20-year old techie has identified a massively underserved category, say investors
Leveraging HTML5, Gamezop allows users to play new games each week on a single app; completely eradicates installation friction
Smartphone gaming platform Gamezop has closed $350K (Rs. 2.3 crores) in seed funding led by entertainment marketers Kwan. US-based Powerhouse Ventures, an existing investor in Gamezop, also participated. Others in the round include startup analytics firm Tracxn, Germany-based AECAL, and prolific angels Anand Chandrasekaran (Chief Product Officer, Snapdeal), Phanindra Sama (Founder, redBus), and Vinay Menon (MD, Equity Capital Markets, JP Morgan).
The Delhi-based company aggregates short and addictive games from around the world, which can be played on a single app and removes the friction of constantly installing and uninstalling individual games. Although Android only at this point, all of the hundreds of HTML5 games featured on the Gamezop app are device- and OS-agnostic and can be shared as weblinks for play on any smartphone, tablet, PC, or Smart TV. The company is building a product for global markets and is extending features to HTML5 game developers to get them on par with their native counterparts.
MD of Kwan, Anirban Das Blah, says that his company has been looking for innovative gaming models for a while. “Kwan is in the business of helping consumers find content and products that engage and entertain them. However, it amazed us that India didn’t have a compelling gaming product. Gamezop we felt had the potential to be a game changer for the gaming industry in India. It wasn’t enough to work with them; we wanted and needed to be a part of their journey in a more meaningful way. That’s why we have invested in Gamezop!”
20-year old CEO, Yashash Agarwal, who was invited for the Thiel Summit in Silicon Valley last year, has been in the gaming business for two years now. “Content-light platform plays have been most scalable in the digital consumption space. Popular forms of digital entertainment, such as music or videos, already have platforms that serve as one-stop destinations. However, in gaming one only hears of individual titles. We are building a platform to make gaming reach the inflection point that the others have already witnessed,” he said.
The numbers back Agarwal’s hypothesis: at 135% CAGR, India is one of the world’s fastest growing mobile gaming markets and is projected to grow to $600M by 2016. However, it can still be called ‘untapped’ by global standards. “The Chinese market at 15X our size is massive. Super casual HTML5 gaming within messenger apps has really picked up there. We are already working on exciting distribution alliances with HTML5 game publishers and will build an open platform to piggyback on existing networks.”
Sri Peddu, MD of Powerhouse Ventures, has appreciated the careful selection of the target audience. “India isn’t a mature gaming market and most are still non-gamers who haven’t used gaming consoles. Gamezop with its snackable games is a crisp offering and targets those who would use their smartphones as their first gaming device. It’s a segment that is poised to grow and the founders have the requisite product expertise.”
The startup secured angel funding as a part of the latest batch of tech accelerator GSF. Founder of GSF, Rajesh Sawhney, has backed the startup in personal capacity. “With gaming being an underserved category in this part of the world, these guys are after the right problem. Removing the download-deletion fatigue, providing offline access to online games, and bespoke game recommendations to cut clutter are huge value additions.”
The team plans to invest the funds in technology, distribution alliances, and talent. Gamezop is seven members strong at this point and has Yashash’s elder brother, Gaurav Agarwal, who worked at Bain & Company earlier, as co-founder. The two have been selected to represent India this April at the International Business Model Competition at Redmond, co-hosted by Microsoft, Harvard Business School, and Stanford Graduate School of Business. In May, they will travel to Silicon Valley for the global finals of the TiE International Startup Competition.
Upon being asked if being one of the youngest in the country to raise institutional funding was a challenge, Yashash praised the evolving Indian startup ecosystem that no longer demands several years of experience. “Our focus has been to build a robust product that addresses the genuine problems for users and HTML5 game developers alike. The early results are fabulous and we are glad to be backed by veterans who prioritized that over everything else.