StartPlaying has raised $6.5 million to enable tabletop players to buy professional Dungeon Masters.
The San Francisco based company has established an online platform to assist players in finding tabletop roleplaying games to join and lease professional Game Masters.
It may be a geeky business, but it says a lot that Andreessen Horowitz, one of the biggest game investors, chose to lead the round by his general partners Jonathan Lai and Andrew Chen.
The funds will be used to broaden marketing to reach new players, expand StartPlaying''s industry partnership, and hiring top talent. According to Nate Tucker, the CEO of StartPlaying, the company wants to double the teams'' size by the end of the year.
According to Tucker, we are investing in putting together a world-class team. We believe this will be the foundation for maintaining StartPlayings momentum.
According to Lai in a blog post, more than 40 million people playD&D around the globe and sales have increased by double-digitpercentages for the last five years. No longer a fringe hobby,D&D features prominently inmainstreamandcelebrityculture.
A16z'' investment in the platform predicts the integration of such games into the mainstream and the creation of a professional platform for skilled players.
According to Devon Chulick, the development of Game Masters and players, this is more about community. Whether it be assisting Game Masters and players in finding one another, or collaborating with industry partners, we were proud to have the opportunity to assemble people through the power of games.
StartPlaying has seen over 100,000 games hosted on the platform to earn $2.5 million and counting. StartPlaying''s continued growth highlights a demand for professional Game Masters and an evergreen interest in tabletop RPG games. Half of all new users who have joined StartPlaying have never played the game.
After years of commitment, the tabletop roleplaying community is at its best when its inclusive, according to Chulick. We want StartPlaying to continue to break down barriers for new players.
Players may play on any skill level with or without a group, depending on their genre, play style, whether it''s a one-and-done session, or a long-term campaign. StartPlaying is committed to keeping a large amount of time for all players.
According to Tucker, we are investing in assembling a world-class team. We believe this will be the key to maintaining StartPlayings momentum.
At the start of the epidemic, the origins of a common problem in March 2020.
Tucker said that my friend (Jared Gollhardt) and I had a problem finding a Game Master online to run a Dungeons and Dragons game for us. We stumbled across these two Discord channels, and they had a forum where we posted, which was awful. But we still fought to find one.
Two people were eventually discovered, one of whom completely disappeared. The other one asked them to submit a one-page document illustrating why the Game Master should take the job.
We decided not to do that because it was horrendously awkward. However, Tucker said, when COVID happened, things started. So we eventually called around a couple of people that had websites that used to do in-person, Dungeons & Dragons. We were pretty convinced we could do a better job of what was currently on the internet, including Discord and Reddit and custom forums.
Chulick, who is now known as the San Francisco Dungeon Master, became a cofounder as they decided to expand the company. Chulick himself had a list of 30 people who would handle Game Master duties. They eventually established a platform for matchmaking players into online gaming with training Game Masters in a wide range of games.
Tucker said that what payers pay for generally speaking is a good host. They need someone who coordinates the group, makes sure people are coming on time and is willing to handle the session. For the most part, people are simply paying for a nice courteous host to go ahead and assist them in playing these games and run these games.
The company was established in the early stages of its operations and initially provided a platform for groups of players. Nevertheless, they needed to keep pace.
The team has now grown to six people. Most players who come to the site come as single individuals, looking to both learn and find others to play with.
According to Tucker, we were required to rethink everything we were doing in response to this notion of people coming as individuals, forming them together in groups, and then connecting them with Game Masters.
They raised money in a small angel round and ended their journey. Most players enjoy the sessions for two to four hours. Teams will engage in events that last for several sessions or days. Some of the events can even last for hundreds of sessions.
Today, around 600 Game Masters players are playing on the site on a weekly basis. Many of them play D&D, but they have expanded beyond that. Some people just enjoy watching Twitch streams. Game Masters set their own price of $15 or $20 per person per session.
According to Tucker, the vast majority of people are playing online.
The commitment was enough to entice investors.