Led by Creative England in partnership with the BFI and UKBAA, Evolve is a programme designed to build a connected ecosystem of investors in the UK’s innovative media and entertainment sectors. As part of Evolve, we are highlighting leading industry investors to help provide a bit of insight into what it looks like to invest in screen-based businesses. UKBAA sat down with Gina King, Partner & SVP of Operations and Community at Supernode Global to find out a little bit more about emerging trends and the opportunities for investors.
“I think as an investor, it is key to look for a strong team who really will hustle to build the company in the right way, but also truly understands their target audience.”
Drawn to how media shapes culture, Gina King has always been passionate about the multifaceted role that media plays in forming our beliefs. Her career spans 20 years, starting from her time in the TMT investment banking team at Jefferies, where Gina was instrumental in developing and leading the global marketing function. While working at Jefferies, Gina was exposed to enterprise level companies, but it wasn’t until her time working in Silicon Valley on a start-up, that she noticed there was an incredible opportunity for startups to transform the media landscape through technology.
Fast forward, Gina is now Partner & SVP of Operations and Community at Supernode Global, a UK venture firm that invests in early-stage media technology companies, with a particular focus on seed stage businesses building tools and platforms. In her role, Gina scouts and supports entrepreneurs building the next generation of significant MediaTech companies.
When looking at the role creative tech businesses play in elevating how we consume and interact with content, there is no better time for innovation to pair with creativity. Gina sees an opportunity for growth in a breadth of areas including ecommerce, audio, gaming, and platforms that empower content creation.
“I think it’s really exciting right now because there is so much prevalence of content. We are consuming content in so many different mediums and I don’t think people realise the impact that media has on their lives. If you stop and think about it, you’re connected through social media to your friends and family, you’re sharing content, you’re watching TV or films on Netflix, or Amazon Prime or Apple TV. And at the same time, you probably also listen to podcasts.”
Looking at emerging trends, Gina explains that there is so much opportunity with media-enabled technologies because demand for innovation in digital experiences is at an all-time high. From ecommerce fashion platforms reimagining physical experiences, to content creators recording and producing their own music – personalisation of digital experience is at the highest it has ever been.
“Right now, there is a lot of live streaming ecommerce taking place. There is a unique opportunity offered by platforms and brand websites, where you chat and instantly connect with someone about the product. Shopping for instance, is a traditionally physical experience that is being replicated online and is no longer just transactional, it is now more experience driven.”
Gina shares that there is a huge phenomenon with the creator economy and embracing technology that empowers creativity. Coupled with the emergence of games that cater to the needs and behaviours of Gen Z, a generation connected to their screens and devices, we can empower cross-generational connectivity on platforms typically reserved for play.
“Some teachers are now using Minecraft to teach because they know that it is an environment where the kids feel naturally attuned, their friends and classmates are already there. Minecraft and Roblox are platforms that enable kids to be creative. They can build environments that can empower their own problem-solving situations, while also learning at the same time. It’s very natural to converge gaming, which is entertainment, with education”.
What is incredibly unique about MediaTech is that it marries technologies from a variety of sectors enabling the development of tools and platforms to create and deliver content and empower users. This space offers a multitude of opportunities for investors, because not only does it weave together the fastest growing aspects of different sectors, it caters to evolving consumer needs and creates completely new experiences that feel quite familiar.
So, how does one assess a media technology business?
“One of main things I look at is the value proposition – how strong is it? Is there a real problem that they are solving? If so, how big is it? What is the market? And who are they building this for? I also look at defensibility. Do they have it? Have they built technology, or have they built a community or a brand that gives them that defensibility where it is difficult for another company to penetrate the same market? Or are there existing big players that could easily gobble them up?”
In addition to these key checklist questions, Gina notes the team is an incredibly important factor when it comes to considering investing in a media technology business.
“I think as an investor, it is key to look for a strong team who really will hustle to build the company in the right way, but also truly understands their target audience. Sometimes you see a disconnect between the founders and the idea, and who they are building for, which creates a big problem for growth. So, I really look for that connection between the strength of the team and their strong understanding of the market and who they’re building it for.”
Further to the standard considerations, Gina shares that there are certain factors related to circumstance that shouldn’t missed.
“Another aspect that investors should really dig deep into, especially during COVID, is looking at the additional stresses and macro conditions that aren’t ideal for a lot of companies. How are they dealing with the impact on the team in terms of well-being and the company’s financial position? How are they thinking about taking their product to market? How are they preparing themselves and what is their strategy?”
We are in a time now, where platforms are creating unmatched connectivity. Globally, we can connect at the click of a link and see friends, family and colleagues. The spaces in which we live, work and play are becoming intertwined with the screens that we hold in our hands and talk into and sit in front of.
“MediaTech really touches everyone’s lives in a significant way. That really excites us as investors, seeing how much impact there is, how much opportunity there is to also shape a better world and a better future.”