On Saturday 6th January 2018 I joined the Women in XR Venture Fund team in Virtual Reality to see, hear and learn about the 8 selected Founders of their 1st WXR Cohort.
There are so many angles that make this event such a sensational moment in history, including being a tech investment event for women Founders, a pitching event in virtual reality for virtual/augmented or mixed reality companies. An opportunity to hear more about cutting edge ventures, what they are doing, how they are doing it and how they are monetising their activities (the monetising side is something that many in the industry are struggling with currently).
The event was held within the social VR Platform, AltSpace (which was recently saved from closing down thanks to Microsoft a few months ago). The atrium was rather busy which was a supportive sign because it meant people were attending ‘in person’ in the VR setting. It was also being live-streamed from the WXR Venture Fund’s website and via AltSpace’s YouTube channel – meaning that it was an inclusive event, you DID NOT NEED a VR Headset (HMD: Head Mounted Display) to be an audience member. Many people don’t realise that this technology has grown so much in the last 18 months alone. I will follow this blog post up with some interesting case studies for you to read about soon!
Another interesting factor to the social VR event like this was that many people could come and go as they pleased including arriving late without disrupting the flow, without making noises that distract you. Actually, it was nice to have the anonymity of it all as well for example a futuristic robot floating by didn’t seem to make you think ‘how embarrassing they’re late’ but rather ‘oh cool, another robot avatar’! The atmosphere was incredibly relaxed and the only thing that I worried about whilst there was to make sure I didn’t accidentally hit my transport button whilst watching the presenters – otherwise I would find myself (my avatar) in the middle of the presentation space with her… you could easily jump back somewhere without the real-life beamer (embarrassed face) though so it wouldn’t have been too bad I guess! I once accidentally jumped out of the window you can see in the picture above during another conference whilst asking a question to the presenter, you recover quickly though… think Mario Galaxy falling off of the level, you go and you ping back again within seconds so long as you click the button to an aimed spot to transport back again.
If you are interested in watching this event yourself (or some of it to get a feel for the environment, especially if this is the 1st time you are hearing about social VR) then the video recording can be found on the WXR Fund website – www.womenxr.com. A list of all the Founders are also detailed there including the incredible panelists, mentors and sponsors of the event.
A summary for you is as follows:
Founders of the 1st WXR Cohort:
Vivian Tan – Beast Inc
Cheryl Bayer – Living Popups
Sophia Dominguez – SVRF
Sarah Hill – StoryUp XR
Lori-Lee Emshey – FutureSight AR
Spandana Govindgari – ARAD
Morgan Mercer – Vantage Point
Julia Winter – Alchemie
Marco DeMiroz – founder of Venture Reality Fund
Maddie Callander – Boost VC
Jesse Draper – Halogen Ventures
Peter Rojas – betaworks ventures
Timoni West – Unity
Dessy Levinson – 645 Ventures
Host for the event was Malia Probst – Partner at VR Scout, Partner at WXR Fund and Host of the Real Virtual Show podcast.
To say I was (and still am) buzzing from the experience is and understatement! I learned so much, my mind was awakened to how advanced some of these companies already are. It really is impressive! I’ve been a huge fan of VR for a number of years now and follow the progress quite closely daily on Twitter but even I experienced some ‘wow’ moments! You have to check out Living Popups on YouTube! I love their work. They have recently supported Charlie Fink with his newly released Metaverse book. A book that features some AR (Augmented Reality) that you can interact with as you read the book. (I have just started reading Metaverse and will post a review in due course – no spoilers will be given. You can get a copy yourself via Amazon if you can’t wait for my post). The others you will see as you check them out through the video or doing a bit of research but there are VR Data, VR AI, VR search engines, VR pets and a load others mixed in. Eye opening stuff indeed. Enjoy your quest to learn more!
I’ll end with a traditional event selfie…