Teenager Gets Funded by Andreessen Horowitz to Knock Off Pokemon for the iPhone

MinoMonsters has raised $1 million to develop a mobile game that will bring a Pokemon-like experience to the iPhone.

It might not sound like much money, but the round comes from a top-notch list of investors, and has been entrusted in 19-year-old Joshua Buckley.

Investors participating in the round include Andreessen Horowitz, SV Angel, Y Combinator, Yuri Milner, General Catalyst, Ignition Partners, Raymond Tonsing and Alexis Ohanian.

Buckley sold his first start-up at the age of 15. That company was an online community that produced custom avatars. After that, he became an active angel investor at the age of 16, and entered the Y Combinator class 0f 2011.

Now he has replicated Nintendo’s hit game Pokemon for the iPhone — something Nintendo has been reluctant to do.

“Nintendo has dropped the ball on these people,” Buckley said. “They’ve focused on their declining consoles, and the eyeballs are moving to other platforms. We are targeting people in their early to mid-20s, who have a nostalgic feeling for Pokemon.”

Buckley has recruited TJ Murphy to help him out. Murphy, who will serve as president and co-founder, was most recently a product manager at Zynga, where he worked on some of the company’s hit titles, including FarmVille, CityVille and Adventure World.

Murphy, 25, says he left a considerable amount of stock on the table when he left the pre-IPO Zynga.

“It was a tough decision,” he said. “That’s not just Monopoly money. It was going to be liquid in a matter of months … But it came down to risk and control. I wanted a place where I was making the decisions, and the one responsible for the mistakes.”

Before Zynga, Murphy co-founded the Social Gaming Network (SGN), which was recently acquired by MindJolt, the game distribution company acquired earlier this year by Myspace co-founder and former CEO Chris DeWolfe.

With MinoMonsters, Buckley and Murphy believe they have an opportunity to build a megabrand like Angry Birds or Cut the Rope.

In the game, which will go live on iPhone Dec. 6 and will cost 99 cents, players have to care for their monsters by feeding, petting and spending time with them. Players can then pit their monster against other monsters in battles.

The Angry Birds playbook would say that the next step for MinoMonsters is to sell stuffed animals and other merchandise, and then bring the characters to life on TV and the big screen.


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