Say Hello to the Future of Virtual Production:
Vu Technologies Founders Share Their Journey to $17 Million Seed Investment
“The dream is free. The hustle is sold separately.”
– Tim Moore, Vu Technologies Founder
What if you had the freedom to step outside the limits of the natural world, and into a completely virtual reality? What if you had ultimate creative freedom to define and modify lighting, camera movements, characters, and set design in the moment without being bound by the limits of your location?
Building The Stage
In that world, you could shift from a summer’s day to a raging blizzard in a single moment. You could film during the golden sunset hour any time of the day or night. You would never again be constrained by weather, seasons, or location.
That’s the world Vu Studio is building.
On May 12th, we had the privilege of hosting our exclusive Innovation Mixer at Vu Studio, where we talked with CFO Alliance clients and founders Tim Moore and Mark Swanson about their journey from startup to $17 million seed investment in less than two years.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to experience Vu Studio, it’s hard to imagine just how breathtakingly innovative this technology is. But even more impressive is Tim and Mark’s story about seizing an untapped opportunity in the middle of a pandemic, building groundbreaking technology from scratch, and changing the future of film.
CFO Alliance founder and CEO, Brooke Evans, asked Tim and Mark to share their story with our guests, and we’re still inspired by the mindsets, thought processes, and creative energy that put Vu Studio on the map. You can listen to the full conversation as the inaugural episode of our brand-new podcast, “Hello, Founder.”
Here are our top takeaways from the evening.
1: Look for the opportunities in down markets.
Vu Studio was born out of a pandemic-driven need to create a new business model very quickly. At the time, Tim served clients across the country through his film company, Diamond View. When travel restrictions, shutdowns, and supply chain shortages sent businesses into a tailspin in March of 2020, 80% of Tim’s business dried up immediately. That’s when he knew he had a choice to make.
“During the pandemic you could go out of business doing all the right things, so you might as well take a chance. We decided to bet our entire business on LED.” – Tim
It was what authors W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne call a “Blue Ocean Strategy.” Tim and Mark saw an opportunity to do something no one else was doing. They poured everything they had into that space, and it paid off big.
The takeaway: Even when everything seems to be spiraling out of control, there are opportunities for innovation, vision, and growth.
2: First mover advantage can’t be underestimated. Speed and agility are essential.
Vu Studio was the first virtual reality studio to focus on large products in the commercial market. That was the “blue ocean.” They soon realized the opportunity was bigger than they thought, and it had long-term potential for growth and expansion.
“The second you realize the competition is slower than you, the strategy should be to move as quickly as you can. We decided we were going to launch ourselves to the moon, and we would either get there or explode.” – Tim
By late 2020, Vu Studio had the fourth largest LED volume in the world, and they began getting dozens of calls every month about purchasing the technology.
The takeaway: When you see that you have captured a segment of the market, it’s time to run fast.
3: Growth and investment require great financials.
When your business is growing quickly, every component has to accelerate at the same time. It’s not enough to have a great idea. You also need clean financials, structured roles and responsibilities, efficient processes, and clear metrics. Mark’s initial assessment of Vu Studio indicated that a lot of work needed to be done on the financial side of the company before any discussion of investment funding could take place.
“We realized that the opportunity was bigger than we thought, and we were also spending more than we thought. If we were going to have real clients, we needed sophisticated systems, operations, and teams, and we needed to mobilize quickly.” – Mark
Mark reached out to CFO Alliance for assistance, and a partnership was born that positioned Vu Studio for a record-breaking $17 million seed funding round.
The takeaway: Growth must go hand-in-hand with solid financial systems, processes, and strategies.
4: Successful fundraising depends on telling the right story.
A huge part of Vu Studio’s fundraising success can be attributed to building momentum through their company’s story while building financial momentum at the same time. Vu Studio differs from other pandemic-related business models in that it was built to sustain itself even after the pressure cooker conditions of the pandemic began to resolve.
“We needed to get the story in front of the results. There were compelling business reasons to use this technology even after the pandemic.” – Mark
To demonstrate the potential of the technology, Tim and Mark asked investors to come to the studio and see it in action for themselves. They intuitively knew that once investors saw what the studio could do, it would be impossible for them not to feel inspired.
The takeaway: Give investors the confidence that you have what it takes to succeed, generate profit, and grow over the long-term.
The dream is free, but the hustle is sold separately.
We see innovative founders in Tampa and across the country hustling every day, pouring their energy into groundbreaking ideas that will change the way we live our lives both now and in the future.
These founders are our clients and friends, and we’re inspired by their stories.That’s why we’re launching a brand-new podcast to share more of them with our network..
“Hello Founder!” will tell the stories of people and companies that are changing the world with breakthrough technology, business models, service offerings, and more. It’s our way of giving back to the awesome community of innovative founders we’re proud to call our friends and neighbors. We hope you’ll join us!
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