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Noice raised $ 5 million for what the startup teases as a “playful” social platform for gamers.
The Helsinki, Finland-based startup comes from Jussi Laakkonen, founder of Applifier, a mobile game sharing company acquired by Unity Technologies in 2014. He has teamed up with Jenni Wilson, senior game designer and co-founder. They don’t yet describe what they do publicly because they tease that it combines user-generated content, deep game systems, and engaging social design.
The investors in Noice’s first round of funding are Laakkonen (Founder and CEO of Noice), David Helgason (Co-Founder of Unity Technologies), Ilkka Paananen (CEO of Supercell), Pekka Aakko (Co-Founder of Applifier) and Bret Terrill (Co-founder of Super Free) games), Kristian Segerstråhle (CEO of Super Evil Megacorp), Miki Kuusi (CEO of Wolt), Riku Mäkelä (co-founder of Wolt), Markus Mäki (Chairman of Remedy Entertainment) and Alexis Bonte (Chief Operating Officer of the Stillfront Group ). That’s a good part of the Scandinavian gaming startup mafia.
“The headline here is that the people who started Unicorns are backing this crazy new startup from a repeat entrepreneur,” Laakkonen said in an interview with GamesBeat. “I’ve met some people who have already built some really great things. It’s a very experienced team. This is our big joke. “
Laakkonen noted that Noice’s founding members created and scaled Unity Ads for gross sales of $ 100 million and Applifier’s Everyplay for tens of millions of replays of mobile games. They also built Applifier’s cross-promotion network for 250 million monthly active users.
“Noice is a social platform for gamers,” said Laakkonen. “When you’re designing for gamers, the first thing you need to think about is what your audience will like. They like to play games and most social media is not like a game. It is boring. With this core innovation, we see the whole thing as a playful social platform. “
By and large, social networks are the competitors.
“We want this platform to feel like a game from start to finish, from the first time you touch the platform to many years of being a user,” said Wilson. “That means discovering game loops, having a metagame and not just a success system. We want players to identify moments and celebrate and communicate immediately. “
The new platform
Image credit: Noice
Laakkonen ran Unity’s advertising business for a number of years and then tried to start a startup. But it failed and he closed it. Then he took a year off and moved with his family to Switzerland and went skiing for a while.
“The plan was to move around and get busy with so much that my crazy entrepreneurship would be busy doing other things,” Laakkonen said. “So it was like hanging out with the kids, relearning to code, helping them code and skiing, and just chilling out. We went on a safari. “
That helped Laakkonen to be recharged. Then, in 2019, he got together with Wilson to work on an idea to make gaming more social and engaging. They built a prototype and showed it to a few users after a few months of development. The feedback was good so they started working more on it. Then the coronavirus struck and slowed everything down.
“It really exploded around us and I was scared,” said Laakkonen.
The team stayed with it and made another prototype, which they tested in June 2020. The feedback was great again and so they officially launched the company in August 2020.
“Nobody puts all of these things together the way we make them,” said Wilson. “If we were to say the idea, people would say it’s obvious.”
Laakkonen had good relationships with many investors in order to raise money. He had some of his own money to invest from Unity’s IPO.
The new platform is in early testing and is seeing exceptional user engagement, Laakkonen said. The distributed startup has 18 employees and hires over 15 roles. The company does not have an office, but most are in Helsinki and some are spread around the world. There are vacancies for 3D modelers, engineering, quality assurance, and others.
Wilson was the lead designer on Best Fiends Forever at Seriously and has worked in other places such as Natural Motion and Next Games. The game developers on Noice’s team have worked at companies like Seriously, Zynga, Lightheart and Redhill Games. Wilson is based in Helsinki.
The company will use the funds raised to build the Noice platform with the aim of launching an open beta of the platform in early 2022. Does Laakkonen want to be a unicorn like his other Scandinavian friends built?
“I don’t want to be a unicorn founder,” he said. “I want to be a cockroach that there is no way you will kill me.”
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