Home / Companies / Online gaming start-up Gamiana raises funds from Indian Angel

Mumbai: In its first funding for an online gaming firm, the Indian Angel Network (IAN) has invested nearly $1 million (around Rs5 crore) in a three-year-old start-up called Gamiana Digital Entertainment Pvt. Ltd that offers multi-player games that can be played across platforms.

The Mumbai-based start-up intends to use the money to grow its customer base, enhance software development for existing games and bid for overseas contracts.

The games are delivered online and can be played on Facebook or downloaded on to handsets.

“We, at Gamiana, will now be able to leverage the global presence, market insights and network of IAN’s global members to fuel our growth," said Vishal Golia, co-founder of Gamiana.

IAN is the country’s largest grouping of angel investors, who are mostly rich individuals looking to invest in fledgling firms.

Golia said he has a two-pronged strategy for the company—cater to the global interest in gaming by being present in emerging markets, including Brazil, the Philippines and Turkey; and becoming the dominant gaming company in India by tapping the increase in Internet usage on smart phones.

IAN member Chetan Shah, who has joined the board of Gamiana, said the company’s strategy of targeting emerging markets despite being based out of India is a smart one as markets such as Turkey and Brazil are known for spending capital on games.

“When it comes to returns, we have to be realistic; and I think 3x to 5x (three to five times of the capital invested) is acceptable," he said.

Gamiana’s Jamia game is a free-to-play browser-based virtual world and social space where players can connect and interact with thousands of others globally.

Vinashi is a real time strategy game where players “build their own armies, barricades, castles, villages, kingdoms" and can “wage wars against other kingdoms".

“One can play Vinashi for free, forever; but, if one wants to buy premium products like weapons, they will have to pay money for it," said Golia, explaining the revenue model of the start-up.

According to Golia, the global virtual goods business is $9 billion, and he expects that up to 10% of Gamiana users will pay for personal customization.

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers “Global entertainment and media outlook: 2010–2014 and 2011-2015," the size of the global video game industry is expected to increase to $90 billion by the end of fiscal 2013 from $75 billion in fiscal 2011.

A screen grab of Zynga Game Network Inc.’s game FarmVille. Bloomberg

In India, the gaming market is worth $100 million, it said.

One of the biggest names in online gaming is Zynga Game Network Inc., a social network game developer located in San Francisco.

Some of Zynga’s games are CityVille, CastleVille, Texas HoldEm Poker, FarmVille, and Empires and Allies.

The company makes money through the sale of virtual goods, which are used as currency within Zynga’s online games, and from advertising— both in and around its games.

Zynga went public last year.

“Social gaming on mobile is very interesting. People are done with downloadable and subscription models. We expect a lot more innovation coming up in this space," said Alok Mittal, managing director at Canaan Partners, India, an early stage venture capital company.

Gamiana will seek another round of funding in six to nine months, Golia said, but did not offer more details saying it was too early for that.

Online gaming companies in India have not attracted much attention from investors, and only less than half a dozen transactions were struck in this space over the past five years.

In December 2010, Matrix Partners had invested an undisclosed amount in Hyderabad-based gaming company Head Infotech India.


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