Jonathan and his team have been bootstrapping AEXLAB since 2015 when they began providing VR technology services for concerts, museums, and experiences for companies like Red Bull. They honed their vision and technology by seeing multiple different use cases across industries in those early days.
After months of trying to raise money from traditional venture capitalists, they realized that most investors were out of tune with the realities of the virtual reality market.
A majority of the venture capitalists they talked to had never played a virtual reality game or even worn a headset. They didn't understand the gap between VR hardware and VR software.
So Jonathan had to find another route.
AEXLAB already had a dedicated community of thousands of gamer supporters, some even being top e-sport players. They thought crowdfunding could be a perfect option since the gaming community could be both users and shareholders.
They used an increasingly-popular equity crowdfunding platform called StartEngine which unlocks startup investing for just about any U.S. citizen. This type of equity crowdfunding is commonly called "Reg CF" and has been gaining attention since regulatory changes now allow for up to $5 million in funding through this method.
As of writing this, AEXLAB has crowdfunded $870,000 in just 4 weeks. Jonathan expects to hit its goal of $1 million soon.
About the Shrimp: Jonathan Ovadia
Growing up, Jonathan was always interested in technology and gaming. He was born and raised in Miami where he cut his teeth as a scrappy entrepreneur building tee shirt brands and hosting events.
While studying entrepreneurship at The University of Miami, he felt that the class projects lacked real-world exposure.
He decided to put his talents towards a real venture instead of class projects. With a passion for gaming and eyes on the future of VR, he launched AEXLAB with his brother Albert Ovadia and partner Elizabeth Ann Clark in 2015.
The first time I put on a VR headset, I knew this was going to change the world. - Jonathan Ovadia
For the Ovadia brothers, it's simple: Miami is home. They want to see this city become one of the great tech hubs of the world.
AEXLAB just moved into a larger office in Brickell. They are building out a studio area in order to host e-sport competitions, events, and immersive studio visits.
When asked about the challenges of building their company in Miami, Jonathan mentioned that he couldn't find a community of young tech founders to collaborate with. Recently, he's found that community here at The Shrimp Society. 🦐
AEXLAB: Industry-leading Technology for VR Gaming
AEXLAB is a virtual reality technology & gaming company. They have developed a franchise game called VAIL, which is an immersive multiplayer first-person shooter.
Think Call of Duty in VR.
What makes VAIL different is the immersive avatar-based experience and its social & e-sports features.
Why is this important? E-sports and streaming are huge, growing industries.
Call of Duty averages hundreds of thousands of streamers every day. And the e-sports prize pool was $6 million. That's more than the player pool bonus for winning the NBA Championship.
VAIL is positioned for an e-sports future.
A notable achievement is a partnership secured with Steam. Steam is one of the largest marketplaces & community for video games. It has 22 million members and at any given moment it shows over 5 million people are playing games on Steam.
You can currently request access to VAIL on Steam.
They've also created licensable VR technology. This is a "picks and shovels" approach to the growing VR industry with enterprise licensing opportunities like:
Military & police training
Enterprise applications (Entertainment, real estate. and more)
Our systems currently include solutions for haptics, audio spatialization, firearm simulation, virtual reality human interfaces, and real-time social and gaming networking technology. - Jonathan Ovadia
The AEXLAB team of 8 is full of experienced engineers and creative technical designers. With this fundraising, they will be aggressively growing the engineering team here in South Florida.
The Equity Crowdfund
Equity crowdfunding allows everyday investors to invest in startups just like angel investors and venture capitalists. This was made possible when the SEC passed Regulation Crowdfunding in 2016. A few weeks ago, Reg CF was amended to allow for equity crowdfunding up to $5 million (previously a $1.07 million limit).
AEXLAB set out to raise $1.07 million at a $12 million pre-money valuation at the beginning of March. This comes in the form of Class A Common Stock worth $6.oo/share at purchase. Non-accredited investors can invest a minimum of $102 and a maximum investment of $2,200 or 5% of annual income. There are also a host of incentives to invest offered by AEXLAB at certain investment thresholds.
AEXLAB was in a great position to crowdfund because of the engaged community that support VAIL and the technology they are building.
The crowdfund allowed these gamers to actually invest and impact the future of the company. This is such a forward-thinking way to fund a technology company where the users are also the shareholders.
In our opinion, equity crowdfunding is positioned for massive growth in the next decade.
How can we help?
Let's help Jonathan and his team at AEXLAB have success here in Miami. Here's what you can do:
Since this is equity crowdfund, you can help by investing!
The Shrimp Fund put our money where our mouth is. We're #MiamiTech invested 🦐
Looking to hire top-tier engineering talent
AEXLAB is looking to hire locally for:
Unreal Engine software engineers
Technical Art programmers
Experienced C++ Engineers
Reach out to Jonathan at email@example.com if you can help.