Malaysia: VR firm Havson Group secures seed funding from 500 Startups

Virtual reality view of San Francisco, California.

VR entertainment technology startup Havson Group has closed a round of funding from Silicon Valley-based venture capital seed fund and accelerator, 500 Startups.

Havson, founded by Rayson Wong and Havene Liew, produces VR content and provides VR tech solutions to theme parks and shopping malls. Recently, it launched EXA Outpost, a hyper-reality development studio based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In the studio, players undergo a first-person immersion experience involving the firm’s VR technology.

Starting off as Mediasoft Entertainment in 2012, the team has developed mobile games that include the badminton game Jump Smash and the world’s first sepak takraw game Roll Spike that saw more than 10 million downloads.

Havson Group participated in and won the Alibaba CACSC competition held in Singapore in August 2016, emerging as a Champion against 12 other startups from the region. 

“Through the Alibaba CACSC competition, we managed to prove to the world that we are an emerging global tech company solving real gaming problems.” said Kee Saik Meng, Founding Partner of Havson Group. 

The company sees the retail segment “growing very rapidly in the next few quarters” and foresees Hollywood studios and major game publishers seeking strategic partners for intellectual property (IP) agreements.

Some other players in the VR space that the Havson Group is competing with include The Void, a hyper-reality experience gaming centre based in Utah, New York and Dubai; Melbourne-based Zero Latency, an immersive VR studio which has raised $9.5 million in venture funding from Carthona Capital; and Dreamscape Immersive, which plans to open a VR Multiplex in Los Angeles later this year and has recently secured $11 million in funding in a round led by Bold Capital.

Imax is also entering the space, with plans to establish six VR centres in partnership with AMC Theaters and Regal Entertainment. It plans to establish these centres in the UK, China, Japan, the Middle East and Western Europe.

According to the company, it has already entered into partnerships with firms in Pakistan and Shenzhen, China, and is currently in discussions with various theme parks and resorts across the region. It has plans for establishing a footprint in Southeast Asia, the US and China. 

“Having invested in 1,700 Startups in over 60 countries, we’ve built an international platform for startups like Havson to rapidly enter multiple markets at speed. Their business model involves malls paying upfront for rollouts, and generates ongoing profit share. It’s a very capital efficient way to build a global business. Just the kind of business we like!” said Khailee Ng, Managing Partner of 500 Startups.

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