Accelerators targeting VR startups

Steven Loeb · July 9, 2017 · Short URL:

These include accelerators from Samsung, HTC, Qualcomm and Disney

For startups, there are numerous paths for getting their name out there. One way, which Vator has been covering recently, are startup competitions, but another popular method to get a foot in the door, as well as some funding and traction, are accelerators. These are programs that provide companies advice, guidance and various forms of support for startups in their early stages. They also often invest in the companies, for a certain equity stake.

Need a list of startup competitions, challenges, accelerators, etc. from around the world? Check out VatorX. You can find them, or list yours!

There are some very well-known accelerators out there, including Y Combinator and 500 Startups, which have made their names through various successful alumni. Those programs fairly general, accepting companies from a variety of different spaces. 

For some companies, it may help to join an accelerator that only focuses on their specific area. That's especially true for those in more specialized spaces, which will have their own unique challenges and regulations.

One of those areas that requires some additional expertise is virtual reality.

Here are some of the accelerators that are focused specifically on mentoring companies in that space:

"We empower founders and early-stage software startups with funding, deep domain expertise, co-located work spaces, and unparalleled resources to build products, launch startups and grow companies ready for scale."

Investment amount: Samsung NEXT Start is seeking to invest between $100k and $1 million in pre-seed and seed-stage startups. Products that gain traction have potential to receive additional rounds of funding and ultimately spin-out or be acquired by Samsung.

Program benefits: 

  • We provide pre-seed and seed startups with investment, co-located workspace, deep domain expertise, a strong mentor and alumni network, access to Samsung leadership and resources, and the connections to help you raise your next round.
  • Our Entrepreneur-in-Residence program is a build-focused, 6 to 18-month engagement where EIRs have access to talent, insights and resources, as well as fixed funding to rapidly create their own product. 

Portfolio companies: Entrypoint, 2Sens, 8i, baobab studios

"Join the VR Revolution. Apply to HTC VIVE’s VR Accelerator: VIVE X. Our mission is simple: We want to help cultivate, foster and grow the global VR ecosystem by supporting startups and providing them with education, investment and mentorship."

Investment amount: HTC invests out of a $100 million accelerator investment fund

Program benefits:

  • Get direct access to the best and most knowledgeable thought leaders in VR
  • You will have opportunities to meet like-minded entrepreneurs, industry experts and investors from around the world
  • Let us help you deal with functions such as Accounting, Finance, HR, Legal etc. so that you can concentrate on making your company great

Portfolio companies: Kaleidoscope, Apmetrix, SoccerDream, Immersv, LumiereVR, Clevr

"Boost VC believes that Virtual Reality is poised to become the third major technology in the past 20+ years that will change how we live and work"

Investment amount: Boost invests up to $50k in exchange for 7% of the company

Program benefits: We give our companies a place to live & work, an unparalleled network, and time to focus on their startup. We are deeply committed to helping educate and accelerate entrepreneurs as they build a technology company.

Mentor makeup: Tim Draper, Sean Percival, Jens Christensen, Meron Gribetz, Bill Barhydt

Portfolio companies: Mindshow, TheWaveVR, Fearless, Vizor, SculptrVR

"The Green Screen Institute intends to spur innovation in the emerging VR and AR markets, incorporating an accelerator and investment program for startups, a co-working space for established corporations, and planned programs including vocational training. We believe extraordinary creativity occurs in peaceful, natural environments outside the congestion of major urban centers. Green Screen provides a nurturing environment for creators and technologists to push the envelope of today’s most exciting communication and entertainment medium."

Investment amount: $50,000 stipend

Program benefits: 

  • Access to VR & AR platform equipment and production facilities;
  • Private and community workspaces with access to co-working lab tenants;
  • Proven accelerator curriculum leading to a demo day with investors;
  • Startup legal and accounting services; and
  • Housing provided for teams of up to three.

Mentor makeup: The Green Screen Institute boasts an Advisory Board of industry professionals who bring diverse expertise to Institute stakeholders, including executives from leading companies like Samsung, EA, Fandango, and the most active VR investors in the world.

Portfolio companies: Haptical, enerG, Hot Bit VR, Theia Interactive

"River Accelerator selects frontier technology companies, to support with resources, mentorship and community."

Investment amount: $100,000+ investment from its partner, Rothenberg Ventures

 Program benefits: 

  • Mentorship from top Frontier Technology luminaries
  • Access to the River Lounge in San Francisco
  • River Accelerator demo day
  • Weekly meet-ups and dinners with River Accelerator mentors and Frontier Technology luminaries

Portfolio companies: EmergentVR, Vantage VR, Awaken, Deepstream VR, Tiggar, Totwise

"The tenth annual SXSW Accelerator Pitch Event will take place during Startup & Tech Sectors on Saturday, March 10, Sunday, March 11, and Monday, March 12. A live audience, as well as a panel of expert judges, will discover advancements in various sectors of emerging technology."

