What Gaming VCs are looking for in today’s industry climate with Sisu Game Ventures

Nov 16, 2023

In this episode, we chat with Jere Partanen, a Principal at Sisu Game Ventures. Jere breaks down Sisu’s investing philosophy, tips for founders looking to fundraise, and what makes or breaks a gaming start up.

Throughout our conversation, Jere highlights the significance of investing in the gaming industry, drawing from his own experiences and shares some do’s and don'ts for growing gaming companies. Emphasizing the pivotal role of company culture and team dynamics, he underscores that founders should demonstrate humility, curiosity, and resilience to motivate their teams and build stronger connections with partners. Our dialogue weaves through different approaches to player acquisition, with Jere shedding light on the hurdles encountered by companies in the mobile gaming space. Jere concludes on the importance of maintaining transparent communication with investors through regular updates.

About Jere Partanen:

Jere Partanen is a Principal at Sisu Ventures, a Pre-Seed fund focused 100% on games. At Sisu, he is looking at deals across all platforms and geographies, with a focus on PC/Console and mobile studios in Europe and the US. In parallel to his work at Sisu, he works as a CPO of Pandatron, a startup using AI and coaching methodologies to help large-scale organizations with change management. Prior to Sisu, Jere worked across the Finnish startup ecosystem at organizations like Compensate, Helsinki Think Company, and Slush.

In this episode, you'll learn:

00:49 - About Jere's start in gaming and his earliest gaming memories.

01:38 - Jere gives credit to his obsession for World of Warcraft in winning a recent deal for his investment firm.

02:32 - All about Sisu Game Ventures, including the stages, investment sizes, companies, and geographies that focus on.

4:22 - Why VCs may be perceived negatively by founders

05:58 -  About Jere’s own start-up, Pandatron, which helps large enterprises succeed through big organizational changes using AI and coaching techniques

07:07 -  The importance of culture in Sisu’s evaluation process, including a cool example of the company culture at Lightheart Entertainment.

09:10 - How Sisu approaches the challenge of testing for culture while evaluating investment opportunities.

09:54 - The indicators and signals that Sisu looks for when investing in startups: humility, curiosity, and resilience.

10:54 - How Sisu looks at game investment opportunities and evaluates the talent based on impact above pedigree.

12:21 - The patterns and commonalities Jere sees across companies that stay the course in the toughest of times. And how investor updates are far more crucial that many may think.

13:42 - How a blue ocean strategy is a strong approach for user acquisition in mobile gaming & the opportunity that PC and cross-platform gaming companies have when they focus more on performance marketing.

15:20 - Habits and best practices that Jere sees across successful gaming founders. 

16:09 - The formula for a great Investor Update for gaming founders to get the most from their investors and partners. And the most actionable “asks” that founders can have for a VC.

17:59 - What Jere is excited about in the gaming industry.

19:11 How companies are using AI tooling in gaming today.