The Company’s $7.5M Seed Round Includes Funding from Tom Conrad, Shiva Rajaraman, Scott Belsky, Abbe Raven, Joshua Kushner, Live Nation, AB InBev, and more
LOS ANGELES – July 12, 2018 – Octi, an augmented video company leveraging machine learning and computer vision to make your world more interactive, announced today that it has entered into a strategic investment and partnership with the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) via its athlete-driven accelerator, the OneTeam Collective. The partnership will enable fans to create videos where they interact with NFL player avatars. Octi will create and commercially distribute avatars for more than 2,000 active NFL players.
Octi also announced a seed round of $7.5M with participation from Shasta Ventures, I2BF Ventures, Bold Capital Partners, Day One Ventures, Human Ventures, Live Nation, and AB InBev. A host of industry leaders also joined the round including Tom Conrad, former VP of Product at Snap Inc.; Shiva Rajaraman, Chief Product Officer of Technology at WeWork; Scott Belsky, Chief Product Officer of Adobe; Abbe Raven, Chairman at A&E Networks; and Joshua Kushner.
The company’s first app, also entitled Octi, allows users to augment themselves, their friends, and their worlds. It uses the human body as a new medium for an evolution of storytelling, just as GIFs, emojis, and face filters once revolutionized mobile communication. Octi’s proprietary skeleton mapping and gesture detection technology uses a smartphone camera to recognize the human body without additional sensors and automatically overlays contextual 3D effects, allowing users to be anyone — or anywhere — with their friends. The technology recognizes what’s happening in real time with a human body, interprets gestures, and understands spatially where a person sits in a room or scene.
“The Octi platform offers an entirely new ability to amplify human interaction and communication through a simple smartphone camera,” said Justin Fuisz, CEO and Cofounder of Octi Inc. “What makes Octi special is that we’re building our technology to reflect the ways that humans have always expressed themselves through gestures and physicality.”
The company plans to use the funding to continue building out its team of computer vision scientists, researchers, and machine learning engineers. The new round will also enable Octi to pursue integrations of its proprietary augmented video technology by third-party companies and mobile applications across industries such as fitness, gaming, and fashion.
“The team at Octi has built an impressive suite of capabilities based on their unique ability to capture and augment humans and other objects within the camera,” said Tom Conrad, former VP of Product at Snap Inc. “There’s a wide range of compelling applications of this technology in the consumer space and beyond. I’m excited to help this team realize that potential.”
Octi won the top prize in player marketing and consulting at the NFLPA’s OneTeam Collective Pitch Day in Minneapolis in January 2018. The Pitch Day featured ten companies that sought funding, consulting and access to group licensing rights, selected from more than 400 applications. The selection process was managed by the NFLPA with input from its OneTeam Collective athlete advisory board — which includes current and retired NFL players — as well as executives from OneTeam Collective founding partners, BlackRock, Harvard Innovation Lab, Intel Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, LeadDog Marketing Group, Madrona Venture Group and Sports Innovation Lab.
“The NFLPA and the OneTeam Collective are constantly looking to collaborate with the newest consumer technologies, and we were impressed by Octi’s team and the new platform they have built to change the way we communicate through video. Octi’s mobile AR technology creates a wide range of opportunities for players and fans. We are incredibly excited about our investment and partnership with Octi,” said Ahmad Nassar, President of NFL Players Inc. and Chairman of the Board of the OneTeam Collective.
Octi is the seventh NFLPA partner secured through the OneTeam Collective, which is designed to give innovative companies the opportunity to leverage the NFLPA’s exclusive group player rights, in exchange for equity.
“Octi represents a leap forward as a technology platform by empowering the camera to understand full body movement and gestures. I’m excited to see the range of fun and meaningful interactions that arise from this new capability,” said Shiva Rajaraman, Chief Product Officer of Technology at WeWork.
Octi is a company of computer vision scientists, researchers and machine learning engineers making everything in your world interactive. The company’s flagship mobile application, OCTI, allows users to augment themselves, their friends, and their worlds by using the human body as a new medium for communication. Octi was founded by Justin Fuisz, an award-winning entrepreneur in the augmented video and computer vision industries, and Drew Martin, a serial entrepreneur with extensive experience in operating video-centric companies. Octi is headquartered in Los Angeles. For more information, please visit http://www.octi.tv/.
About the NFL Players Association
The National Football League Players Association is the union for professional football players in the National Football League. Established in 1956, the NFLPA has a long history of assuring proper recognition and representation of players’ interests. The NFLPA has shown that it will do whatever is necessary to assure that the rights of players are protected—including ceasing to be a union, if necessary, as it did in 1989. In 1993, the NFLPA again was officially recognized as the union representing the players and negotiated a landmark Collective Bargaining Agreement with the NFL. The current CBA will govern the sport through 2020.
About NFL Players Inc.
NFL Players Inc., the licensing and marketing arm of the NFLPA, connects businesses to the power of NFL players. NFL Players Inc. creates customized business solutions for partners, through licensing, marketing strategy, and player activations. For more information, please visit nflpa.com/players.
About the OneTeam Collective
The OneTeam Collective is the first athlete-driven business accelerator for innovative companies seeking to incorporate sports strategies to drive growth. OneTeam Collective is comprised of founding partners, the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), BlackRock, Harvard Innovation Lab, Intel, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, LeadDog Marketing Group, Madrona Venture Group and Sports Innovation Lab. The Collective offers access to the NFLPA’s brightest stars via licensing, marketing and content rights, research and development, funding and mentorship for product development and marketing support. OneTeam Collective, which features an Athlete Advisory Board, will be the first program providing rights to sports-related intellectual property, highlighted by the NFLPA’s exclusive group licensing rights and unparalleled access to more than 2,000 current NFL players. Prospective companies can apply to participate and submit their application at www.oneteamcollective.com.