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Gigglebug: Nordic playfulness

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“Right from the start, this was always about spreading the ‘giggle bug’. It’s about cultivating positivity through family entertainment,” explains Anttu Harlin, co-founder and CEO of Gigglebug. “Our very first production starred a tiny character called Gigglebug who had the biggest gift of all: a contagious laugher that could unlock any situation. This character gave us the belief to start the company. If we could infect laughter through a cartoon character, the way that laugher infects socially, we would be adding true value to the animation game. Today, this thinking is part of our DNA, rooted in the Nordic approach to quality of life.”

Gigglebug Entertainment, as the company is formally called, is a Helsinki-based animation studio founded in 2013 that creates entertainment content targeted at children and families. Its work includes animated TV series, movies, games and gifs. Its mission, simply put, is “to contribute joy and wellbeing to new generations, by bringing characters to life and heart and humour to original ideas and stories.”

But like many markets, the animation world is changing: “I think the market is increasingly focused on developmental needs and the unique tastes that are typical to each age group and audience segment. But, within the audiovisual sector, animation is a technique that allows stories to travel effectively across borders. Visual comedy has no borders,” Anttu explains.

At the same time, with more devices to consume content on and broader internet coverage, digitalisation has meant that we can all access entertainment much more easily than before. This bodes well for a company like Gigglebug.

The company is well positioned to grow into a market leader in Europe. Anttu and his team have developed a wealth of experience in knowing what has ‘hit potential’, and have built credibility in the market, most notably through collaborations and partnerships with big names like Disney, Nickelodeon and Netflix for example. “We develop and produce content that’s exciting and reliable – and that’s what they want,” Anttu says.

With confirmed productions in the pipeline and strong growth expectations, Anttu couldn’t afford to let the economic slow-down affect their ambitions. To finance this growth, the company secured a loan from Nordea, guaranteed by the EIF through the European Guarantee Fund. “We invested in development and sales to make sure we could capitalise on good momentum from last year and avoid a slowdown. Writing, designing, running demos, pilots…there’s a lot of work that needs to be done. We have two productions running in parallel right now. Soon we hope it will be three. We’re taking one step at a time, but the aim is to be the strongest animation studio in northern Europe.”

Location: Helsinki, Finland

Financial Intermediary: Nordea

SME: Gigglebug (Finland)

Sector: audiovisual

Number of employees: 60

Financing purpose: growth; product development

EU financing: EGF

For further information about EIF intermediaries in Finland, please refer to: http://www.eif.org/what_we_do/where/fi/index.htm

 

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