Posted on March 2, 2017 by staff

SwapBots eyeing US market as Kickstarter launches


UK start-up SwapBots is targeting the lucrative American market with its augmented reality toy range after launching its Kickstarter campaign.

The Liverpool-based company is looking for £25,000 as it puts the finishing touches to the design of its product, which consists of a series of physical toys and a free-to-use app which they interact with.

“We’re working with Creata, the toy company that produces all of the McDonald’s toys – they are our partner for toy production,” SwapBots co-founder Andy Cooper told BusinessCloud as he demonstrated the product at Manchester Metropolitan University’s Virtual and Augmented Reality Conference.

“We’ve already made links with very big brands in the United States about both licensing and partnerships.”

SwapBots, founded in 2015, is the brainchild of Cooper and John Keefe, the founders of Liverpool design agency Draw and Code.

It seeks to bridge the gap between physical and digital play and aims to hit the shelves in August 2017, with the US and China seen as primary marketplaces.

“Euphoria, which provides the augmented reality technology which sits behind SwapBots, is the biggest AR platform in the world – they’ve also partnered with us,” continued Cooper.

“They introduced us at the New York Toy Fair as the most innovative company they’re working with at the moment – they’ve worked with Lego and Hasbro already so to get that kind of partnership is really great.”

SwapBots was recently included on Creative England’s CE50 list, which highlights the most innovative companies in the UK, and has also become part of renowned San Francisco hardware accelerator HAX after closing its opening round of seed funding from angel investors.

Keefe said: “Our growth has been springboarded from both sides of the Atlantic by the strong connections and relationships the North West has with San Francisco.

“Because of this we’ve grown faster than we ever imagined. It means that this year we can raise investment, launch a Kickstarter and hit the shelves – all in the space of eight months.”

The 12 plastic toys will retail in packs of three for £20 and are therefore affordable compared with the likes of toys-to-life video game Skylanders.

Each physical SwapBots character consists of three parts which lock together and can be swapped to create different characters, with a total of 1,728 possible combinations. Each part represents a different power or function when it is viewed within the app via video.

SwapBots won a “substantial” grant from the £4m UK Games Fund last summer and won Tech North’s Northern Stars Award as well as the Harvey Nash Startup of the Year.