Mobile Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Movie App Whatifi is Looking For Scripts

Sam Blake

Sam primarily covers entertainment and media for dot.LA. Previously he was Marjorie Deane Fellow at The Economist, where he wrote for the business and finance sections of the print edition. He has also worked at the XPRIZE Foundation, U.S. Government Accountability Office, KCRW, and MLB Advanced Media (now Disney Streaming Services). He holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson, an MPP from UCLA Luskin and a BA in History from University of Michigan. Email him at samblake@dot.LA and find him on Twitter @hisamblake

Mobile Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Movie App Whatifi is Looking For Scripts
Courtesy of Whatifi

The movie ends with the mother's severed head in the refrigerator. And it's in there because of the choices you made.

But you can return to the beginning, make new choices along the way and produce a different ending on Whatifi, a new, choose-your-own-adventure storytelling mobile app.

Mobile-first storytelling isn't exactly new. Nor is choose-your-own-adventure. But Whatifi founder Jaanus Juss believes his game plan to combine quality content, interactivity and socialization will make his app a hit, particularly with younger crowds.

"It's a new entertainment category that defines how the next generation will entertain themselves," he says.

Following a $10 million funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz, this L.A. and Estonia-based startup launched on iOS last week with two "branching story" titles. Adding the app to Android is one part of a "long product roadmap," the founders say.

"Anatomy of a Decision" follows 30 years of a man's life, starting with his parents' visit to a fertility clinic, and proceeds along 64 possible story permutations based on the seven different decisions viewers make along the way.

In "As Dead as it Gets," viewers make four decisions to determine which of 16 fates will befall the main character, who is on the verge of death and wants to return to the land of the living.

Although Whatifi's founders think these 80 storylines will keep their viewers busy for the time being, they are calling for writers and directors to help them build out their content library.

"Anatomy of a Decision" and "As Dead as it Gets" are the two movies available to watch in the newly released app.Courtesy of Whatifi

What If I Want to Watch?

Juss' background puts him and his team in a strong position to provide advice to creators.

As chief executive and founder of Creator City, an Estonian creative network, Juss and some experimental colleagues began exploring how to introduce interactive storytelling into live theater. At first the crowds were too shy.

"Estonians are introverted," he explains. "Then we gave them shots a half-hour before the show, and it worked great, but that obviously wasn't a sustainable model. So we injected technology."

The idea took off. Juss and his team ran over 1,000 interactive shows. Around the time he and his eventual co-founder Hardi Meybaum began discussing the possibility of bringing the format to film, Netflix released Bandersnatch, a choose-your-own-adventure format from the creators of Black Mirror. That was enough validation for Meybaum, who'd formerly been an entrepreneur, to leave his venture capital gig in Silicon Valley and join in on the Whatifi journey about a year ago.

"I thought this was a unique opportunity to build a large consumer company," he says.

While testing the product in New Zealand, Singapore and Sweden, the team watched to see whether users who finished one storyline would return to the beginning to try another route.

"If they don't do that then the whole premise of branching stories isn't successful," Juss says.

One decision point of "Anatomy of a Decision"

Courtesy of Whatifi

In those test markets they saw that 90% of users went back for another go, the founders say. And in the first week since launching in the U.S., that number has risen even higher.

Whatifi is targeted at a younger audience. They are more "native" to mobile, Juss says, and they were the audience segment who seemed to most enjoy the experience back in the live-theater version.

In addition to providing unique stories, Whatifi incorporates a social element. When users boot up the app, they enter a waiting room, where they can invite friends to join them in a viewing party. As the stories reach decision points, the movies pause and all the friends must vote. The story only continues if there's a consensus. Until then, friends must deliberate on which path to choose.

A key learning Juss took from the theater experiments was that the deliberation was often the part that was most fun.

And there's plenty more to explore.

"What we have so far is the simplest version that we've done in the theater," Juss says. "We can go much more complicated for telling the stories, but we'll ease into that."

Meybaum is enthralled by the possibilities.

