I talked to Sami Kuivasaari, one of the people behind a Finnish spin-off startup Advant Games, a little while back about their company and the way they see the money gaming market. Advant Games is a young spin-off company from a joint research project between the Tampere University of Technology, Tekes (the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation) as well as Veikkaus (the money gaming monopoly of Finland). I titled this post explicitly as successfully, because in 2008 just 2 years after their founding Advant Games turned over close to 400k€ with a 20% profit margin.
The company has an interesting history, something that could perhaps be used as a model example of a university spinoff. The company, as said before, was a result of a joint research program. Three people joined the company initially from the research team that was backed and supported by the professors affiliated with the research. Since their founding, they have grown with sales – the best financing there is. They’ve also taken advantage of Tekes’ funding and other government financing to grow the business.
Advant Games has an interesting product offering. Their single most important product is the ADS or Advant Designer Suite. With the help of the suite, one can create money gaming concepts fast and also test them out with some test users. The product gathers detailed data of users and how they feel of using the service. This of course can be used to further iterate and improve the game concept. Another interesting feature of the service is that they can simulate the gaming logic of real players on the concept and thus test it with artificial intelligence. Initially Advant Games focused on just offering ADS to their customers, but have now grown to include different kind of services around the product.
Despite being in a very lucrative business, they do have their share of challenges as well. Their challenges remain in finding and engaging with new clients. Currently their single most important client has been Veikkaus, one of the partners in founding the company. They have a very limited amount of clients and they are relatively hard to reach. Furthermore, according to Sami Kuivasaari, the technological side of things in these companies is taken care of by few companies only.
Sami Kuivasaari believes that the market is a very interesting one, despite being fragmented by different local jurisdictions. Also, the competition is getting tougher as companies are filling the opportunity gap. The fragmented jurisdiction itself might become one of the biggest opportunities though, as EU is unifying its gaming laws in Europe. This may provide Advant Games and its competitors a huge market for improvement as companies will be able to compete cross border.