Kyle Kesterson’s new animation startup, Freak’n Genius, has raised $525,000 in contemporary funding from greater than a dozen angel buyers that embody Zapd founder Kelly Smith; Jumala founder Virl Hill; Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati; Chris Hurley; Ty Alevizos and others. Kesterson tells GeekWire that the corporate hit its unique $450,000 funding purpose inside two weeks of graduating from Microsoft’s Kinect Accelerator, a brand new program which gives help to startups that are utilizing the motion-sensing expertise in progressive methods.
The fundraising round additionally comes after Freak’n Genius turned down an acquisition provide and an funding from a big company companion.
“We spent a month entertaining the deal and put the angel elevate on maintain,” says Kesterson. “After going backwards and forwards and never with the ability to fully discover a mutual alignment, we respectfully bowed out and targeted on our smaller angel elevate.”
Freak’n Genius makes use of Microsoft’s Kinect to let folks crawl into the digital pores and skin of a wide range of animated characters after which create quick comedic movies that may be shared over the Net. It was began at a Startup Weekend occasion in Seattle.
Along with Kesterson, who beforehand co-founded Big Thinkwell, the crew consists of sketch comedy artist Clayton Weller and technologist Dwayne Mercredi. It additionally simply employed its first engineer, and plans to carry on two others within the close to time period. The corporate is now situated within the SURF Incubator in downtown Seattle.
“Fundraising (has) been thrilling, exhausting, and fairly the educational expertise, and I’m wanting ahead to the subsequent chapter of getting all cylinders firing on product improvement again with the remainder of the crew,” mentioned Kesterson.
Weller, for instance, has been working with greater than a dozen comedians to develop political-based skits tied to the election. The brand new animated shorts will likely be launched starting this week on the corporate’s YouTube channel, with Kesterson saying that they’ll combine political satire with some absurdity.
Freak’n Genius additionally has been cultivating alternatives from the Kinect Accelerator program, with Kesterson saying that it has opened up doorways in new methods.
“It often consists of individuals wanting to select our brains round working with the gadget, working with Microsoft as a small startup, the place we see depth-sensing going, the challenges we’ve had, and any perspective we are able to present for his or her concepts,” mentioned Kesterson. For instance, it was not too long ago invited to Nike’s “Attire Innovation Hackathon” in Beaverton, Oregon, spending time with designers on the sports activities attire large.
“It’s inspiring to see the Kinect being embraced from the grassroots stage, as much as the company stage, and it’s a bit reassuring in that, though we’re skating to the puck and are presently a bit forward of the curve with this expertise, it seems to have a momentous swell taking place proper behind us that makes it so we’re not too far forward and have an honest shot to be part of one thing wonderful,” he mentioned.
Beforehand on GeekWire: Freak’n Genius: Animation startup uses Microsoft Kinect to tap your inner goofball