"What makes Whatifi so cool and rewarding to work on is that, for us, there's content, social, the platform – it's all tightly coupled," he says. "When we are talking about the changes to come, they involve how to create content, the user experience, and also the social elements. It's the whole experience."

What if I Want to Participate?

July 7th is the pitch deadline. The company expects to receive applications primarily from "young and upcoming" screenwriters and directors, but Meybaum tells dot.LA that anyone can apply.

"You never know where the best ideas come from. We're excited to make it public," he says.

The contest has two parallel tracks: one for scripts only, and one for full productions. To help applicants get started, Whatifi provides a sample pitch, a story-mapping tool and a script template.

Up to 20 applicants will win $2,000 and qualify for the final round, for which they'll need to submit a full script – with a helping hand from Whatifi and its team of advisors.

Five winners of the full-production prize will receive $200,000 to turn their submissions into films for the Whatifi platform. Winners of the script-only prize will each receive $35,000, and the possibility that Whatifi will find a director to make the movie. The new films are scheduled to be completed by October 15.

Juss highlights one advantage the format provides to filmmakers: They need not suffer the pressures of having to make every decision themselves. That can be outsourced to the audience.

"Many writers probably wonder where their stories might have led, had they taken a different turn at a crucial point," says Johannes Veski, writer and director of "Anatomy of a Decision."

"The chance to see where all those potential paths lead should whet the appetites of screenwriters and filmmakers across genres."

Courtesy of Whatifi

Juss acknowledges that writing a script with multiple permutations can be a challenge. Veski agrees.

"Maintaining coherence is hard enough when writing one story," Veski says. "I aimed at 64 paths and outcomes that all begin at a single point. I had to make sure they'd all logically lead back to the beginning and still make sense in relation to each other. It felt like like building a house of cards and changing the laws of physics on the way."

But both Juss and Veski think the learning curve isn't too steep.

"We've seen that filmmakers can really get their heads around it," Juss says. "And once it's written it's not that different from a filming standpoint."

"Life is a single track of guesswork, projection, regret, and relief," Veski adds. "I'm intrigued by life as not one, but many possible paths. I see 'Anatomy of a Decision' as a mere mortal's chance to trick fate and try on all the couldas and shouldas."


Sam Blake primarily covers media and entertainment for dot.LA. Find him on Twitter @hisamblake and email him at samblake@dot.LA
🤫 The Secret to Staying Fit at Your Desk: 6 Essential Under-Desk Exercise Machines

Health experts are sounding the alarm: our sedentary jobs are slowly killing us, yet we can't abandon our desks if we want to keep the lights on. It feels like we're caught between a rock and a hard place. Enter under-desk exercise machines – the overlooked heroes (albeit kind of goofy looking) of the modern workspace. These devices let tech professionals stay active, enhance their health, and increase their productivity, all without stepping away from their screens. Here are 6 fantastic options that will enhance the way you work and workout simultaneously.

DeskCycle Under Desk Bike Pedal Exerciser

This bike has nearly ten thousand five-star reviews on amazon. It works with nearly any desk/chair setup. It is quiet, sturdy and allows up to 40 pounds of resistance. If you are looking for an under-desk bike this is a fantastic option.

Type: Under-Desk Bike

Price: $180 - $200

Sunny Health & Fitness Dual Function Under Desk Pedal Exerciser

This under-desk bike is extremely quiet due to the magnetic resistance making it an ideal option if you work in a shared space. It doesn’t slip, has eight levels of resistance, and the option to work legs and arms. It’s about half the price of the DeskCycle bike making it a solid mid-range option for those looking to increase their daily activity.

Type: Under-Desk Bike

Price: $100 - $110

Sunny Health & Fitness Sitting Under Desk Elliptical

This under-desk elliptical comes in multiple colors if you really want to underscore that you are a quirky individual, in case an under-desk elliptical isn’t enough. This model is a bit heavy (very sturdy), has eight different resistance levels, and has more than nine thousand 5-star reviews.

