SAN FRANCISCO, March 19, 2019 — Dorian, a San Francisco-based company developing a new immersive fiction app to deliver interactive storytelling for the next generation of readers, announced today that it has raised $2 million in a Seed funding round from industry leading game-focused investors. This round was led by March Capital Partners, with participation from London Venture Partners (LVP) and more. Dorian aims to take the experience of storytelling to the next level by building the future of fiction-based interactive media for mobile. Immersive storytelling is a rapidly growing category and the funding will give the Dorian team the ability to deliver multiple stories for different audiences, with the first focus on millennial and Gen Z women.
“Dorian was started by women in leadership roles which helps us create stories that feature erse and authentic female role-models that are scarce in interactive entertainment and particularly in games,” said Julia Palatovska, CEO, Dorian. “When we talk to players, we hear that young women are tired of the Cinderella stories that still dominate content for women. Dorian will give players control over their inidual storyline, the opportunity to connect with like-minded people and the chance to express themselves through meaningful choices that make a difference.”
As storytelling is a social activity by definition, Dorian works on a new take of the choose-your-own adventure category that allows players to collaborate and make choices together. This move from traditional fiction to interactive fiction with users taking the driving seat mirrors recent shifts in television, film, art, and theater, driven by the generation of users who grew up building content in such games as Minecraft and Roblox and don’t want to be passive consumers. Dorian’s product will not only let users make decisions in interactive non-linear digital stories, similar to what audiences experienced in Black Mirror: Bandersnatch by Netflix, but also enjoy deep social collaboration with their friends and families.
“Dorian identified a generation shift in content consumption habits and aims to build a platform to reach both underserved female audience and the next generation of content creators,” said Gregory Milken, Managing Director, March Capital Partners. “Being attuned to their audience has given Julia and her team an advantage in creating an app that will make them leaders in the interactive digital fiction space.”
For the past 10 years, women have made up nearly 50% of people who play games in the United States, especially on mobile devices. Yet only around 20% of the professionals within the gaming industry are female. This leads to the lack of female-friendly content, with most games being built by men and for men, which was one of the main motivations behind starting Dorian.
Dorian is led by game industry professionals with many years of experience in mobile games and entertainment. CEO Julia Palatovska most recently worked at games-focused VC fund LVP now an investor in Dorian’s Seed Round, after helping build game publishing and content pipeline at mobile games publisher G5 Games that got publicly listed in the Nasdaq Stockholm. She teamed up with Jordan Lee, who has been in senior game engineering roles at multiple mobile game studios including Nexon M and Digital Chocolate, and Heather Logas, former game designer at Pixelberry, the studio behind one of the leading interactive fiction apps Choices: Stories You Play.
David Lau-Kee, General Partner at LVP adds: “We invest solely in the digital games industry because of our deep conviction that even the most traditional hobbies will be dominated by digital formats. Dorian’s focus on interactive storytelling and their strategy to build a new medium combining fiction with social gameplay appeals immensely, and the positive response from early users confirms Dorian’s ability to address a huge and often misunderstood audience.”
Other investors in the round include MTG (acquiror of ESL, InnoGames and Kongregate); Century Game, backer of Kakao Games; Joi Ito’s fund, Neoteny 4; and prominent angel investors in games: Jens Hilgers, known for co-founding ESL; Kevin Lin, Co-Founder of Twitch; Holly Liu, previously co-founder of Kabam and now a Visiting Partner at Y Combinator; and Jonathan Zweig, former founding CEO of AdColony and currently Co-Founder and CEO of AppOnboard.
Dorian is an early-stage startup that is building the future of immersive fiction. The company is led by an experienced team that worked on multi-million-dollar mobile game titles at Nexon, Pixelberry, G5 Games, and Digital Chocolate and is now on a mission to build a mixed media platform for enjoying interactive stories with friends.
About March Capital Partners
March Capital Partners is a Santa Monica-based venture capital firm with one of the largest global funds in Southern California. Founded by industry veterans with over 50 years of investing experience, March Capital is unique in the Southern California market with its active investments in both early and late-stage companies in mobile, enterprise, infrastructure, gaming and other growth industries. The majority of March Capital’s investments are with Southern California companies, with targeted positions in innovative global organizations. For more information, see www.marchcp.com.