A Milestone Month For Moonfire

Catch up on our November 2020 edition of the Moonfire newsletter for all the latest in venture capital in Europe.

A Milestone Month For Moonfire
Photo by Thomas Galler / Unsplash

Another milestone reached for Moonfire with the launch of our new website with a fresh look and feel.

We hope you like it and would appreciate any feedback you have.

It has been another busy month with no slowing down of activity. Please read on!

Hello Skunkworks

Welcome to Skunkworks, a new mobile game company located in Helsinki, Finland. Their goal is to reach, understand and engage underserved audiences, and to create the games they really want. The company was founded in December 2019 and the team of six is led by CEO James Cramer. It launched its first game in mid-2020 and is already working on its second game MergeFriends, which was developed and released to soft launch markets within eight weeks. MergeFriends is a simple 2D puzzle game, with city building elements.

Skunkworks is built on the prediction that the next major mobile opportunity will come from identifying, reaching and disrupting segments of the industry that other studios have left behind or ignored. By developing innovative new research methods and using freely available market data, they identify new disruption opportunities.

James says: “Our singular aim is to begin disrupting at the subgenre level, one by one, segment by segment. The merge subgenre is one that is now growing both in popularity with consumers and with developers. In developer circles it is seen as a natural successor to the “Match 3” genre of games and we are already seeing a highly engaged core audience around our products.”

The team is gearing up for a full global launch of MergeFriends early in 2021.

Pento - a great place to work

Pento, which makes payroll digital and flexible for all, is also gaining recognition. Recruitment company Tempo included them in their “top 50 startups to work for in 2021” in the UK. Coming in at no9, it was praised for “bringing payroll into the 21st Century”.

The path to success for European startups is shortening

European startups are taking less time to be more successful. Look at the recent growth of Hopin achieving $2.125bn in less than a year and UIpath taking less than five years to hit $10bn. Is this a watershed moment?

Traditionally, Europe has suffered from four main structural issues holding back startups:

  1. European fragmentation
  2. Lack of later stage funding
  3. Lack of talent (good talent compensation with options)
  4. Lack of innovation superhubs as compared to Silicon Valley or New York

My view is that all four obstacles are slowly being eroded. In particular, geographical hurdles like fragmentation and the requirement for superhubs seem less relevant today as we get closer and closer to a full digital economy. Innovation in Europe is not as constrained to the main centres as it once was and post-pandemic remote working is killing off geography even more quickly. We are also seeing more and more capital come into the later stages of European VC helping to solve the later stage funding problem. Finally as we have noted in earlier newsletters there are more billion dollar tech companies in Europe who are becoming a great breeding ground for the next generation of founders and top tier talent.

Diversity helps you to design and build better products

I was inspired by an interview with Twitter’s Chief Design Officer Dantley Davis last month. His impetus for building the most diverse team in tech is not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it solves a business problem:

“Bringing in people who understand your customers intimately so they can build products that align to the problems that we're trying to solve in the world,” he says. One of the main advantages of a diverse team is having people that inherently understand your customers, so you can achieve product-market fit that much faster.

This is not a mythical pipeline problem, Davis says. Rather it’s a relationship problem among hiring managers that are not women or people of color with those communities. And the solution is not performative gestures, but doing the work. This could mean flying to a different country on your weekend to meet with a candidate and learning about who they are and what their motivations are. Of course, this is made infinitely easier with our new virtual world!

Moonfire Zoom Series

Build your foundational principles
We were delighted to have the recognised executive coach and Author of Reboot: Leadership and the Art of Growing Up, Jerry Colonna, back on our Zoom Series just before the UK's second lockdown. His insights provided tools for all of us to consider in these chaotic times. At Moonfire we know how important it is to establish early on in a startup’s life the key principles that define you as a company. In these unusual times, this is even more important. A founding team faces various types of storms on an almost continuous basis and these will not magically disappear, even post a pandemic. By deciding what you stand for, you reduce the influence of all the events happening around you and focus on executing on your vision.

Up next - Nir Eyal, legendary author of Hooked and Indistractable
For our next episode, on December 11th, we are thrilled to welcome Nir Eyal, legendary author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Productsand Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life. Nir is an investor and former marketing lecturer at Stanford Graduate School of Business & Design.

He will be hosting a dynamic and interactive workshop on how to apply Hooked’s principles to your company.

We have limited spots available, but please let us know if you are interested in participating and we will reach out to you. You won’t want to miss this one!

I hope you have enjoyed catching up on our latest news!