Penrose Studios, the virtual-reality startup founded by former Oculus VR exec Eugene Chung, announced that it has raised $8.5 million in seed-round funding.
The financing was led by Accelerate-IT Ventures (AITV), with participation from TransLink Capital, Suffolk Equity and 8 Angel. Several angel investors also contributed to the round. Penrose said it will use the funding to create new VR and augmented-reality experiences as well as expand its team of engineers and artists.
“This is a pivotal moment for us,” said Chung, founder and CEO of Penrose Studios. “We’ve come a long way from the early stages of this new medium. Today’s announcement marks a milestone for the industry as well as our studio.”
San Francisco-based Penrose Studios has developed a unique approach to VR storytelling through hand-crafted visuals. Its first project, “The Rose and I,” was featured at the Sundance and Tribeca film festivals. The studio’s second piece, “Allumette” (pictured above), will premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in April.
Additionally, the studio released an app for the Samsung Gear VR called Rose, currently available in the Oculus Store. Content from Penrose Studios will be available for the consumer versions of the Sony PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.
“We’ve had our eye on the virtual reality industry for some time, and Penrose is creating something special in AR and VR,” AITV general partner Bill Malloy III said in a statement. “We want to see their work be taken to its fullest potential, and we look forward to watching what they do and supporting them along the way as VR continues to gain momentum in the technology and entertainment industries.”
In addition to the funding, Penrose Studios announced that Brad Allen, executive chairman of NextVR, will join Penrose as a strategic adviser. He joins filmmaker and producer Roman Coppola, who has been advising Penrose in a creative capacity.