marketplace, and it is clear that an ever-growing global audience sees video games as the most rewarding form of entertainment,” said Troedsson. “We believe that great value can be found in the sector by investors who really understand the gaming industry and can help entrepreneurs build long-lasting and highly successful companies.”

A strong Swedish gaming industry

EA has finally shipped their Battlefield Season 1 DLC Zero Hour.
EA Battlefield Season 1 DLC Zero Hour.

It makes sense that the fund would be based in Sweden, as opposed to Finland. Thanks to successes like Rovio and Supercell, Finland has no shortage of venture capitalists to finance its start-ups. But Sweden have had fewer great successes despite having plenty of gaming talent. The company will look at everything from free games to PC, console, and mobile.

In its most recent 2022 report, the Swedish Gaming Ecosystem Report said that the local video game industry has grown by 1,348 employees to a total of 7,944 employees in Sweden, an increase of 20%. For the first time in history, Swedish gaming companies have a higher turnover through their foreign subsidiaries than in the domestic industry. In 2021, sales of Swedish companies from foreign affiliates amounted to $3 billion, compared to sales of $2.6 billion for Swedish companies. These numbers also mean that Swedish-developed video games now account for 4.1% of Sweden’s total service exports.

Troedsson said that the Swedish gaming industry has been very successful. But he points out that it could be even more successful with more financial assistance.

“The three founders of Behold have come together because we share this conviction, we know that together we can act as catalysts and thereby achieve great results. We have worked successfully in the video game industry throughout our careers and we know what it takes to create games that become global hits,” said Troedsson. “We also have a world-class network made up of highly experienced and dedicated experts who are deeply embedded in the Nordic gaming ecosystem and beyond. In addition, we have a large group of strategic investors who have contributed to the fund and will be long-term assets to our companies. Together with all of our partners, it provides our portfolio companies with an excellent opportunity to grow successfully.”

Behold Venture’s goal is to close the fund at twice the size it is now, while also opening the fund up to more traditional investors. So far, Behold has twelve portfolio companies and will continue to invest at a high rate in the coming years.

LEAVING DICE

Bad Company.

Troedsson left DICE, the EA-owned studio that creates Battlefield and Star Wars titles, in 2016 after 15 years with the studio. He later joined Raw Fury, a publisher of titles like Kingdom and Kathy Rain. At the time, he said that he wanted to spend his time helping small developers realize their dreams and make sure innovative games succeed. He also started doing angel investing.

“The main reason for that was that I wanted to go back to my roots by supporting the teams,” Troedsson told me in our recent interview. “I had something I was passionate about, and then [angel investing] It made sense. After doing that for five years, she had a clear vision that something was missing in the Swedish market. And that’s basically an early-stage venture capital fund.”

The idea was to build a bridge between angel funds and funding from large venture capitalists or publishers.

“What was missing was the support that these teams needed,” he said. “We put together a good group of people, the founding partners with similar backgrounds.”

Of the trio, Kenneby has managed funds and startups before. Ingvarsdottir worked at EA and DICE on games like Star Wars: Battlefront, Mirror’s Edge, and FIFA. He is the network of advisers and experts helping.

“The reason for doing this is that we can help the teams and therefore create value for both the companies and our limited partners in the fund,” Troedsson said. “The secondary goal, this is quite personal to me, is that I am passionate about finding all the ways I can to help a new generation or better yet several new generations of game developers in the Nordic countries succeed. I am very grateful for the career that I have had in the industry. And I know there are a lot of people (who feel the same way), who want to be a part of helping a new generation.”

Swedish Games in 2017

Troedsson said he expects investment per startup to be around $516,000 to $1.033 million. With follow-up funding in later rounds, the amount could increase to $3 million. Troedsson believes that around 75% of the fund’s investments will be in game developers.

“We are all computer game nerds. Within that slice of the industry, we mainly look at the big game developers. But we are also interested in publishers as an example, ”he said. “We also do a little bit on the tools, technology and infrastructure side.”

One of the investments is Sunscorched Studios in the UK. He has a distributed freelance team creating high production values ​​on a shoestring budget thus far. Another is Sweden’s Lurkit, which wants to change the way developers and publishers do influencer direct marketing with a new platform. Another investment is Sweden’s Spellscaper, a small company that creates generative AI technology for games.

Troedsson believes that multiplayer games are doing particularly well right now, and the company will consider such investments. And he pointed out that user-generated content platform like Roblox is taking off.

“Many companies are realizing that the idea of ​​a game can be more than just a game,” he said.

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