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Newcastle gaming start-up bought for “7 figures”

Newcastle gaming start-up, Grid Finder has been acquired by US motorsports group, RAFA Racing Club.

While exact details of the “7-figure sum” haven’t been revealed, it has been in a “majority-cash deal.”

Grid Finder was established in 2020 by Tom Stapley-Bunten as a hobby project to help online racing gamers find communities to race with across Playstation, XBOX and PC on games such as F1, Gran Turismo & Forza. 

A year later, he met co-founder, Nikhil Patel (CTO) at a tech networking event in the North East and received backing from tech entrepreneur, Kevin Beales, who led a pre-seed investment round of £200k in April 2022.

That same year, it opened a £1.5m seed round, receiving £425k in Safenotes from Creative UK and RAFA Racing Club’s venture arm – Maximo Capital.

“Becoming part of the RAFA family of brands opens up huge opportunities for the team and the platform,” said CEO, Tom Stapley-Bunten.

“Grid Finder now has the resources and supported vision to provide immense value to the online racing space. I’m incredibly proud of our entirely self-taught team for building something with so much potential in such a nascent market. With RAFA Racing’s passion, vision and resources, we’ll be able to scale our product to serve a global community of racing fans.

“I am so grateful for the tech and start up support eco system that is being championed in the North East of England. It’s been great to feel part of a growing movement of creative thinkers in Newcastle and I’m so glad that we’re able to continue to hire from our local talent pool.”

The platform has grown to host more than 3000 racing communities, with over 500k drivers using it to find online racing. It recently hosted activations with Formula E and Porsche Motorsport North America and is currently working with several gaming studios to build direct integrations between their games and Grid Finder. 

RAFA Racing Club, meanwhile, is building a network of venues, content and experiences for motorsports and sports car fans around the world. Starting in Houston and Austin, and expanding to Europe in 2024, the clubs will provide a space for motorsports fans and drivers to share their passion for racing. The clubs will play host to suite of facilities including gyms, sim racing training centres and more. 

“With our shared passion for motorsports and the immense potential of the online racing space, we believe that together we can create a global community for racing enthusiasts and provide innovative solutions to push the whole racing industry forward,” added Jason Stoddard Investment Manager, Maximo Capital.

The company said that the current team would remain in place “for the foreseeable future.” It would remain based in Newcastle. 

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