PlayShifu — an opportunity in the emerging AR toys segment

Arpit Mittal
Nov 10, 2017 · 4 min read

While AR/VR has been a buzzword in the ecosystem for a while, AR is now emerging as the new platform of choice for distribution, ie from web-first to mobile-first to AI-first to possibly now AR-first. For instance, Houzz, which is a website and online community about architecture, interior design and home improvement, has already delivered 11 times sales conversion using mobile AR.

When it comes to gaming, augmented reality (AR) offers an innovative technology that includes digital information thereby providing a composite view to the user and in real-time.

Augmented Reality (AR) based gaming and toys market is expected to reach $284.93 billion by 2023, growing at a CAGR of 152.7% during the forecast period 2017–2023. While Europe represents the largest market worldwide, Latin America ranks as the fastest growing market. As per a recent report, Apple ARKit, Google ARCore, and Facebook’s Camera Effects Platform could have 900 million users by the end of 2018 and Mobile AR’s installed base could grow to over 3 billion by 2021.

The AR technology allows gamers to scan physical world with an augmented experience by providing digital information. With AR, you’re not just controlling the game but you’re IN the game. That means the possibilities are much greater than with pinch-and-zoom functionality in smartphones.

Augmented reality toys, app integrated toys, and toys that can be controlled by smartphones and tablets are emerging into the new frontiers of growth in this day and age. There’s a brilliant TEDTalk by Bill Gross talking about how product timing is the most important factor that defines a startups journey.

Major factors driving global growth

Alongwith the above factors, several factors locally are providing strong tailwind for adoption of premium quality AR Gaming toys/products

The future of this large market lies in products that bridge the gap between real-world and virtual toys. Shifu is operating right at the center of AR gaming with its ‘phygital’ line of products and IP protected tech.


Superior Product/Tech

Globally many players have been trying to blend AR with STEM learning but very few have been able to find success:

Blend of right skill-set of the founding team

The company operates in a space that requires strong product design skills, ops / offline-online distribution experience and understanding consumer behavior. The founding team brings in a combination of skills including product design, consumer behavior mapping, omni-channel distribution and sales. Given the complexity of the business in ideating, developing, manufacturing, procuring, setting up distribution channels, Vivek and Dinesh complement each other well.

Strong Product Distribution will be key

Having the right distribution pipeline, which allows the products to reach the end consumer faster, completes the important feedback loop which is critical in developing world-class products.

With a successful Kickstarter campaign taking the Orboot to over 60 countries, right offline and online channel partners both in India and globally, Shifu is well positioned to capture a large and rapidly growing market opportunity.

It is exciting to partner with Vivek, Dinesh and the entire team at Playshifu in this journey towards building a unique emersive gaming and learning experience for kids.

With inputs from Karthik Prabhakar!

If you’re building an exciting product, please feel free to reach me at

Chiratae Ventures

Formerly IDG Ventures India | Early Stage Venture Capital Investor | Big believers of India

Arpit Mittal

Written by

Wharton MBA Candidate | ex-VC IDG Ventures | ex-Goldman Quant | DCE alum

Chiratae Ventures

Formerly IDG Ventures India | Early Stage Venture Capital Investor | Big believers of India