Investment amount: The winning prizes include two (2) Interactive badges for the 2019 SXSW Interactive event, various SXSW Accelerator sponsor gifts and, most importantly, the opportunity to receive exposure to the SXSW audience looking out for the latest in cutting-edge technology. Additional prizes will be announced as the event date approaches.

Mentor makeup: Each judge is an industry expert in venture capitalism or technology market space and will not be the same individual who is involved in the screening process. There will be a minimum of three panelists judging each showcase.

Portfolio companies: Lampix

"The HMD Accelerator Program is designed to increase scale and lower the barriers for manufacturers to create a cutting-edge HMD effectively and efficiently with pre-validated components while meeting required VR performance criteria"

Investment amount: Not specified

Program benefits: 

  • As part of the HMD Accelerator Program, Qualcomm Technologies is making available a new HMD reference design, the Snapdragon 835 VR HMD. GoerTek and Thundercomm are ODMs ready to engage on new OEM designs following the Snapdragon 835 VR HMD, and are working with global manufacturers for commercial designs.
  • Manufacturers will have access to reference design products and choose from a pre-qualified set of components. They have the choice of either building their own HMDs from reference design materials provided, or working with a trained, turnkey original design manufacturer (ODM) like Goertek or Thundercomm to modify and the Qualcomm® Snapdragon 835 VR HMD to suit the manufacturer’s commercial needs.
  • VR tracking software from technology leaders like Leap Motion and SMI has also been pre-optimized on the Snapdragon 835 VR HMD to accelerate time to development. Furthermore, the program includes pre-defined quality metrics and methods of testing, accessories and more, to help manufacturers develop and deploy mobile VR HMDs that deliver the most immersive user experiences possible with Snapdragon 835.

Portfolio companies: None yet

"Virtual reality is transforming the way we learn, interact, and understand the world around us. At Upload, everything we do is built on three pillars: Connection, Experience and Inspiration. We exist to accelerate the success of the consumer virtual reality industry."

Investment amount: We require a 50% deposit before the program starts and allow students to pay the remainder throughout the course. For example, if a course is 10 weeks long, students may pay off the remaining 50% by the end of the 10 week program.

Program benefits: The Upload SF and LA campuses are hybrid coworking, incubation and education spaces. The editorial site offers the latest industry news on all things happening in the global VR/AR ecosystem. Upload is fully ingrained in the immersive technology industry since May 2014, driving it forward through an inclusive community-oriented approach.

Workshops typically require students to bring their own laptops and have a few headsets available for the class to share. Longer courses have VR-enabled computers, headsets, and controllers provided for each student.

Mentor makeup: Our instructors are industry professionals who have developed VR experiences that can be found on the Oculus and Steam stores, and have written best-selling industry books about VR.

"Play Labs is a new startup incubator/accelerator program for MIT-affiliated startups using playful technologies in any industry. Playful technologies come in many forms, including Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, 3d Modeling, Gamification, AI, which can be applied to industries such as Video Games, eSports, Healthcare, Simulation, Manufacturing, etc."

Investment amount: Every team accepted into Play Labs will receive $20,000 at the start of the program in exchange in for 6% common equity.  

This money will help the team get through the summer, and each company that graduates will be eligible for a follow on investment of up to $80k as part of a follow-on seed round, which is typically done as a convertible note. Startups will need to meet certain criteria in their seed round for the follow-on investment.

Program benefits:  All accepted teams will be provided workspace on the MIT Campus for the duration of the program.  

Mentor makeup: Rajeev Surati, Mike Dornbrook, Noah Falstein, Sunny Dhillon, Waikit Lau

Portfolio companies: Coresights, Datavized, Empathy Box, Escape Labs, Esports One, Hidden Switch, Minda Labs, RidgeLine, SavvyStat, Team Future, Total Respawn, VRemedy, Wonda VR

Disney Accelerator

"The Disney Accelerator is helping today’s technology innovators turn their dreams for new media and entertainment experiences into reality."

Investment amount: Each company will receive up to $120,000 in investment capital

Program benefits: The Disney Accelerator provides participating companies with investment capital, access to co-working space at Disney’s creative campus and mentor support and guidance from top Disney executives, entrepreneurs, investors and other notable business leaders from the entertainment and technology communities.

The Disney Accelerator co-working space is located in greater Los Angeles.

Portfolio companies: Jaunt, OTOY, Littlstar

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