A new (virtual) reality dawns for Havson Group
By Chong Jinn Xiung June 23, 2017
- Future plans for Southeast Asia, China and the US following round of funding
- Company aims to use VR as an attraction to draw crowds to dying malls
MALAYSIAN virtual reality (VR) entertainment technology startup Havson Group has successfully closed an undisclosed round of funding from Silicon Valley-based venture capital seed fund and accelerator 500 Startups.
Havson Group founder Havene Liew tells DNA that the investment comes at an opportune moment as VR and augmented reality (AR) is being introduced in the region.
“We are proud to have direct investment from a truly global partner like 500 Startups. As a Malaysian based company, we have always wanted to showcase the capabilities of creating original intellectual property (IP) and technology from this region,” he said in an email response.
Meanwhile, in a press release Managing Partner of 500 Startups, Khailee Ng said that the investment in Havson Group was not only in line with their goal to recognise promising startups in Southeast Asia (SEA) but also assist them in growing on a global level.
“Having invested in 1,700 startups in over 60 countries, we have 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 generate ongoing profit share. It is a very capital efficient way to build a global business that we like,” said Ng.
In bringing VR to SEA, Havson Group sees many advantages including drawing traffic to dying malls.
“Our VR parks provide a solution for mall operators wanting to attract footfall, especially from millennials, and provides a gaming experience unlike any other VR multiplayer game has done,” says Liew.
With a strong focus on the booming VR market, Havson Group has future plans involving SEA, China and the United States with partnerships signed in Pakistan and China.
While focusing on malls for now, Liew predicts that consumer VR will pick up as a natural consequence of consumers being exposed to its VR centres in malls and theme parks.
He adds that the Havson Group is investing into a future where games and technology will connect in real time to deliver immersive experiences. Casting his eye to a market beyond mall operators, Liew hopes other industries including education and engineering will take advantage of their solutions.
The company is currently in discussions with numerous major theme park and resorts across the region.
Havson Group joins a growing number of VR entertainment centres across the world. This includes The Void which is based in Utah, New York and Dubai; Zero Latency in Melbourne and Dreamscape in Los Angeles.
Zero Latency received a total of US$9.5 million to date in seed and venture funding from Carthona Capital while Dreamscape raised US$11 million in a round led by Bold Capital.
Cinema entertainment group Imax has also announced plans to open six VR centres in partnership with AMC Theatres and Regal Entertainment. The centres will be in Britain, China as well as Japan, the Middle East and Western Europe.
Havson Group, through its digital entertainment division EXA Global, recently launched EXA Outpost, its first VR family entertainment centre (FEC) in Puchong.
“EXA Outpost is more than just a VR entertainment centre. The team will definitely be working hard to innovate and deliver more immersive experiences that will be our unique selling point to our customers,” promises Liew.