Type: Under-Desk Elliptical

Price: $120 - $230

DeskCycle Ellipse Leg Exerciser

This under-desk elliptical is another great option. It is a bit pricey but it’s quiet, well-made and has eight resistance levels. It also syncs with your apple watch or fitbit which is a very large perk for those office-wide “step” challenges. Get ready to win.

Type: Under-Desk Elliptical

Price: $220 - $230

Daeyegim Quiet LED Remote Treadmill

If you have a standing desk and are looking to walk and work this is a fantastic option. This walking-only treadmill allows you to walk between 0.5 to 5 mph (or jog unless you have the stride length of an NBA forward). It is very quiet, which is perfect if you want to use it near others or during a meeting. You can’t change the incline or fold it in half but it is great for simply getting in some extra steps during the work day.

Type: Under-Desk Treadmill

Price: $220 - $230

Sunny Health & Fitness Foldable Manual Treadmill

This under-desk treadmill isn’t the most premium model but it is affordable and has an impressive array of features. It is a manual treadmill meaning it doesn’t need to be plugged in; it is foldable and offers an incline up to 13%. I personally can’t imagine working and walking up a 13% incline but if that sounds like your cup of tea, then I truly respect the hustle.

Type: Under-Desk Treadmill

Price: $150 - $200

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🤠Musk Picks Texas and 🔥Tinder AI Picks Your Profile Pictures

🔦 Spotlight

Tinder is altering dating profile creation with its new AI-powered Photo Selector feature, designed to help users choose their most appealing dating profile pictures. This innovative tool employs facial recognition technology to curate a set of up to 10 photos from the user's device, streamlining the often time-consuming process of profile setup. To use the feature, users simply take a selfie within the Tinder app and grant access to their camera roll. The AI then analyzes the photos based on factors like lighting and composition, drawing from Tinder's research on what makes an effective profile picture.

The selection process occurs entirely on the user's device, ensuring privacy and data security. Tinder doesn't collect or store any biometric data or photos beyond those chosen for the profile, and the facial recognition data is deleted once the user exits the feature. This new tool addresses a common pain point for users, as Tinder's research shows that young singles typically spend about 25 to 33 minutes selecting a profile picture. By automating this process, Tinder aims to reduce profile creation time and allow users to focus more on making meaningful connections.

In wholly unrelated news, Elon Musk has announced plans to relocate the headquarters of X (formerly Twitter) and SpaceX from California to Texas. SpaceX will move from Hawthorne to Starbase, while X will shift from San Francisco to Austin. Musk cited concerns about aggressive drug users near X's current headquarters and a new California law regarding gender identity notification in schools as reasons for the move. This decision follows Musk's previous relocation of Tesla's headquarters to Texas in 2021.

🤝 Venture Deals

LA Companies

LA Venture Funds

LA Exits

  • Penguin Random House agreed to acquire comic book publisher Boom! Studios from backers like Walt Disney Co. - learn more

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Top LA Accelerators that Entrepreneurs Should Know About

Los Angeles, has a thriving startup ecosystem with numerous accelerators, incubators, and programs designed to support and nurture new businesses. These programs provide a range of services, including funding, mentorship, workspace, networking opportunities, and strategic guidance to help entrepreneurs develop their ideas and scale their companies.

Techstars Los Angeles

Techstars is a global outfit with a chapter in Los Angeles that opened in 2017. It prioritizes local companies but will fund some firms based outside of LA.

Location: Culver City

Type of Funding: Pre-seed, early stage

Focus: Industry Agnostic

Notable Past Companies: StokedPlastic, Zeno Power


Grid110 offers no-cost, no-equity programs for entrepreneurs in Los Angeles, including a 12-week Residency accelerator for early-stage startups, an Idea to Launch Bootcamp for pre-launch entrepreneurs, and specialized programs like the PledgeLA Founders Fund and Friends & Family program, all aimed at providing essential skills, resources, and support to help founders develop and grow their businesses.

