Ravensburger had surprised with a deal last week: The publisher took a share of four million euros in the crowdfunding platform Gamefound. According to Ravensburger, however, it should not stop with purely financial support: They also want to work with the Polish start-up “in terms of content and strategy”.
Ravensburger is investing four million euros in the Polish start-up Gamefound. The international crowdfunding platform for board games is thus the first start-up company in which Ravensburger is investing as part of its new innovation and investment program "Next Ventures". Toys with the blue triangle are sold worldwide. In addition, the international brands BRIO and ThinkFun expand the range of the group of companies. Ever since it was founded in 1883, Ravensburger has been a family business, characterized by tradition and values that have evolved over time. In 2021, 2.413 employees generated sales of 636 million euros. Ravensburger has its own plants in Ravensburg and Polička, Czech Republic.
Decision within the framework of an investment program
"With Gamefound we are investing in a strong founding team with industry know-how, a start-up with a great deal of potential in our core segment of board games," says Thomas Bleyer, Group Director Corporate Development & New Business at Ravensburger AG, who launched the "Ravensburger Next Ventures” program.
Gamefound was founded in 2019 as a spin-off of the successful board game publisher and crowdfunding expert Awaken Realms. Gamefound offers board game developers special services to interact with their community and successfully implement board game ideas. Gamefound started a beta phase in 2021 and has already implemented more than 30 campaigns, raising a total of over $22 million. With the Ravensburger investment, the platform will be opened up to all interested parties worldwide.
Ravensburger will also work together with Gamefound in terms of content and strategy in order to successfully establish the platform in the market. "As a leading international game publisher, we can support Gamefound with more than just the financial investment and that's what Next Ventures is all about," says Thomas Bleyer.
Ravensburger only officially announced the innovation program, as part of which the deal with Gamefound was concluded, at the beginning of the month. Ravensburger wants to invest in up to four projects every year, for which the publisher is providing a "double-digit million amount". The "Next Ventures" program is part of the corporate strategy of the Ravensburger Group - the aim is to grow through innovation and international orientation.
According to the company, the aim of "Next Ventures" is to work with start-up teams to successfully bring new product ideas and services to the market that fit the Ravensburger business areas. "We are looking for promising start-ups that impress us with their entrepreneurial spirit and creativity," says Thomas Bleyer, Group Director Corporate Development & New Business at Ravensburger AG, who is responsible for the program. This can be on a product basis, in the business model, as well as on the material or sales side. Interested start-ups can proactively contact Ravensburger.
Ravensburger also makes it clear: "Next Ventures" should go far beyond pure financial investments. With the business-building approach, the know-how and network of the Ravensburger Group is used specifically for the success of the start-ups. In addition, the company's internal innovation management is being expanded as part of "Next Ventures". The group of companies wants to continue the series of successful in-house developments such as tiptoi and Gravitrax. Ravensburger had previously made individual investments in start-ups such as Wonderbly or Lingokids. In 2017, approximately $8,5 million went to Wonderbly, a publisher of personalized children's books, as part of a Series B funding round. According to the Stuttgarter Zeitung, Ravensburger is said to have invested three million of this sum.
"Next Ventures" is now a longer-term program aimed at early-stage start-ups or founding teams in the fields of toys, children's books, edutainment and additional offers for families with younger children. It takes into account different business models and both haptic and digital products and services.
Basically, the investment in a crowdfunding platform for Ravensburger is surprising in terms of content, as the publisher has not been particularly active in this segment up to now. Strategically, things look different: Ravensburger have identified a new future market for themselves - most recently, with the implementation of the German version of Calico, they had shown that board games previously financed through crowdfunding can definitely fit Ravensburger's portfolio. How exactly the announced content and strategic support of Gamefound will ultimately look like is so far uncertain - Ravensburger now has a foot in the door of the crowdfunding segment. However, given the increasing supply on Awaken Realm's crowdfunding platform, the investment comes at the right time.
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