Estonian storyhacking platform launches with USD10 million funding

Estonian-founded storyhacking platform Whatifi has launched with USD10 million in funding, led by Andreessen Horowitz; the company is providing a new way to watch movies on one’s phone with one’s friends.

“Whatifi unlocks the ability to discuss, debate and decide what happens next in the movies you watch with friends and family, offering dozens of plotlines, character arcs and endings,” the company said in a statement.

“Each Whatifi film is broken down into short segments. At key turning points, the watch party is presented with a dilemma and must make a decision. If the group doesn’t vote unanimously, they can jump into the built-in chat feature to discuss. Choice matters, as every decision completely changes the outcome of the story – nothing is inconsequential.”

The two films at launch (“Anatomy of a Decision” and “As Dead as it Gets”) offer a combined 80 different endings and storylines to explore. More films and other content will be continuously released starting later this year, the company said.

Whatifi was born out of the founders’ love for interactive theatre.

Fusing traditional streaming with interactivity

The USD10 million funding led by Andreessen Horowitz with participation from Matrix Partners. The company is also backed by leaders in entertainment and technology, including David Wells (ex-CFO of Netflix), Ilkka Paananen (Supercell), Max Levchin (Paypal, Affirm), Marc Pincus (Zynga), Michael Birch (Bebo), Taavet Hinrikus (Transferwise), Josh Hannah (Betfair) and Jon McNeill (Tesla, Lyft).

“Whatifi fuses the lean-back and isolated experience of traditional streaming with the interactivity of gaming, and immerses it in social interaction,” Jaanus Juss, a co-founder of the startup, said. “It’s a new entertainment category that defines how the next generation will entertain themselves. For the first time, you and your friends are in the director’s chair, debating and calling the shots together.”

The startup was born out of Juss and Hardi Meybaum’s love for interactive theatre. “They took what had been perfected on the stage and brought it to mobile. The main takeaway: people find far more fun and meaning in a story when they have a role in steering, engaging and debating it with others,” the company asserted.

“Whatifi’s format also opens new frontiers for filmmakers who can now create dynamic narratives that traditional story formats do not permit,” it added.

In Estonia, Jaanus Juss is known as the founder of Telliskivi Creative City, a trendy area near the Tallinn city centre. Hardi Meybaum became known as the founder of GrabCAD – a startup that was sold for around USD100 million to a US-Israeli company, Stratasys Ltd, in 2014. It is so far the second biggest startup exit for an Estonian startup and the biggest for Estonian seed investors.

Images courtesy of Whatifi.

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