Questo, an award-winning Romanian startup creating city exploration games, has raised $1.5 million in an investment round led by Early Game Ventures with support from Sparking Capital, two funds based in Bucharest.
Also headquartered in Bucharest, the company offers games for tourists and locals to discover and learn about a city on their own, guided by a mobile app. While the activity resembles a tour, the players are solving riddles based on their immediate surroundings, ‘unlocking’ new places with underlying stories that mix fact and fiction. Every city exploration game is created by locals or in partnership with business partners (tour operators, attractions, airlines) on a revenue share basis, and a new one is added every week.
During the pandemic, Questo says it has more than doubled its territory. At the beginning of 2020, the company was operating in 40 cities across Europe. As of 2021, it expanded to over 100 cities on four continents, and the game supply grew by 150 percent.
By the end of this year, the company wants to double again, thanks to the new funding. The goal is to reach a total of 200 cities by the end of 2021, with a particular focus on the US market.
“We like to think of it like Steam for real-world games, where our players are the main characters, and the local storytellers are the game developers. Currently, our primary focus is on exploration games, but the options are endless," says Alex Govoreanu, the startup’s CEO and co-founder.
Founded in 2017 and having raised modest angel and seed rounds since then, Questo won the "Disruptive Hospitality" award from UN's World Tourism Organization in 2019.
Photo courtesy of Questo: co-founders Alex Govoreanu and Claudiu Petria