How do you explain “visual novels” in a fundraising pitch to investors who don’t know what VNs are?

Last fall, we succeeded in securing funding from RMIT’s NEIF (New Enterprise Investment Fund) for our upcoming visual novel Necrobarista. In my talk at Visual;Conference earlier this month, I presented some components of what made our fundraising pitch a success.  One specific component that seems essential to any fundraising pitch is how you articulate exactly what it is that you’re doing with the money, so I thought I’d explain how we did this in a bit more detail.

Part of our pitch last fall included a bit of analysis of the current market for visual novels, and as part of that, we presented this infographic:

Kevin (the chap who actually stood up to deliver the presentation) gives the above infographic with the following remark: “This information is not supposed to be ultra-to-the-dot-accurate (it’s not), but act as a way to really quickly home in on what we wished to convey.”

We presented the infographic above to make the following observation:

Visual novels represent a rapidly growing niche market that has seen a growth in consumption in 29.2% in the past year, with only a 12.2% increase of titles released in the same period.

Investors tend to be pragmatic, so value judgments on the artistic value of producing a western visual novel weren’t as important as the business case we made.

However, before we got to that point, we had to ensure our audience was familiar with the concept of visual novels.  Our VN is a bit outside their usual wheelhouse; for a bit of context, you can take a look at NEIF’s portfolio to see the types of companies that they usually investment.

Within the VN community, we toss around a lot of jargon.  Take, for example, the genre labels that have their origins in the Japanese language, like otome, bishoujo, and yuri/yaoi.  We take it for granted that people know what a “kinetic novel” is, in the same way that a mainstream gaming outlet would assume that their audience is familiar with terms like FPS, MOBA, or “fighting game.”  And while many people within the general gaming audience might have a passing familiarity with the concept of visual novels, we knew we couldn’t go into our presentation with that assumption.

How do you explain “visual novels” in a fundraising pitch to investors who aren’t familiar with VNs as a concept?  Here’s an excerpt from the Information Memorandum that we sent to NEIF:

Visual novels are interactive video games presented as mixed-media novels focusing on telling a story through text with graphic and audio accompaniment. The medium has its origins in Japan, where they see the overwhelming majority of their commercial success, and as such often adhere to an anime-style aesthetic.

The wording seems a bit clumsy in retrospect (“interactive video games” strikes me as a bit redundant) but it allowed us to make the case well enough to get funded.

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