Posts Tagged ‘Scott Hassan’

Secret Builders lands an additional $2.3M in funding

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Announced late last Friday, kid focused virtual world Secret Builders has recently secured $2.3M in new funding.

Initially launched in December of 2008, Secret Builders is doing seemingly well in a ‘what what as the time’ highly competitive market. They’ve organically grown the online destination to over 1 million users, and currently see 350k – 400k unique monthly visitors from around the world. One of the keys to Secret Builder’s success has been the interaction and cooperation from educators around the world. Since Secret Builders focus is placed primarily on education through fun, approximately 800 schools participate in the virtual world.

“We’ve weathered a tough time in the market,” Khan said via VentureBeat. “Spending money to get users was a good way to go out of business. Now the investors are looking for traction and your long-term success in attracting users.”

Based on the free-to-play/microtransactions business model, Secret World players can play as much as they want without charge. However, if players would like to do so, they can purchase a virtual currency in exchange for real-world money in order to purchase virtual goods and decorations for their home.

What’s more – the company is now also offering a white-label version of their own software, thereby making it easy for advertisers to simply adopt a world from Secret Builders, rather than sink million of dollars into developing their own virtual world.

The average Secret Builders play is between 8 – 12 years of age, logs in approximately 3 times per week, and spends roughly 30 minutes playing.

To date, Secret World has raised over $4M and staffs 24 employees. Investors include The Entrepreneurs Fund; Michael Tanne, CEO of Adforce; David Jeseke, former director of applications at Google; Sheila Marcelo, CEO of Care.com; Carl Page, co-founder of eGroups; John Welch, CEO of Making Fun; Sohaib Abbasi, CEO of Informatica; Scott Hassan, co-founder of eGroups and founding team member at Google; Carlos Cashman, founder and CEO of CourseAdvisors, and Ken Morse, a professor at the MIT Sloan School and co-founder of 3Com.

 

New concept virtual world SecretBuilders seeks to engage and educate

Friday, December 5th, 2008

In case you missed it a few weeks back, it looks like Google’s attempt at a virtual world competitor to SecondLife: Lively, wasn’t so lively at all, and is about to go down the tubes.  While it’s a sad day anytime we hear of a game/world/concept go sayonara, how’s that expression go…there’s a silver lining in Tokyo?  Or something like that.

Now entering the ring in the white corner, weighing in with StoneSoup magazine and The Huffington Post, hailing from Northern Californiahhhh…..Secretbuilders!

SecretBuilders is another new entry to the virtual world sector – but with a new an innovative twist.  Specifically not targeting the Lively/SecondLife demographic of 30-40 somethings, SecretBuilders is aimed at the 7-14 year old market, thereby putting it in the same pot as Club Penguin and ZooKazoo, an already boiling hot market.  eMarketer places 53% of all kids involved in one virtual world or another (or several) by 2011.

But hold up there Mr. Naysayer.  SecretBuilders has an interesting twist.  Fun AND education.  Players can create their own 2D avatar and play approximately 30 mini-games throughout the different areas of the virtual world.  Kids can talk to each other within the world with offensive language filters in place.  Nothing new to see here, but….this is where things get interesting.  Let’s say a player approaches a man by the name of Galileo and wants to talk to him.  Here they can find out a number of things regarding Galileo, when he lived, what he’s famous for, etc.  His profile will also reflect these teaching tools.  Likewise, players can create pictures via their mouse cursor, but what they may not realize is that they’re painting over, or mimicking a painting done by a famous artist – learning tools included.  The world also includes a plethora of writing and art contests to enter, a kids magazine and room customization/personalization tools.

So far we’ve got a new Virtual World with an innovative concept – but how about some support?  Well getting a nod from Arianna Huffington at The Huffington Post isn’t a bad way to start.  On December 10th, SecretBuilders will launch a contest titled “Dear Mr. President” where users can submit a photo including a caption addressed to president-elect Barack Obama.  The Huffington Post will publish the winning entry on President’s Day.

The site membership is free for now, but plans to introduce premium subscriptions and microtransactions in the coming future.  SecretBuilders is open to product placement and in-game advertising, and currently has join ventures with Art in Action, The Monterey Bay Aquarium, WildPlanet Toy Company, and StoneSoup Magazine.

This new entry to the virtual world space is the brainchild of Umair Khan, who founded the company in January 2007.  14 programmers based in Bulgaria also support the Menlo Park based team of 7 US programmers.  After a short testing phase of only a couple of months, the world now has approximately 5000 members in 27 countries around the world – all via word of mouth marketing.

Khan has raised $2.4M in tow rounds of funding via Angel investors Scott Hassan of eGroups and a founding member of Google, Carlos Cashman founder and CEO of CourseAdvisors, and Ken Morse, co-founder of 3Com, Aspen Technologies, and professor at the MIT Sloan School.

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