The World of Esports Startups
Farzana Haque, 24 August 2023
Following the Women’s World Cup Final this weekend—and in the wake of our recent article explaining our preference for sector groupings and buzzwords over SIC codes—we found ourselves drawn to the world of esports this week.
At Beauhurst, we define esports (electronic sports) as ‘a form of sporting competition using video games where games may be held in person or online but will always refer to video games’.
In this article, we’ll show you an insight into the sector and spotlight some companies you might want to keep your eye on.
The esport ecosystem
The UK high-growth esports sector consists of 67 companies in total, of which 46 meet Beauhurst tracking triggers and 21 have exited or died. Though there have been esports companies since the early 2000s, the sector saw the peak of its activity in 2018 with the foundation of 12 new companies in one year alone. Among the currently active esports companies, none have any registered patents.
Of our eight tracking triggers, the most common trigger is equity raised. Of the high-growth esport companies in our list, we can see that 82% hit this tracking trigger. The second most common tracking trigger that these companies have hit is accelerator attendance. Of those in this list, 27% (that’s 18 companies) have attended an accelerator in their time. Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, we can reveal there have been no esports academic spinouts and there’s only one grant recipient (Wingman AI Agents) within the sector.
The highest concentration of esports companies is in London and surrounding areas—accounting for 67% of all companies. Meanwhile, currently, there are no esports companies based in Wales or Northern Ireland.
Who are the top esports raisers?
Below we’ve ranked the top five companies within this sector by the amount of equity raised to date.
Total Equity Raised: £51.6m
Fnatic operates an esports agency that organises professional video gaming teams and publishes a range of video game-related content via social media. The company is backed by Beringea, BlackPine, JHD and Raptor Group among other investors and is currently attending the Grow London Global accelerator.
Total Equity Raised: £22.8m
FACEIT runs an interface for players to log into third-party online games and compete in leagues, collecting points that can be redeemed for prizes. This 20% scaleup company has been featured on the Top 100 Britain’s Fastest-Growing Business list in 2019.
Total Equity Raised: £17.9m
Midnite operates a website and mobile app for esports live streaming and betting. The company has raised £17.9m in equity funding over six rounds and is backed by Makers Fund, Venrex Investment Management and The Raine Group.
Total Equity Raised: £9.97m
Ginx TV has created video-gaming TV channels around the world, branded Ginx, as well as individual shows and formats for syndication aimed at video-gaming fans. The company is backed by Crowdcube, Envestors, Ibis Capital, British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) and ITV.
Total Equity Raised: £7.90m
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