We are delighted to announce the completion of our investment in Labworks, where we led their £500k seed round. We look forward to welcoming Tom Hewitson and his team to the RLC Ventures portfolio and are very excited to be partnering with them for the long-term.
Where did we find this deal?
We were first introduced to Tom at the London and Partners Growth Accelerator, where Reece, founding partner of RLC Ventures is a mentor.
What is Labworks?
Labworks are Europe’s leading voice games studio for Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant; with over 8 million people playing their games in 17 different countries. Their impressive traction has also been met with disciplined capital efficiency.
Labworks has created several games for play via the Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice assistants. It is probably best known for Would You Rather and Trivia Hero. All of its games offer premium extras for a price, but the new model will let users play the full versions of the games for $0.99 a month.
This subscription service, called Voice Arcade, enables users who subscribe to play all of the games available for as long as they desire.
Labworks lies right at the centre of voice gaming and voice app monetisation. These two concepts are on the rise as Amazon and Google both work to encourage their voice app developer communities to find ways to monetise their creations. Amazon has been particularly aggressive as it adds the option for monetisation to more countries and offers incentives to developers who create premium purchase and subscription options.
Who is behind it?
Tom Hewitson (CEO) - is a software engineer, with previous roles at Facebook and Government digital services. He is an experienced designer with expertise in the voice space.
The team has a strong pedigree in the voice and content space, with Tom boasting a strong creative and professional track record at companies such as Facebook, Telegraph Media Group and Lonely Planet. He is listed as #9 in ‘100 People to Watch’ by Chatbots Magazine. Their newly appointed COO Fiona Morgan joined in January from the BBC, where she led the Voice & AI team.
Founder & CEO of RLC Ventures Reece Chowdhry comments:
“After spending some time with Tom, and hearing about his vision for the future of voice, we very quickly became aligned with his mission to lead an ambitious business at the forefront of a developing ecosystem.”
Traction to date
Labworks was founded on the viral success of its voice games in 2016. The company’s games have now been played more than five million times on smart speakers worldwide. The new funding, which Hewitson described as pre-seed, is aimed at setting up the company for the subscription service and future expansion.
While still an early-stage venture, they have been profitable across all three years and deservedly have been nominated for the “Startup Of The Year Award” by London & Partners in January 2020.
Labworks are a Webby award winning voice games studio based in London and Lithuania and we have a simple mission: to make Voice fun!
Smart speakers are on track to sell over 200 million units by the end of this year, and this number is expected to grow to 500 million by 2023 according to Canalys. At this rate, more smart speakers will be sold annually than tablets in 2021. Latest figures suggest that smart speakers are now owned by one in six American households, and ownership has doubled in the UK with a smart speaker occupying 10% of all households in the past six months.
Focusing on the gaming category, the number of people who play a game on a monthly basis consists of 35% of all smart speaker owners. The gaming industry is also on the rise, currently valued at $138bn and expected to grow significantly in the coming years.
RLC Ventures are leading this round with participation from other gaming and media angel investors
Tom has selected Special Effect as his Charity.
"As a prominent member of the Gaming community it gives the Labworks team great joy to support Special Effect, a charity that focus on helping the disabled have fun through playing video games. Our partnership with RLC is made that much sweeter knowing our success will be shared with the Special Effect organisation." - Tom Hewitson, CEO of Labworks
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