By: Gigaom
App-focused VC fund Vision+ reveals first investments
The fund, backed by Microsoft and Nokia, invests in products rather than startups. Early takeup is promising, with Vision+ putting money into three new top-level domains and a fistful of games.

When former Nokia exec Tero Ojanperä set up an app-oriented VC fund in March, the question was whether startups would be as willing to give up a share of their future revenues as they would be to give up equity.

The answer, it seems, is in the affirmative. The backers of the Vision+ Fund have just spilled some stats around its first €3m ($3.8m) of investments into 19 products – remember, the fund invests in products rather than whole companies – and it seems like the idea is indeed taking off.

“Finding takers has not been a problem,” Ojanperä told me. “It’s about focusing on the quality and finding the right fit for the model. We have proven and tested the model and the next step is focusing on getting the first product to market.”

GREENi, one of that first crop of 19 products, is a great case in point. The company has an existing business in helping golfers track each other round the course, but now Vision+ has invested in a new app that lets people track their favourite pro golfer. The fund’s investment (effectively an interest-free loan) secures a share of future revenues from the new app, rather than taking equity in the existing business.

Quite a few of the investments are into games, such as Mike Vick: GameTime by U.S.-based KBJ Games, Hit No Hit from L.A.’s Moeo, a new multi-platform mobile game from Finland’s Tribeflame, the amusingly-named Total Recoil, and 10 games from France’s Mando. On the more serious side, there’s also the carbon footprint calculator Ecompter, which is aimed at hotels and meeting venues.

And on a somewhat grander scale, Vision+ has also invested in three new top-level domains, namely .city, 在线 (.online in Chinese) and 中文网 (.website in Chinese). The risk here is that these new TLDs don’t get granted, but Ojanperä reckons the team behind them will meet with success in this regard. No doubt the returns will be huge.

Of course, this is just the start. Ojanperä says the Vision+ Fund will close sometime next year with €50m-€100m in capital and a “couple of hundred projects” on the go.

It’s an unusual approach to tech venture capital, but the early signs are promising. Now Vision+ just needs to help get these products on the market. If the revenues flow, the model will really have proven itself.

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