U.K.-based serial gaming entrepreneur Tony Pearce has pulled in another tranche of early stage funding for gamesGRABR, his Pinterest style social network for gamers, bagging £450,000 ($665,000) in seed funding from ~220 investors in a second crowdfunding round, via Crowdcube.
The investment goes to TeePee Games, the startup he founded back in 2010 which owns and operates the gamesGRABR brand.
Its prior crowdfunding raise kicked off in fall 2013, and took in £175,000 (including some angel investment) to fund product development. The official beta launch for gamesGRABR was a year ago, in April 2014. It’s now getting “upwards of 100,000 unique users per month”, according to Pearce, with 50% returning month on month. He says the aim is to hit 1M monthly active users this year, and then raise a Series A round in 2016.
At present there’s a roughly 50:50 usage split between U.K. and the U.S.-based games fans. The primary target for the pinboard is Pinterest-refuseniks 16 to 34 year-old males, with no focus on any particular gaming genre — rather it caters to gamers of all stripes, with multiple genre categories users can choose to theme their collections with, or browse through.
Pearce won’t break out the gender split of the platform when I ask, noting only that: “Surprisingly we do get a lot of women joining gamesGRABR.” Surprising, presumably, given the business itself has chosen to target men. (Plenty of data points suggest plenty of women like and play games too.)
GamesGRABR’s pinboard lets games fans curate collections of games and other gaming related media and content — using a Pinterest style ‘GRAB’ button browser plug-in. They can also browse other users’ boards to find new games and game genre-specific content they’re interested in, plus engage with other games fans via the platform, and even play free games (or click to buy titles for other platforms).
At present the startup is monetizing via affiliate revenue, with Pearce noting they have deals with retailers including Apple, Amazon and Game, plus its own ecommerce service via partnerships with the likes of Sony Genba, Codemasters, Warner Brothers and Capcom — enabling it to offer games, special offers and discounts directly to users.
“Recently we have also started selling PC Steam games directly through our own e-commerce platform, which is growing quickly,” he adds.
It’s also building an ad exchange to create another revenue stream. That will combine advertisers’ data with its own to match ads to users, based on the detailed user profile data it’s capturing. Pearce notes that making wish list boards for games they want to buy is a popular pastime for gamesGRABR users. So the phrase ‘shooting fish in a barrel’ springs to mind here.
“Our aim is to break even in 2016 and we are well on our way to achieving this,” adds Pearce.
The latest raise for gamesGRABR closed more than 80% above the figure the team had been aiming for, and included new investor London Co-Investment Fund (LCIF), a government-backed fund, which chipped in £100,000 of the round.
The new funding will be used for marketing, which Pearce says have been minimal thus far, to help grow the user-base and scale the business, as well as for product development — including a new gamification system which will reward users when someone plays or buys a game from their collection — with the aim of making the platform more sticky.
Ultimately, gamesGRABR will morph into a broader kind of marketplace too. Targeting the second-hand games selling market by letting users sell games from their own collections is also on the cards, says Pearce. He adds that the funding will also be used to launch a native mobile app to extend gamesGRABR’s reach further.
On the user acquisition front, he further notes that some of the new funding will be spent on building more partnerships with YouTube vloggers — to tap into existing engaged communities of gaming fans as a tried and tested strategy to grow its own usage.
“This has been a successful route to gamers for us, so far we’ve partnered with YogcastKim, Caddicurus and GamesSprout, with over a million subscribers between them to promote their own Featured Collections within gamesGRABR and they bring a level of influence and reach unavailable via traditional routes,” he adds.