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SkyVu Entertainment pushes “Battle Bears” brand to sky’s-the-limit vision of mobile games, TV, film, toys …


Omaha’s young creatives community is the subject of much press and buzz, as this blog is in part a testament to, and SkyVu Entertainment is one of the more interesting stories on this burgeoning scene.  The self-desccribed transmedia company that does animation and designs mobile games is led by a visionary named Ben Vu who is completely serious when he says he views SkyVu as the Pixar of mobile games and as a mini-Disney.  The following profile of Ben and his company will be appearing in an upcoming issue of B2B Magazine.  I am sure to be revisiting his story and his company’s story again in the near future.

 

SkyVu Entertainment pushes “Battle Bears” brand to sky’s-the-limit sision of mobile games, TV, film, toys …

©by Leo Adam Biga

Originally appeared in B2B Magazine

 

With Battle Bears reaching 14 million downloads and counting, maker SkyVu Entertainment is a Player in the mobile games world.

“We created an entertainment distribution platform through not something like  Facebook or Twitter but something like a brand. We like to see ourselves as the Pixar of mobile games. A mini-Disney,” says Ben Vu, co-founder of SkyVu with his brother Hoa.

The transmedia company, which launched here rather than Asia thanks to Nebraska Angels support, has designs on making a feature-length Battle Bears film and is negotiating a television series and toy line. SkyVu began as an animation shop before entering the games field.

A graduate of Disney-founded Cal Arts, Ben worked on the stop-motion feature Coraline and has made a study of the Walt Disney Company. He notes parallels between the Brothers Vu and Midwesterners Walt and Roy Disney.

“I see a lot of how myself and my brother are in how Walt and Roy Disney played off of each other,” says Ben. “Roy was the money guy and Walt more the creative visionary, and a lot of times the creative visionary wanted all the resources he needed to fulfill that vision while the other one watched out for the road ahead.”

Ben’s the creative mastermind. Hoa, who heads up the Singapore office, is the tight-fisted numbers wonk. This yin-yang finds them often butting heads. Their conflicting personalities are the models for two Bears characters, Oliver (Ben) and Riggs (Hoa). “They’re always at odds but somehow every episode of every game they find a way to work together to accomplish the mission,” says Vu. “This is how Ben and Hoa work.”

The only children of Vietmanese refugee parents, the Vus grew up in Norfolk, Neb. and graduated from Omaha Creighton Prep. Both were fascinated with movies, games and drawing. Their skill sets meshed with the new digital age.

“We’re an entertainment company and we use technology to entertain, but boy do we love technology,” says Ben, “because it allows us to compete at a high level, reaching millions of people within a short amount of time at a fraction of what it used to cost. With the advent of the iPhone followed by the iPad and the growth of Android we could not be in a better place right now.”

He says their signature game “combines cute with a bit of violence in a compelling story about a family of robotic bears trying to save the world but learning from each other in the process.” Its put SkyVu in elite company with EA, THQ, Sony, Nintendo, even Microsoft. “They all want a piece of the mobile pie.”

He says big companies have more resources but SkyVu has its own advantages.

“Because of our careful attention to character and story, first and foremost, we build engaging games. Something we’ve learned in a short amount of time and that we’re good at is providing a snack bite size quality experience coupled with a very appealing character and story. The magic is those two things coming together.

“We’re one of the unique studios in the world that has an animation and a games studio all under the same roof driven by the same creative force.”

Fans keep coming back for more at the App Store.

“We don’t talk about users or players, we deal in building loyal fans and taking care of them.”

Bigger audiences await.

“The (film) studios and networks are now looking at mobile games as a rich source of content,” says Vu, who feels SkyVuis well-poised to seize the day. “As the mobile game experience becomes more rich, as these phones get faster, as tablets start to invade the living room more, the production quality rises and SkyVu needs to scale itself up appropriately to be ahead of the curve.”

Getting there requires more capital, perhaps a partner, and he says SkyVu is attracting serious offers. The team’s multi-skilled animators and coders allow flexibility.

“We’re in mobile right now but there’s no doubt in my mind you’ll be experiencing our brands in the living room, possibly in the airplane and the car, certainly in theaters.”

He keeps a shoebox full of story-character concepts in his office, which doubles as the war room. White boards display a calligraphy of brainstorms. “There’s no shortage of ideas.”

SkyVu’s 14-person team is all local and Vu’s confident Nebraska will continue filling its needs. In January he strategically relocated SkyVu to Ak-Sar-Ben Village to be near the Scott Technology Center, Peter Kiewit Institute and UNO College of Business.

He says SkyVu offers a rare Midwest opportunity for “talented young people to create stuff seen and experienced by millions of people.” He’s committed to staying put. “The team we built here got us to where we are, so why would we abandon that? We can be competitive with any region in the country, with any country, as long as we maintain our innovation and creation.”

“It’s really daring what we’re trying to do here, but we’re actually doing good, we’re making traction. If the TV series becomes a reality things are going to go crazy. We’re just breaking even now and profitability is our number one priority because we have to grow.” ”

He anticipates adding 60-plus employees in two years to accommodate new ventures.

The next big thing may only be a shoebox away.

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  1. 4Acireededdy
    February 18, 2012 at 6:42 pm
  2. odobbybix
    March 16, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    Ya prishol

    Like

  1. March 13, 2012 at 2:37 pm

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