Location: DTLA

Type of Funding: Seed, early stage

Focus: Industry Agnostic

Notable Past Companies: Casetify, Flavors From Afar


Idealab is a renowned startup studio and incubator based in Pasadena, California. Founded in 1996 by entrepreneur Bill Gross, Idealab has a long history of nurturing innovative technology companies, with over 150 startups launched and 45 successful IPOs and acquisitions, including notable successes like Coinbase and Tenor.

Location: Pasadena

Type of Funding: Stage agnostic

Focus: Industry Agnostic, AI/Robotics, Consumer, Clean Energy

Notable Past Companies: Lumin, Coinbase, Tenor

Plug In South LA

Plug In South LA is a tech accelerator program focused on supporting and empowering Black and Latinx entrepreneurs in the Los Angeles area. The 12-week intensive program provides early-stage founders with mentorship, workshops, strategic guidance, potential pilot partnerships, grant funding, and networking opportunities to help them scale their businesses and secure investment.

Location: Los Angeles

Type of Funding: Pre-seed, seed

Focus: Industry Agnostic, Connection to South LA and related communities

Notable Past Companies: ChargerHelp, Peadbo

Cedars-Sinai Accelerator

The Cedars-Sinai Accelerator is a three-month program based in Los Angeles that provides healthcare startups with $100,000 in funding, mentorship from over 300 leading clinicians and executives, and access to Cedars-Sinai's clinical expertise and resources. The program aims to transform healthcare quality, efficiency, and care delivery by helping entrepreneurs bring their innovative technology products to market, offering participants dedicated office space, exposure to a broad network of healthcare entrepreneurs and investors, and the opportunity to pitch their companies at a Demo Day.

Location: West Hollywood

Type of Funding: Seed, early stage, convertible note

Focus: Healthcare, Device, Life Sciences

Notable Past Companies: Regard, Hawthorne Effect

MedTech Innovator

MedTech Innovator is the world's largest accelerator for medical technology companies, based in Los Angeles, offering a four-month program that provides selected startups with unparalleled access to industry leaders, investors, and resources without taking equity. The accelerator culminates in showcase events and competitions where participating companies can win substantial non-dilutive funding, with the program having a strong track record of helping startups secure FDA approvals and significant follow-on funding.

Location: Westwood

Type of Funding: Seed, early stage

Focus: Health Care, Health Diagnostics, Medical Device

Notable Past Companies: Zeto, Genetesis


The KidsX Accelerator in Los Angeles is a 10-week program that supports early-stage digital health companies focused on pediatric care, providing mentorship, resources, and access to a network of children's hospitals to help startups validate product-market fit and scale their solutions. The accelerator uses a reverse pitch model, where participating hospitals identify focus areas and work closely with selected startups to develop and pilot digital health solutions that address specific pediatric needs.

Location: East Hollywood

Type of Funding: Pre-seed, seed, early stage

Focus: Pediatric Health Care Innovation

Notable Past Companies: Smileyscope, Zocalo Health

Disney Accelerator

Disney Accelerator is a startup accelerator that provides early-stage companies in the consumer media, entertainment and technology sectors with mentorship, guidance, and investment from Disney executives. The program, now in its 10th year, aims to foster collaborations and partnerships between innovative technology companies and The Walt Disney Company to help them accelerate their growth and bring new experiences to Disney audiences.

Location: Burbank

Type of Funding: Growth stage

Focus: Technology and entertainment

Notable Past Companies: Epic Games, BRIT + CO, CAMP

Techstars Space Accelerator

Techstars Space Accelerator is a startup accelerator program focused on advancing the next generation of space technology companies. The three-month mentorship-driven program brings together founders from across the globe to work on big ideas in aerospace, including rapid launch services, precision-based imaging, operating systems for complex robotics, in-space servicing, and thermal protection.

Location: Los Angeles

Type of Funding: Growth stage

Focus: Aerospace

Notable Past Companies: Pixxel, Morpheus Space

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