Divr Labs originally developed virtual reality games for computers, but then shifted their focus to public gaming, for which startups also create content. An example is the 3D Golem experience game in virtual reality, which works at the Hamleys toy store in Prague.
Divr Labs also runs other branches and has created other games such as Dinosaurs or Arachnoid. They have one of the establishments in Dubai. The Czech startup will use Křetínský’s investment to expand to other countries, and will soon open outlets in London and Stockholm.
“We rank virtual reality together with e-sports, in which we are already present, among the most promising trends in the field of gaming,” explains Miroslav Bodnár from EC Invesments, the reason for joining Divr Labs. Through this company, Křetínský and Tkáč invested in Heureka, Košíku.cz or Fast Group, for example.
As Bodnár suggests, this is not the first investment of both billionaires in the gaming industry, as two years ago they bought half of the Grunex agency, which focuses on PR and e-sports marketing.
Divr Labs operates individual branches, so expansion is costly and required a strong investor. The need for financial resources for further development is mentioned by practically all interested parties – the head of the startup, Lukáš Marek, the outgoing investor Adam Paclt and the remaining shareholder Jan Galgonek.
“Although Divr Labs has produced top-quality products in recent years, we have stood in the shadow of the world stage,” says Galgonek. “If funds are poured into Divr Labs properly and the direction is maintained, it will make a megadap of the world,” says Adam Paclt. “The capital-ideological background that ECI, as the leading investor, brings to our story is very valuable for this mission, if not the necessary equipment, if it is to be a mission with a global dimension,” adds Lukáš Marek, who manages the startup.
The branches that Divr Labs has opened in the capitals of the United Kingdom and Sweden should be followed by establishments in other metropolises, to which the Czech startup will reach thanks to a partnership with the Westfield shopping center network. It operates a shopping center in Chodov, Prague, where one of the current Divr Labs branches is also located.
The future of the CoR
Adam Paclt, one of the current investors, trusts the Czech startup even after leaving Divr Labs. “If it succeeds in building a presence in the world, which is planned, it can be a huge success,” he told E15 Paclt, according to which the current use of virtual reality technologies is just beginning. “Because of the streaming platforms, cinemas will have to engage with other content. I think that interactive VR content is clearly the future, “says one of the fields where VR technologies could move in the coming years.
The current management of Divr Labs is thinking in a similar direction, which wants to return to the roots, ie games in a virtual environment for computers. One game title has already been developed; it was the first Divr Labs product and bore the name Blue Effect. According to the creators, this was the first virtual reality game ever created in the Czech Republic.
“The LBVR (location-based VR) segment is still a priority for us, but our new content development strategy already determines the future intention to enter the domestic VR segment. And as soon as this market reaches the appropriate volume, “plans Lukáš Marek, head of the startup.
Marek himself believes that despite the fact that the development of VR technologies is slower than expected, virtual reality will be an essential part of the future. “It was a combination of the unavailability of VR technology for the masses and little content, ie. reasons to buy it, “explains Marek’s slowdown. “The first barrier has been significantly broken down. But the second one is running on a longer track, after all, you can only use the VR headset here and now for entertainment, unlike a mobile phone or a PC, ”he adds.
The founders of the startup in 2016 were Ondřej Bach and investor Jan Galgonek, over time Ondřej Fryc’s Reflex Capital, Nextech Ventures fund and entrepreneurs Adam Paclt (IceWarp) and Jaroslav Javornický (Spaceknow) invested in it. Fryc, Paclt and Javornický are now leaving Divr Labs completely, but they have not specified how much they received for their shares.
Divr Labs now owns two-thirds of Křetínský s Tkáč, Galgonek holds more than twenty percent and Nextech Ventures has retained about ten percent. The remaining shares belong to the people from the company’s management.
In recent years, several startups have emerged in the Czech Republic that focus on virtual reality and have also succeeded in penetrating the global market. Examples include the Beat Games development studio, which was bought by Facebook, or the VRGineers virtual reality glasses manufacturer.
Editor’s note: Daniel Křetínský and Patrik Tkáč are co-owners of the Czech News Center, which publishes the E15 daily.