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Video Game Studio Investing $630,000 Into New Downtown Troy Offices



Albany Business Review

Guha and Karthik Bala are investing more than $630,000 into their video game studio's new offices in downtown Troy, New York. The brothers started a new video game company, Velan Studios, in 2016 after exiting their first business, Vicarious Visions.

The new 7,600-square-foot office is spread across several buildings and floors on Third Street in Troy. The more than $600,000 investment includes fitting out that space, as well as new machinery and equipment. Empire State Development is providing up to $200,000 in a performance-based capital grant. The company plans to create at least 49 jobs over the next few years.

The studio has seen fast growth, and already sized out of its first office at 225 River St., next to the empty One Monument Square. That office accommodated 20 people. Velan Ventures employs 40 people now.

The new office, at 5 Third St. above Spill'n the Beans coffee house, has high ceilings, arched windows and classic moldings. The office was transformed from a former, neglected union hall into an office befitting one of the area's fastest growing tech startups.

The move gives the Bala brothers multiple floors and spaces to grow the business, with up to 10,000 square feet to lease. David Bryce owns the building, which is being renovated in phases.

Since starting the company in 2016, half of Guha and Karthik Bala's hires have been recruited from outside the Albany area, including Austin, Boston and parts of Europe. More than half of the employees are based in downtown Troy, walking distance to the office.

Velan Studios is focused on research and development of augmented reality, robotics, the integration of hardware and software and other emerging technologies in gaming and entertainment.

The studio is not ready to disclose current projects or partnerships.

Karthik and Guha Bala say there is potential to grow the area's video gaming industry, which employs about 450 people, to 3,000 people in the next 10 years. The region faces competition from places with better weather, such as southern California, and better tax benefits, such as those offered in Quebec and Austin, Texas.

They have been pushing for New York state to give digital media and gaming companies a 25 percent tax credit. It would be an extension of the film industry tax credit that offers $420 million a year in tax breaks for film and movie productions.

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