Austin-based mobile dance competition app launches with $1.9 million in funding

Posted on 08/26/2020 by Austin Chamber of Commerce

  • Virtual Arts Inc. has raised $1.9 Million in funding for its mobile competition platform, DanceFight.

DanceFight is built on a proprietary competition platform that will enable the company to expand to all forms of competition content including singing, comedy, rap, cheerleading, basketball trick shots, skateboarding, other action sports, and more. Like TikTok and Instagram’s new “Reels”, you can scroll through trending short-form dance videos. Unlike TikTok, or any other social app in the market, the US-based DanceFight is all about fun competition where dancer videos are shown side-by-side, the community votes for their favorites, and winners are crowned.

DanceFight brings together the social video world with a gamelike experience with all sorts of competition features such as leaderboards and in-game rewards for creators and voters alike. Also, the app makes it easy for dancers to send challenges directly to one or multiple friends, whether on or off the platform. In this way, the app users naturally become the app promoters.

DanceFight was almost immediately listed in the App Store’s coveted “Apps We Love” carousel.

The company is actively collaborating with music artists and the major record labels Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, and Universal Music Group to line up dance challenges on the DanceFight app. For dancers, this means access to millions of songs – the newest, the hottest and the dance classics – to create or join the next trending challenge. Investors include Quake Capital Partners, Sound Media Ventures, VSCO’s CEO and co-founder Joel Flory, and Thunderstruck Dance Competitions. Investment proceeds will be used to introduce DanceFight in the Google Play Store soon, and to expand internationally in Q4.

Virtual Arts is led by co-founders Ryan Jordan and Rich Sloan, each experienced venture leaders with roots in consumer mobile apps, music-tech ventures, and catering to a Gen-Z user base.

“We’re thrilled with the response during our soft launch and are focused on providing a really fun experience that’s also safe and inclusive to ensure our young users are protected at a whole new level,” said Jordan.

To that end, DanceFight has partnered with artificial intelligence company Hive AI whose leading-edge content moderation platform has been integrated to block any inappropriate content from going live on the app. DanceFight has also opted to exclude features where bullying typically occurs, like commenting and direct messaging. This has significantly reduced the potential for harassment of community members.

The focus on inclusivity and safety has been a priority from day one as the idea originated from Jordan’s time as Executive Director of the Austin-based Amala Foundation where he witnessed the connecting power of music and dance firsthand.

“We would unite youth from more than 20 countries for a week at a time, and although we didn’t speak the same language, as soon as we rolled out the instruments and drums, the dancing started, walls came down and we were able to connect in a way that didn’t require any words.”

Jordan and fellow co-founder Rich Sloan are excited about the response so far.

“Our users are returning to DanceFight an average of five times each day. That’s a really strong indicator that they’re loving the experience and wanting more. And some of the best competition features are yet to come,” Sloan added.

The company recently added several team members including former Perk CTO Blake Gardner, former Head of Growth for Pandora Ben Rose, and Norma Ventura, a former Creative Strategist at Khoros. Virtual Arts plans to add 20+ Austin-based team members over the next 12 months and will stand up offices at Vuka. Virtual Arts is also a member of this year’s MassChallenge cohort.

About Virtual Arts: The venture-backed mobile app company Virtual Arts Inc. has created the world’s first mobile competition platform for skill-based, head-to-head video competition. The company is focusing initially on Gen-Z and dance, but will rapidly expand to support all forms of competition content, including singing, comedy, rap, cheerleading, basketball trick shots, skateboarding, other action sports and more.

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