Led by Jens Hilgers, BITKRAFT Esports Ventures, an early stage investor and incubator exclusively focused on esports, has launched the world’s first esports specific fund.
The group is based in Berlin and Los Angeles, two of the key cities in Western European esports, and will invest in esports focused startups alongside a group of companies and executives from the wider industry. In its first closing BITKRAFT raised €18m (£15.1m) and with a target final close of €30m (£25.3m), it will invest between €100,000 to €400,000 (£84,000 to £337,000) in each startup.
Joining Jens Hilgers in the founding team are Markus Fuhrmann, Co-Founder of Delivery Hero, and Minard Hamilton, who has held positions at EA Mobile/JAMDAT, ESPN and Activision. Others involved are the likes of the aXiomatic Group (who own a majority stake in Team Liquid), the Segerstrale Family Trust, Rick Thompson, MTG and more.
BITKRAFT has been actively investing in the space since March 2016 and there are ten companies in its investment portfolio to date. These are spread across Europe, Asia and the USA. It includes companies such as DOJO Madness, a firm which itself recently raised $6m (£4.6m) in Series A funding and acquired LeagueCoaching.gg. BITKRAFT and DOJO share a building in Berlin with the likes of TEO, G2 Esports and Runtime. The BITKRAFT group has stated that it plans to add four more startups to its portfolio in 2017.
The fund’s limited partners include several leading investors and entrepreneurs in the world of sports, entertainment, and gaming including Sumit Gupta, Fabrice Grinda, Hany Nada, Rick Thompson, MTG, Segerstrale Family Trust, aXiomatic Group, Bertelsmann’s BDMI, Inner Circle Sports LLC, among others.
Jens Hilgers, BITKRAFT Founding Partner commented: “Esports happens at the intersection of video games and sports, where new opportunities and excitement exists. This fund is the culmination of building and scaling esports and creating outstanding services and products that increase enjoyment for both players and fans. This fund is also about living my passion and creating a platform to support those who share this dream and have the drive to create intrinsic value in esports.
“Everyone involved in BITKRAFT has had outstanding entrepreneurial success in esports or closely related industries. I am very excited about the talent that our group brings to the table for the startups and entrepreneurs we support.”
“Esports is rapidly becoming a key pillar of the gaming industry and a form of mainstream entertainment in its own right, across all gaming platforms, from mobile to PC. However, the esports ecosystem is still very young. With its seasoned investment team who bring a mix of expertise across technology, media, and games, as well as deepest possible esports experience, BITKRAFT is incredibly well positioned as an accelerator and fund to support this rapidly emerging ecosystem,” commented Kristian Segerstrale, CEO at Super Evil Megacorp, the developer behind Vainglory.
On the topic of Vainglory, Esports Insider will have a short series of features with Super Evil and some of the top teams and players leading up to the Spring Championship in London in May. This series will kick off next week.
Esports Insider says: This is exceptionally exciting for esports start-ups which will now have a funding opportunity with people involved who understand the ecosystem and what it’s all about. In terms of the details behind what they want in return for an investment we are of course in the dark, but with the likes of Kristian Segerstrale, Hilgers and co on board it’s a formidable team of esports dragons to have in your corner.