Lobaki, Inc., the Jackson-based virtual-reality firm, has closed the first tranche of a $2 million round of financing led by the North Mississippi Angel Fund.
“We met with the North Mississippi Angel Fund in Columbus and had a really good experience with them. All the members are very experienced and successful in their own businesses and are just the type of local investors we need with their wealth of knowledge,” said Vince Jordan, co-founder of Lobaki, Inc. “In turn, they were very interested in Lobaki because of the extremely high rate of growth in the virtual reality industry—and the absence of any capable providers here in the South. They have invested over a half million dollars in Lobaki and may invest more in the future.”
Tony Jeff, president and CEO of Innovate Mississippi, said it is rewarding to see investors and entrepreneurs coming together in Mississippi. “This is particularly exciting because it’s being done through the first regional angel fund. We are working to establish funds statewide, where the fund managers can do the diligence and paperwork, then individual accredited investors can get involved quickly and easily,” he said. “This is exactly how it’s supposed to work.”
Lobaki, which employs designers to create 3-D virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) “worlds” in software, has grown quickly since relocating to downtown Jackson in 2018. VR has immediate applications in healthcare, education, military and corporate training, Jordan said.
For instance, the company announced this spring that it is working with the University of Mississippi Medical Center on a concussion training protocol that uses VR applications to help heal injured athletes. In another example, Lobaki has been working on a pilot program for Entergy Mississippi that allows utility workers to begin training for dangerous duties in the safety of a VR headset.
Jordan said that interest in VR and AR from corporations and institutions is heating up fast.
“This investment will almost exclusively be about getting more folks on board for development,” Jordan said. “The company has a substantial backlog of projects; we will bring on more help to build more virtual-reality experiences especially for our healthcare and industry clients. Most companies at this stage are looking to expand sales, but we need to expand production.”
Lobaki’s founders are also involved in the non-profit Lobaki Foundation, which runs the Lobaki XR Academies, where people seeking new career skills can learn to use the software tools to design and build VR objects and worlds.
“What’s great is we’re picking up a bunch of new hires from the two Academies here in Jackson; I think it’s a double win,” Jordan said.
The bottom line is that this is a great example of the Mississippi investor community putting money into high-tech job growth,” Jeff said. “We’re really proud of everyone involved.”
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