Home Venture Capital VR Startup StatusPro Teams With Google, Drake, LeBron On Funding Round

VR Startup StatusPro Teams With Google, Drake, LeBron On Funding Round

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Sports-focused virtual-reality startup StatusPRO has raised a stout $20 million Series A funding round led by Alphabet’s GV venture-capital unit, with other investors including NBA star LeBron James and Grammy-winning musician Drake.

The company’s first title, NFL Pro Era, gives players an immersive, gamified experience of being an NFL quarterback, and allows both multiplayer competitions and casual, social experiences like hanging in an NFL stadium and playing catch. Pro Era launched in 2022, and now is on Meta’s Quest headsets as well as Steam’s store. The game has licenses from both the NFL and the NFL Players Association.

“We wanted to democratize what it could be to be an elite athlete,” said Andrew “Hawk” Hawkins, StatusPro’s president in an interview. Hawkins is company co-founder along with CEO Troy Jones. “You have to know football, but we try our best to make it inviting for any and all fans to enjoy.”

The new fundraise will finance both an expansion of StatusPRO’s football game, to include the ability to play other positions such as receiver as well as defensive players, and to expand into similar immersive experiences for other major sports, Jones said. Funds will finance expanded engineering and marketing among other uses.

NFL Pro Era actually was initially created to help real quarterbacks prepare for game-day experiences and defensive sets they might see, before it evolved to accommodate a more widely accessible audience. Jones said “a few clubs” still use the app for training and play repetitions.

Both Hawkins and Jones played football at a high level, Hawkins making it to the NFL as a receiver and Jones was a college quarterback before seguing to game development.

“We try to extract the fun part, capture the emotion and capture the control,” Jones said. “You have physically throw the ball. We handhold, so you know who your receiver is. Then, the higher you go, the less assistance you get.”

GV Venture Partner M.G. Siegler said in a release that Alphabet’s venture arm invested in the round because ​​“StatusPRO is building the next generation of sports and gaming entertainment through cutting-edge virtual reality. The company’s unique technology-driven approach and meaningful partnerships have resulted in strong early growth and product traction. Troy Jones and Andrew Hawkins have built an impressive team and track record of execution in a short time, and we’re thrilled to support StatusPRO as they move the VR gaming industry forward.”

Ultimately, NFL Pro Era football teams could have up to seven players on a side competing in multiplayer, Jones said. Other sports being considered for expansion titles include basketball, baseball and tennis.

“We want to be the go-to studio where our fans go who want to play these sports,” Hawkins said. “We also want to provide the emotional elements of the atmosphere of games, all the things that give our users the appetite to play.”

In building Pro Era games for other sports, the company will tap the expertise of some of its prominent investors, who include tennis star Naomi Osaka, the NBA’s LeBron James and his long-time business partner Maverick Carter, musician Drake, NFL star Lamar Jackson, and Paul Wachter, the prominent investment advisor whose clients include James and Drake.

Investment groups backing StatusPRO include Greycroft, Verizon Ventures, Haslam Sports Group, 49ers Enterprises KB Partners, and SCSC Holdings, Wise Ventures (from Minnesota Vikings owners Mark & Zygi Wilf), and the MicrosoftMSFT/Green Bay Packers fund TitletownTech.

Among participants in the funding round were a number of athletes and entertainers including Myles Garrett, David Grutman, Bobby Wagner, Jeff Stibel, Peter Delgrosso, Cameron Jordan, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Crystal Hayslett, Devale Ellis, as well as investment groups Dream Sports, JDS Sports, Alumni Ventures, Black Angel Group, Life Line Family Heritage Fund, and Sun Tech, according to the company.

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