How ‘FOMO’ inspired this millennial founder, Steve Zhao to build a $71 million-dollar virtual reality game
When Steve Zhao was looking for investment for his virtual reality arcade business, he did something unconventional.
- Within 5 days closed out its Series A funding round with a total of $68 million, led by famed Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.
- In 2018, Sandbox VR had already won $3 million in early-stage funding, including from Chinese tech giant Alibaba.
- Zhao himself put in a personal investment of $300,000. “We started Sandbox VR in 2016 when the hype of VR was very palpable,” said Zhao.
- The engineer, who had relocated from the U.S. to Hong Kong for business, had seen the growing popularity of VR while working on a separate mobile gaming app and decided to pivot.
- While Hong Kong has long been recognized as a global financial centre, it has so far struggled to gain attraction as a major start-up hub for technologies VR or AI.
- With their team of six having successfully built a pop-up venue and amassed a small cult following for its games in Hong Kong.
- The team of six people decided in 2018 to take their business stateside — to the mecca of VR, Silicon Valley
- Sandbox VR now plans to open new locations in a range of U.S. cities, including Austin, Chicago, and New York as part of the company’s plans to target leading global markets.