Funium receives a $1.8 million investment
Funium, a Provo-based startup that’s merging personal ancestry research with virtual worlds in its new game “Family Village,” has raised an additional $1.8 million in seed funding, the company is announcing today. This new investment is on top of the $1.2 million it raised in February 2011. The round was led by Family Odyssey, a company owned by early Ancestry.com investor and GeneTree co-founder, Jim Sorenson. A number of undisclosed angel investors also participated.
The idea for Funium’s flagship property Family Village occurred to CEO Jeff Wells around four years ago, when he began to research his own personal ancestry online. “I started at about 10 o’clock at night by joining Ancestry.com, and then literally, at 4 o’clock in the morning I was still red-eyed, and very excited about all the documents I was finding about my family members as I continued to research name after name.”
But even though he was enjoying the discoveries Ancestry.com produced, Wells felt that the overall process could use some improvement. “I noticed that I was interested in it because I liked the outcome, but the work was hard. It was like doing taxes or doing research,” he said of using the website. That’s when he had the idea: why don’t I make this process fun?
With the Facebook game Family Village, Wells is doing just that by combining the research process with something enjoyable – that is, social gaming. The game resembles something like Zynga’s The Ville or Sim City, but instead of just creating random avatars and having them interact, users create avatars who actually represent individual members of their own family, dating back through the ages.
This version submitted by howmania