With the growing success of its free-to-play model, Omaha mobile games company SkyVu Entertainment reached profitability early this year and wasn’t actively seeking institutional investment. But that began to change in May, over the course of a couple of tweets.
“We were in a comfy position to choose whether or not we needed to pursue more investment,” SkyVu co-founder and CEO Ben Vu recalled in a phone interview Monday. “And we just happened to literally bump into the right guy.”
Fast forward three months, and today SkyVu announced it has raised an undisclosed amount of seed capital with Lightbank leading the way. NextView Ventures of Boston, Great Oaks Venture Capital of New York, Michael Chang (the former CEO of Greystripe), and the Nebraska Angels also participated in the round.
SkyVu is the first mobile gaming investment for Lightbank, the venture capital firm established by Groupon co-founders Brad Keywell and Eric Lefkofsky. Lee (left) said in an email interview that Lightbank has looked at 50-60 mobile gaming companies in the last 18 months and that the “quality of the management team and their deep passion for creating quality (intellectual property) and commitment to character development” drove his firm’s decision to invest in SkyVu.
Vu said SkyVu, which he founded in 2009 with his brother, Hoa Vu, will put the investment money toward marketing efforts, the acquisition of new users, the expansion of intellectual property for its popular Battle Bears line, the launch of new intellectual property and localization efforts for the Asian market.
Vu said the company is looking at potential deals to license Battle Bears for television, toys or other merchandise but that those deals are “ongoing.”
The company also has plans to launch a different game line later this year.
“Whereas Battle Bears is very edgy and very focused on the young, male, 9-14 audience, the new IP that we’re launching later this year is more family friendly and hits a wider audience,” Vu (left) said.
SkyVu, which was 22 employees total and 21 in Omaha, is looking at opening an additional office in San Francisco. Vu said no definite timetable has been established for that.
“We’re just still exploring possibilities in terms of location as well as personnel,” he said.
The Nebraska Angels first invested in SkyVu in 2009. Both Vu and the Angels said they are pleased to have the Angels involved in the second part of the company’s seed round.
“The Angels are now extremely pleased to further invest in SkyVu as they build an international brand and expand their market into television and toys,” Karen Linder, a member of the Nebrsaka Angels and a SkyVu board member, said in a release. “I’ve truly enjoyed watching the company’s birth and growth through the past three years and look forward to an exciting future.”
Lee, who suggested in May that Lightbank had potential Omaha investments on its radar screen, said he’s “really excited to be investing in the region.”