Startup Battlesnake Raises $1.5 Million to Gamify Programming

By James White Saturday, September 25, 2021

Early iterations of the classic video game Snake first started appearing in the late 1990s. Since then, the very basic video game has inspired an entire genre and now appears to be breaking into the esports scene. Startup company Battlesnake is now using its own version of Snake to help programmers improve their skills.

Programmer working on a laptop.

Snatching Up New Funding

Battlesnake recently announced that its company successfully raised $1.5 million in new funding for its competitive programming business. The latest funding round for the startup was led by an investment from Madrona Venture Group. A number of additional investors supported the competitive programming company during the round, including Liquid 2, Ascend, and 200 OK. Battlesnake also received additional funding support from angel investors Jason Warner and Chris Aniszczyk.

“Whether you program at school or on the job, there comes a point where every developer wants to step outside their comfort zone and learn something new,” said Brad Van Vugt, founder and CEO of the startup business. “Battlesnake makes that process fun – you can play it with your co-workers or with developers across the globe, using whatever language and technologies you want to.”

Funding raised for the competitive programming company will help Battlesnake expand its platform and prepare for upcoming events and competitions with universities and corporations.

The startup business is currently gearing up for its fall league, which is slated to run from September 24 to November 20.

Complex Programming With a Simple Game

Originally started as a developer recruiting event in 2015, the startup company was founded by Van Vugt and entrepreneurs Noah Warder and Chris Hoefgen. As the competitive programming event began to draw thousands of participants and spectators, the founding team decided to expand their platform. By 2020, the startup business was working directly with corporate customers to host esports events.

At its core, the Battlesnake platform is quite simple. Play the classic video game Snake. Eat the dots, grow the snake, and try not to run into walls, your own snake, or other snakes. However, rather than having gamers control the snakes directly, participants are tasked with using a technology-driven solution to pilot their snakes.

The solution to the video game is open-ended, meaning developers can use whatever programming language or technology stack that they are familiar with to compete in competitions. Past participants have tried everything from artificial intelligence (AI) to remote web servers.

Hacking Into the Esports Industry

As the startup company continues to attract more and more participants and viewers to its event, the competitive programming business appears to be taking the form of an esports tournament. Though Battlesnake is not quite the same as a traditional video game and requires esports participants to have knowledge of programming techniques, the startup is hosting events similar to the likes of games, including Overwatch, Call of Duty, and League of Legends.

According to gaming market research firm Newzoo, the global esports industry is expected to generate over $1 billion in revenue during 2021, representing a year-over-year growth of 14.5% for the market. Furthermore, the global video game live-streaming audience is projected to grow to 728 million this year.

About the Author


Headshot of James White

James White is a Michigan State University graduate with a BS in Environmental Biology. He is interested in reporting emerging trends in technology, especially with regard to alternative energy and environmental conservation.

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