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Europe Presses Play: Gaming Start-up Accelerator Launches

A new business accelerator promises to match gaming start-ups with gurus from Facebook, Zynga, and more. You just have to get to Estonia.
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Estonia's GameFounders just booted up Europe's first gaming start-up accelerator.

For the next three months, six start-up teams--selected from a pool of 121 applicants--will develop their products in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. On its blog, GameFounders claims the country is "the easiest place to start a business" for aspiring start-ups.

In return for giving up 9% equity stakes, the teams will receive 5,000 euros per entrepreneur (to a maximum of 15,000 euros), attend networking events and become eligible for game-targeted partnership deals, said GameFounders co-founder Kadri Ugand. (That formula would value each start-up at a max of $214,000--not much more than what a senior Palo Alto game developer might earn in a year.)

More valuable, perhaps: The program will link the start-up teams with more than 70 mentors from 15 countries. Participating mentors, who range from top CEOs to gaming gurus, include representatives from Zynga, Facebook, and Research in Motion, along with England's Blitz Games Studios and Finland's Grand Cru. "Our mentors are the backbone of the program," Ugand said.

GameFounders, which receives backing from the Estonian government, will fund the teams in partnership with Estonian angel investors. Ugand said the start-up teams will work on apps, tools and other products geared toward mobile, browser and offline games. 

The start-up teams include entrepreneurs with eclectic backgrounds, according to VentureBeat: a board game maker stepping into the mobile space, for instance, and a group of ex-employees of Ubisoft, a former French video game developer.

Ugand says the GameFounders program is a way to help budding entrepreneurs. "More and more accelerators are popping up all over the world since this is a good way for start-ups to launch and get noticed," she said. "We can be really useful for gaming start-ups, and our first batch can already vouch for that."




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