Hong Kong listing for Singapore board-game maker

CMON co-founders David Doust (left) and Ng Chern Ann. With funds raised from its Hong Kong listing, the firm aims to expand its product range and market reach. It started in 2001 as CoolMiniOrNot.com, a community rating site where hobbyists could sha
CMON co-founders David Doust (left) and Ng Chern Ann. With funds raised from its Hong Kong listing, the firm aims to expand its product range and market reach. It started in 2001 as CoolMiniOrNot.com, a community rating site where hobbyists could share photos of painted miniature figurines.ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

A home-grown board-game maker that grew out of a hobbyists' website was listed in Hong Kong yesterday, and aims to expand its product range and market reach with the funds raised.

CMON has raised net proceeds of HK$49.3 million (S$9 million) by listing on the Growth Enterprise Market, an alternative bourse operated by the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that offers investors the opportunity to invest in "high growth, high risk" businesses.

It started in 2001 as CoolMiniOrNot.com, a community rating site where hobbyists could share photos of painted miniature figurines.

The company was incorporated in 2009 "because we had a strong niche audience on the website and we wanted to see where we could take this", said co-founders Ng Chern Ann and David Doust.

CMON started out selling miniature figurines and published its first board game in 2011, which it licensed from a third-party developer.

In 2012, it launched a campaign on crowdfunding site Kickstarter for a zombie-themed adventure board game called Zombicide, the first it developed in-house. It raised US$781,597 (S$1.1 million) from about 5,000 people.

"We saw a market opportunity for a game like Zombicide that would provide players with a cinematic experience," said Mr Ng, who was previously chief technology officer of gaming hardware company Razer.

"As you kill more zombies, more and more of them appear on the board... It's just like a zombie film."

CMON has since launched 23 games on Kickstarter and raised more than US$26 million.

It has a portfolio of 40 games with Zombicide its most popular franchise, accounting for over US$20 million in revenue so far.

"The reason our games are so successful is that our components are very high quality, which makes for more compelling games. Most of our competitors see miniatures as just little chits," said Mr Doust.

The company expanded into the mobile game market last year with XenoShyft, and has signed a publishing deal to make a Zombicide mobile game due out next year.

The Singapore-headquartered company plans to release 18 new games in the coming year.

Proceeds from the listing will be used to acquire more game titles and expand into new markets.

"We recognise that we don't have a monopoly on creative talent, and there is scope for consolidation in the industry. We're keen on acquiring more game titles, in particular from smaller publishing houses which might not have our marketing reach," said Mr Ng.

CMON is also keen on ramping up its presence in China, Europe and emerging markets like South America.

It made US$17 million in revenue last year, half of which came from the United States, 40 per cent from Europe, and 10 per cent from the rest of the world.

The decision to list in Hong Kong was driven by the market's "high volume, liquidity and access to China", said Mr Ng.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 03, 2016, with the headline 'HK listing for S'pore board-game maker'. Print Edition | Subscribe