We may be more digitally connected than ever, according to research, people are feeling lonelier than ever. It can be especially difficult for people in the so-called otaku groups around them. It has become mainstream.
Former software engineer Andy Bauch Mortyan online network where otaku can find the best otaku cultural activities, connect with others, and chronicle their adventures together, from escape rooms and haunted attractions to immersive theater.
Bauch describes Morty as “a real home to help people get out behind screens and come together in real life (IRL), like Reddit and Discord.” Initially, he focused on the escape room market, but is now looking to other activities and pastimes. Having collected seed-level investment, he wants to expand in the US and internationally.
He had previously worked at Disney and a few early-stage startups, and it was his passion. geeky lego creations Inspired by geeks and pop culture, commissioned by celebrities like Miley Cyrus and Beyoncé.
“We did some interactive shows, including six weeks at the Getty Villa in Los Angeles, and did huge productions over and over again with hundreds of people,” he says. “It was art on a gigantic scale and it made me realize how much people want to get together. I want the experience, and it made me think about what else a geeky type like me would be spending money on.”
In 2020, he started plotting, initially focusing on escape rooms. Then Covid hit. But conceptually, he was so passionate about the idea that he continued to work with his co-founder Karlis Lapsins during the pandemic. By late 2021, Morty will be in beta, and Bauch has also raised seed funding from his General Catalyst and his ANIMO Ventures.
“Venture capital can ignite many new industries, but investors are also known to have a herd mentality and follow what others are investing in. IRL was not cool at the time. It was,” says Bauch. “We were lucky to find a great investor who sees the loneliness epidemic as huge.”
The network has seen strong traction since it launched in the app stores last May. “Morty has all the escape rooms he has in over 30 countries,” Bauch says. “People love that we let them find each other and do what they love.
The first escape room players Morty found in Southern California quickly proved to be an effective bridge to other communities, including board gamers and Comic-Con goers. This prompted Bauch to develop plans to expand across the United States and beyond, monetizing within escape rooms and expanding into other areas such as arcades, immersive art, immersive theater, speakeasies and bars.
“Marketplaces are probably the best way to monetize,” says Bauch. “We make about $500,000 in bookings each month to get rooms out of our users. People can now access Morty via apps and the web. , there is a win-win revenue model between ourselves, Escape Room Players and Escape Room Creators due to some added value we provide.”
The Morty community is growing, and Bauch’s vision to strengthen it is to create more interactive in-app content and gamification that allows members to earn experience points and compete against each other.
One of the exciting developments is the ‘unbundling’ of the theme park model. This will spawn small interactive attractions in small locations around the world. For example, Universal is planning a horror experience in Las Vegas and a theme park for families with young children in the Dallas suburb of Frisco.
More importantly, the barriers to building Disney-class interactive experiences have been removed. he said: Today, it can be done on a relatively small budget. Disney Imagineering recognizes trends. Universal is opening smaller theme parks and is also recognizing the trend. Ultimately, they can’t compete with individuals who can open cool stuff anywhere. We are excited about the future because it is about connecting. ”