A Q&A with Virtuix co-founder and CEO Jan Goetgeluk. The Houston, Texas-based startup, which has built a hardware platform that allows users to move naturally while in virtual reality applications, announced last week the closing of a $2.7 million Seed funding round. Investors include Radical Investments, Scout Ventures, Scentan Ventures, Western Technology Investment, Tekton Ventures and 2020 Ventures. The company was founded last year and previously raised more than $3 million through two earlier Seed rounds.
SUB: Please describe Virtuix and your primary innovation.
Goetgeluk: Virtuix is the developer of the Virtuix Omni, the first ever omni-directional VR treadmill that enables the user to walk, run, and jump in 360 degrees and move naturally in the virtual world.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Goetgeluk: Our main target market are currently gamers that are looking for an immersive, active virtual reality experience.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition, and what differentiates Virtuix from the competition?
Goetgeluk: Virtuix is a first-of-its-kind device that solves the problem of locomotion and allows natural movement in VR. At this time, no other omni-directional treadmills are yet available in the marketplace.
SUB: You just announced that you’ve raised $2.7 million in new Seed funding. Why was this a particularly good time to raise funding?
Goetgeluk: We are gearing up for our commercial launch early next year. These funds will help us support and grow operations, provide working capital and accelerate our R&D efforts.
SUB: Do you have plans to seek additional outside funding in the near future?
Goetgeluk: We still have money left in this round that we will fill in the next two months.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Virtuix? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Goetgeluk: The Omni is not the result of an ‘aha’ moment, but of three years of researching, experimenting, prototyping, and testing. We wanted to solve the problem of ‘locomotion,’ or how to walk around naturally in the virtual world as opposed to pushing buttons on a gamepad or keyboard. The Omni is the first device that enables such natural movement in VR in a way that is affordable for consumers.
SUB: What were the first steps you took in establishing the company?
Goetgeluk: Quitting my investment banking job!
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story or meaning behind it?
Goetgeluk: Naming is hard. It took us many months to come up with company and product names that were available while sounding good. ‘Virtuix’ refers to ‘virtual works,’ ‘virtual reality’ and ‘virtue.’ ‘Omni’ refers to ‘omni-directional.’
SUB: What have the most significant challenges been so far to building the company?
Goetgeluk: Our first fundraising round, the $3 million Seed round raised back in April, was the hardest. Besides that, bringing hardware to market is hard. People underestimate how hard it is to manufacture goods, or even to build the machines that build the machines.
SUB: How do you generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Goetgeluk: We sell Omnis every day on our website for $499 per unit.
SUB: What are your goals for Virtuix over the next year or so?
Goetgeluk: Our company’s mission is to take virtual reality beyond the chair and create the most immersive virtual reality experience possible. Bringing the Omni to market and into the hands of our customers is a first, important step.