Today, we are proud to unveil our investment in Flagcat’s €2m Seed round alongside our friends at Seedcamp, Purple, Motier Ventures, Super Capital and word-class BAs such as Julien Chaumont, Irwan Bello or Vincent Nallatamby!
Flagcat is tackling the fast-growing $7b webtoon market! Born in South Korea, Webtoons have become increasingly popular over the last few years, reaching hundreds of millions of readers across the world. Webtoons draw their origins directly from traditional manga, with comparable art styles, themes and storylines. Their distribution, however, is completely different: webtoons are mobile and online first, consumed on a vertical format and must abide to a strict publication schedule (engineered to get readers hooked): each franchise needs to release one episode a week, always on the same day at the same hour.
Top webtoon IPs are becoming billion dollar franchises, often exporting to other platforms like Netflix! For example, “All of Us Are Dead”, based on the webtoon “Now at Our School”, was Netflix’s 5th most popular non-english series debut when it released its first season in 2022.
As webtoons gain traction internationally, their market size is expected to balloon to more than $60 billion by 2030.
Despite the high-frequency production constraints put on studios, production techniques remain very manual. Studios employ armies of graphic designers working day and night! This has historically led to high levels of burnout for creatives in that industry, and sometimes poor quality standards.
Here comes Flagcat, which is creating a new studio from the ground up, revolutionizing content production workflows with tech and AI. The founding team has spent the last 12 months leveraging the recent breakthroughs in generative AI and especially Stable Diffusion to build tools to assist graphic designers and illustrators in their work. Flagcat’s vision is not to replace illustrators but enhance them with great tooling.
Some of our most diligent readers will notice the proximity with our investment in Animaj, which is using AI in the kids animation industry. This highlights our thesis that there is a huge potential for AI to disrupt creative industries. Unlike some B2B applications that require a perfect control of the AI model’s outputs which can limit its use in production (one of the big challenges with LLMs is their hallucination), creative processes don’t need perfect predictability and benefit from the non-deterministic nature of large models.
Diffusion models are inspiring artists and creators, and unleashing human creativity: Midjourney for example has 15m MAU, amongst which 30–50% are professionals according to its CEO. We believe that creators empowered with the right AI tools can lead to substantial improvements in content quality and decreases in production costs!
From our first meeting with the Flagcat team, it was obvious to us that we needed to partner with them. Jeff, the CEO at Flagcat, is an experienced entrepreneur, who was one of the first French to join a YC company, AirHelp, back in 2015, and help them scale from 10 to 300 employees. He is also a writer in his spare time, and has a deep passion for the manga culture. Quentin is the CTO at Flagcat and was amongst the first to tinker with Stable diffusion when it got released. Since then, he has been a core contributor to dozens of discord communities, sharing tips and hacks to make the most of Stable Diffusion and harness its power. Finally, Remi is an autodidact coder who started SortieManga as a side project in 2019, before it became a go-to website for webtoon fans across Europe, gathering 1.5 million visitors per month!
This unique asset, combined with their unique prototyping engine, is used by the Flagcat team to test and iterate on new concepts at lightning speed, by leveraging this proprietary feedback loop.
Flagcat was born less than a year ago, but it did not take long for the team to come up with their first IP: “Writers”, which caught the attention of the best Korean webtoon publishers. In everything they do, Flagcat’s ambition is to produce “bangers”, IPs which have the potential to become billion dollar franchises!
We are very excited to onboard for the Flagcat journey and help building a leading webtoon studio!