Economic Development, Small Business & Startups, and Technology

Video game company wins big funding at Start Garden Update Night

October 2, 2012
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Of the nine ideas presented during Start Garden’s Update Night Thursday, only one received a yes to move on to a higher level of funding

Hip Shot Dot, a video game technology company created by Tim Murphy and Brandon Buckingham, jumped from a $5,000 investment to a $50,000 investment overnight, skipping the seed fund’s $20,000 level.

“Normally, we’d start at $20,000, but with this one the marketplace is a bit more clear,” said Paul Moore, Start Garden marketing director. “Really, what we’re trying to fund is their first production run. $20,000 wasn’t going to get them the inventory they really need. We really felt it was time to see if this could get very big very fast. “

The idea of Hip Shot Dot is to create a red-dot sight for a gamer’s TV or monitor to help them aim while playing first person shooter games such as “Call of Duty.” The red dot would be a cross-platform accessory.

Several companies presented updates to Start Garden after receiving an initial investment: Detroit Glass, Teamwork Bags, Growing Health Farms, Vival iOS Application, Rita Girls Mobile Bakery, Gent, This or That and Flowstate.

Each presenter was allowed three minutes to explain their hypothesis, experiment, what they’ve done so far and what’s next. This or That, Flowstate and Teamwork Bags all received tracking responses from the fund. They will not receive additional funding yet, but will still be considered for future assistance and funding from Start Garden.

“We’re going to invest in 100 ideas in a year, so the ones that actually play out for us not only have to make money as a business, but have to make enough money to make up for all the ones that don’t make it,” said Mike Morin, Start Garden investment analyst. “You might have a perfectly good business . . . but it’s probably not going to ever get the kind of return we need as venture capitalists . . . We need not like 8 percent; for the stuff we’re doing -- for the ones that win -- we need (about) one hundred times our money back to make the kind of funding we’re doing work.”

The Update Night was the first one at the fund’s new downtown facility at 50 Louis St. The space, which offers memberships, is described as a clubhouse for entrepreneurs where the fund hosts classes, events and meetings.

Start Garden, the brainchild of ArtPrize founder Rick DeVos, uses a $15 million seed fund to get new ideas into the marketplace by incrementally investing in a for-profit idea, starting at $5,000. Two ideas are selected weekly: one by the Start Garden team and one by the public. If selected, the entrepreneurs get two months to develop their ideas before they must report back in person on Update Night.

For those deemed promising, funding could continue at $20,000, $50,000, $100,000 or even a $500,000 level. Hip Shot Dot is now at the second highest level of funding so far, with only Nxt Mile reaching the $60,000 level.

DeVos launched the fund in April along with its website where the ideas are submitted and voted on by the community. In its first week of competition, Start Garden had 250 ideas, 20,000 visitors, 136,000 page views and more than 1,800 endorsements.

“Since April, $570,000 has already been invested,” Moore said. “It snuck up on us very quickly.”

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