Virtual Reality is at an important moment in its development. We are leaping the chasm for technology adoption. There was a false start to the industry 4 years ago when Oculus was purchased by Facebook. A bunch of investment flooded the market, and everyone was trying to invest in “The Metaverse.” This was the wrong direction because we have to create the habit for people to be in VR for minutes at a time, while also adding real value to their lives. So slowly pick apart the metaverse one experience at a time, rather than holding our breath to solve it all at once.
We are at the next stage if adoption. The next 12 months are all going to be about training humans to use VR. Establishing the habit of putting the phone up to their faces, or interacting with people in VR, while in the normal world.
- Headsets are getting cheaper.
- More headsets are being produced.
- Talented people have experimented with it for multiple years.
- Good products are in the app stores.
However, in general, people still don’t own a headset. Whether it’s because they don’t understand why they would need one, they had a bad first experience, or it’s too expensive.
So the next 12 months of VR, where we will be investing will be about solving this problem. Showing people where VR can play in their lives.
3.5 years ago, Boost VC wrote our first check into a Virtual Reality startup. We now have the largest portfolio of VR startups by about 2x. We have now backed around 75 Virtual Reality, AR or Mixed Reality startups. As people have asked the question “Is that VR thing still a thing?” we have doubled, if not tripled down.
I now spend hours a week, productively in VR. I take office hours weekly. I work out in VR. I game in VR. I’m eating the dog food… and the dog food tastes delicious.
We are hunting for Tribe 11 startups right now, and we are specifically looking for:
I’m naming it this after the alien Symbiote Venom, which turns Spiderman’s suit black and makes him stronger. Symbiotic VR will enable VR headsets with the tools we already have: AR and Mobile. VR is a very isolated experience, there aren’t enough players, and when you are playing, no one else in the room gets to use it. I believe that there will be a lot of bridging technologies built that will onboard users to VR, and allow them to interact with people in VR.
This works both ways though. Products like FlipsideVR and MasterpieceVR allow you to create designs and models in VR, and then export to the real world.
We just backed our first VR fitness startup, FitXR, and I would love to back more. I’ve been doing morning workouts in FitXR, and it really gets you to sweat without you thinking about it. Your brain is tricked into working out. It’s like Peloton, but the hardware does more than one thing. I think there is a huge opportunity to disrupt health and Fitness in VR.
Weekly, I set up meetings with VR startups in a product called Arthur. It is a product specifically designed for meetings. I can call down a white board, transcribe the conversation, and also collaborate with the individuals, which is impossible to do through Skype or Google Hangouts. I believe B2B is still the way that most people will initially try Virtual Reality.
I’m constantly still looking for new, cool ways that people are learning things in VR. Our long term perspective is still that VR changes the way we learn. And so we are looking for all types of educational products: Training, learning, experiencing, verticalized, enterprise. We are looking at everything, and seeing people retain more information faster. We live in the matrix, so let’s start acting like it.
Haptics + Sound
Feel and sound are two of the most important senses in life, and as you will be able to experience more digitally, they will become increasingly more valuable in VR/AR. I think that enough products exist now, that you could build a good business off of a cool haptic vest and be a part of the growth in the market.
I’ve constantly been fascinated by sound, and have yet to find THE ONE. People in the movie industry say that 50% of a movie is the sound, I believe it’s more like 60% in VR. We need more products making this better and more directional. Audio physics is fascinating.
On top of that, I would love to see anything that I haven’t seen before. Something that I wouldn’t expect. Startups that need experiences, learning, or collaboration are probably going to use VR. There are so many marketing products that will exist, social products and analytics that will exist. I’m excited about the next 12 months. Let’s build the future!