Freak’n Genius is moving south.
The Seattle animation startup is re-locating to Las Vegas after receiving $350,000 in funding from the VegasTechFund, a seed stage investment group that includes partners like Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh.
Freak’n Genius founder and CEO Kyle Kesterson will be packing up and moving his company to Sin City, where he’ll rebuild a new team. The company, founded in November 2011, currently employs just two and has raised $1.25 million to date.
Meanwhile, Kesterson has become a full-time community member with the Downtown Project, an initiative led by Hsieh to revitalize Downtown Las Vegas. The 29-year-old has been organizing and facilitating community events over the past four years in Seattle and the opportunity in Las Vegas seemed like a promising next step.
“Having seen the Downtown Project start as paper prototypes and blueprints on Tony Hsieh’s walls two years ago, to an up-and-coming thriving community that I’ve made great friends in, it’s a unique and wild opportunity to explore,” Kesterson told GeekWire.
Freak’n Genius, an inaugural member of the 2012 Kinect Accelerator program, will continue to operate from Vegas. The startup found success with its YAKiT app and has attracted large media companies as customers.
“You’ll be seeing instant cartoon and UGC creators with some of your favorite shows and characters, powered by the Freak’n Genius platform, in the near future,” Kesterson said.
Leaving Seattle was a difficult decision for Kesterson. He said he’ll continue to help build the entrepreneurial program for at-risk youth that he just started in Seattle, and will try to bring it to Las Vegas as well.
Kesterson added that he’s “really proud and blessed” to have been a part of the Seattle startup scene for the past several years.
“Now the idea of getting to go play in a fresh sandbox and apply what I’ve learned, alongside getting to continue building a company that I believe in to the depths of my soul, is keeping me up at night with anticipation,” he said.