Los Angeles, California-based technology and performance group Two Bit Circus, which is known for dynamic live shows involving virtual reality, robots, and special effects, has raised $6.5 million with Techstars Ventures and Foundry Group.
“The circus sector hasn’t been disrupted since Cirque du Soleil, and that was 20 years ago,” Techstars Ventures Managing Partner Mark Solon told the Wall Street Journal. “This is not your typical venture deal, but you don’t get outsized returns from following the crowd.”
Two Bit Circus has developed a number of productions that blur the lines between performance, education, and traditional traveling shows. The Arcade Roadshow, which can be booked at conferences and other special events, engages carnival-goers with physical games that involve tumbling and dodging. They’ve experimented with custom events for clients and pop-up dinners, and in one notable effort, they built the Rube Goldberg machine for OK Go’s viral music video for the track “This Too Shall Pass.”
Venture capital is a new strategy for Two Bit Circus, which took to Kickstarter in 2013 to fund STEAM Carnival, an educationally-tinted production.
“With the funding from Foundry Group, Techstars, and Intel Capital, we plan to grow and expand the national presence of our STEAM Carnival, develop original content for VR, web, and mobile, and continue to create and share the immersive entertainment and interactive games we have become so well known for,” said Nicky Besuden, Two Bit Circus’ director of marketing.
Two Bit Circus Co-Founder Brent Bushnell’s father, Nolan Bushnell, is a co-founder of both Atari and Chuck E. Cheese; he’s reportedly been involved in aspects of the venture. “He keeps threatening to move in here!” Bushnell said of his dad’s involvement earlier this year.