Through the funding calls StartHope and Smart&Start Italia, the Italian gaming company Mangatar begins a new growth phase with the goal to establish itself as a Publisher, valorising independent developers.
Fi.R.A. (Finanziaria Regionale Abruzzese) the financial holding company and Invitalia - the national Agency for inward investment promotion and enterprise development - invested together €1.1M in the gaming company Mangatar, through the funding calls StartHope and Smart&Start Italia. The latter takes the form of an incentive of the Ministry of Economic Development, managed by Invitalia, to promote the entrepreneurial culture linked to the digital economy.
By virtue of the financial operation made possible by the StartHope fund, specifically aimed at supporting innovative enterprises operating in the Abruzzo region through participation in venture capital, Fi.R.A. enters the company shareholding, joining the startup co-founders and Digital Investments S.C.A. SICAR., the investment vehicle advised by dPixel.
Rocco Micucci, the president Fi.R.A., said that several were the reasons why they chose to invest in Mangatar: a sector with great potential, a concrete business model, but also a dynamic team full of enthusiasm. As investors Fi.R.A. intends to contribute to the development of Mangatar, through the ability to create a new market starting right from Abruzzo. Mangatar has set up a new office dedicated to marketing and promotion in FIRA Station, a new acceleration and co-working space realized by Fi.R.A. and the Abruzzo region, in the heart of the city of Pescara, within the railway station.
Mangatar closed in recent years many (deserved) investment rounds, but this round of € 1.1M cannot be seen as a pure round.Indeed, in the official statements issued by Mangatar in certain passages it speaks of "financing". Financing is that of Smart&Start Italia, for example. That of Fi.R.A., instead, is an equity investment of €500k. And according to the option signed in the shareholders' agreement, in five years (or sooner if the company will be able to rapidly increase its business volume) it is foreseen the exit of the financial holding company of the Region Abruzzo from company shareholding of Mangatar and then startup members of the startup (or even third) will essentially buy back the shares from the exit tat the market value.
The funding received will be used by Mangatar for the corporate consolidation and company growth, and with the expansion of the team, which is already taking on new specialized profiles, both with the Smart Hub Publishing that foresees the creation of a structured network of teams and indie developers for casual and mid-core games on mobile platforms and connected TV.
CEO Andrea Postiglione reveals the strengths of the new path taken:
Mangatar is increasingly oriented to make the team play their trump card. We know the Italian market and we know that many products, though valuable, can not reach the market due to lack of vision and lack of experience. On these rough diamonds, we intend to invest time and resources to be a treasure trove of jewels. Rocco Micucci, President of Fi.R.A., believed in our project and are confident that together we will achieve something new in Italy.
Mangatar was born among the university benches back in 2001, where the 5 co-founders were studying at: they put online an avatar generator in manga style and a year after 8,000,000 avatars were created. Thus in March 2012, Andrea Postiglione, Raffaele Gaito, Enrico Rossomando, Alfredo Postiglione and Michele Criscuolo decided to found their own startup. With the release of the first title "Mangatar Saga", where players can create their own avatars by choosing the characteristics of their gender favorite manga, the startup aroused the interest of Gianluca Dettori and dPixel who invested €200k in the gaming company. Mangatar was born, a limited liability company with offices in Milan and Salerno. With these resources, the 5 co-founders learned how to do startups and threw the foundations of today's Mangatar.
A stop in Silicon Valley is a must for any self-respecting startup. So did also Postiglione, Gaito & Co., who went to San Francisco to attend the Startup School of Mind the Bridge, but with a round-trip ticket. Mangatar has the heart and the head in Salerno, and it is there that it wants to grow. Andrea has very clear ideas on this: "Has been since a while - it reveals - that I think it makes no sense to go all in Silicon Valley, nor do I believe that in Italy is useful to think of a similar model." And the model that Mangatar likes, needless to say, is glocal. "I'm sure - Postiglione says - that a company like ours should act in a global perspective and open up to collaborations with partners operating in the US as in Japan, taking the best of the Made in Italy."
Dengen Chronicles arrives
Another round another race. It all happens very quickly: the participation to the App Campus, the meeting with Nokia, Intel and especially Microsoft. Not only other investments will follow soon but mostly respectable numbers will arrive. A second title has been announced, Dengen Chronicles, a trading card game in which players can customize in great detail their cards and compete against each others.
Will be for the game's plot, which tells the story of four families gone to war with each other (ninja, fantasy, robots and school), will be for the attention to detail of the characters and features, the fact is that the new gaming startup from Salerno raged fans from the very first beta version and is now available in nine languages on all smartphone platforms with more than 500,000 active downloads. "These numbers have allowed us - remembers Andrea Postiglione - to test technical solutions, equilibrium in the game mechanics and marketing strategies with some success. Our users are overwhelmingly in the range between 28 and 35 years, with a prevalence of men. But not so strong as you might think for a card game in manga style. Besides the United States, Brazil and France that have always been the focus markets for us, we have seen an incredible growth of the Asian countries, China and Vietnam ahead of all.
A market worth 1.5 billion: the numbers of social gaming in Italy
With a turnover of more than 300 million monthly players, social gaming generates over 60% of revenues from the sale of virtual goods used in the game itself. In 2014 more than 4 billion dollars in virtual goods were sold, while for 2015 it is estimated that this figure will grow beyond $ 15 billion. Italy is the tenth country in the world by revenue from social gaming, with a turnover of $ 1.5 billion.
A videogames' software-house
In three years the team Mangatar almost doubled. It arrived at 9 including 4 co-founders. The company aims to reach a headcount of 10 or 11 by the end of the year with a couple of entries in the field of strategic marketing. Raffaele Gaito, Mangdatar'S CCO, in a recent interview for the web series of Rai "Startup in a day" has gone even a little further, revealing that the objective of Mangatar is to "quickly become a videogames' software-house, releasing every six months a new game, obviously for a mobile audience. "
The company goal is to have 10 new titles in portfolio in 2016, including those created entirely in-house and those built thanks to the job coaching and collaboration with other teams.
The StartHope fund takes holdings in the share capital of innovative small businesses. The new refinancing of €4M has led, to date, the overall endowment of the fund to approximately €18M. The shareholding of the Fund is a minority stake (not less than 15% and not more than 45%) for a maximum amount of EUR 800,000 or EUR 1.2 million for enterprises located in assisted areas.
Smart&Start Italia is a government-funded scheme that encourages new businesses in the digital economy and the development of results from the research system. Smart&Start Italia supports three main types of innovative start-up:
- those that have a high-tech, innovative business idea
- those that develop products, services or solutions in the digital economy
- those that exploit commercial opportunities resulting from research
The support consists of an interest-free loan to cover capital investment and operating costs related to starting the business. Start-ups based in Southern Italy or in the areas affected by the L'Aquila earthquake can also take advantage of a grant.
Very new start-ups, set up in the last 12 months, are supportetd with technical and managerial mentoring.