Vancouver-based Biba has raised $1.3 million in a pre-Series A led by Leonite Capital. Greg Zeschuk, co-founder of BioWare, and Jason Kapalka, co-founder of PopCap Games, also participated in the round.
Biba has a mission to turn playgrounds into smart playgrounds through AR-enhanced mobile apps parents can use to engage with children on the playground. Biba’s augmented reality markers can attach to playground equipment in less than fifteen minutes, and the markers unlock content within the app when scanned on the parent’s smartphone. According to the company, they are looking to tackle the issue of screen-fixation among children.
“The funding will be used to fuel R&D, create more games, and install more Biba playgrounds across the world,” said Matt Toner, CEO of Biba. “When it comes to making an impact on childhood fitness, we’ve taken on a big mission. Our games help create a fun environment that today’s children look forward to on the playground, while easing some of the challenges today’s parents face when it comes to raising healthy kids.”
The platform can also turn gameplay into actionable data that park managers and owners can use to learn more about their community’s play spaces, rather than sending researchers to parks to manually track traffic. The company says the data is COPPA compliant, and can be used to generate a profile for each playground and deliver monthly reports to park and city officials.
“I spent most of my career developing games that kept children on the couch for hundreds of hours,” said Zeschuk. “With Biba, I feel that I’m giving back to the world by making games that encourage children to go outside and get physical. Biba’s games are not only fun and interactive, but really help children play harder and longer.”
While the company raised most of its funding in New York, Toner expressed some frustration at the difficulty of raising funding in Vancouver.
“The biggest single challenge for the Vancouver startup scene is the yawning chasm where angel-level financing should be. Startups here are competing for talent with cities that are flush with early-stage cash: Seattle (a short hop away) and San Francisco (a slightly longer hop),” he said. “Biba has amazing investors in New York and elsewhere, but it’s crazy that we have to go that far to get the fuel that we need. For a healthy angel ecosystem, you need to have smart money within one Tesla-charge of your office. That isn’t the case here, at least not yet.”
Photo via Like Vancouver