Daniel Bernstein’s UpTap raises $160K to fuel development of tablet, mobile games

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Galactic Skater is one of UpTap’s two titles in the App Store.

Daniel Bernstein’s newest venture hasn’t quite found the level of success that Sandlot Games sustained during the last decade.

But at just a little over one year old, UpTap continues to raise money as it builds out its library of games.

Bernstein, a Seattle area entrepreneur best known for founding Cake Mania-maker Sandlot Games, is now running UpTap with co-founder Vitalii Vostrikov of Saint Petersburg, Russia. The startup just raised another $160,000 of a Series C round, bumping total funding to $860,000 — all from angels in the Seattle area.

Originally, UpTap planned to develop tablet-only titles, with Bernstein telling us in September 2012 that “we’ve never had the opportunity to be focused on the tablet 100 percent.”

UpTap co-founder Daniel Bernstein.

UpTap co-founder Daniel Bernstein.

But one of UpTap’s tablet titles — Word Winner — is already available for the iPhone, and another — Galactic Skater — is coming to iOS and Android shortly.

Bernstein, who has three employees in Seattle and three in Russia, told us that the company’s goals shifted a bit after realizing how important the mobile platform is.

“The reality is that mobile is quite a bit bigger [than tablets] as a market,” he said. “We are still using a tablet-first launch strategy, but we’re also realistic in seeing how phones are where the action is at this point from a business perspective.”

Bernstein and his colleagues at UpTap have learned quite a bit during the past year. They knew going in that the company couldn’t simply rely on organic momentum or being featured in an app store for sustained success. Now, though, they’ve experienced what that’s like first hand.

“We’ve learned that launching a game is similar to launching any Internet product,” Bernstein said. “You are responsible for customer acquisition and all of the costs associated with making a game successful. You need to focus on solid metrics and solid monetization behind a product that supports your user acquisition strategy.”

UpTap plans on releasing two more titles by the second quarter of 2014.