Bellevue virtual reality company VRstudios raises $3M, plans expansion

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Bellevue virtual reality company VRstudios raises $3M, plans expansion

BY RACHEL NIELSEN on April 16, 2016, 2:09pm PDT

Virtual reality platform company VRstudios just raised $3 million and is planning an expansion.

The Bellevue company had been planning to raise $5 million, but it stopped
the fundraising earlier this month because its valuation was growing
and the terms of the note didn’t re ect that increase, CEO Charles Herrick said.

“Our backlog is building worldwide, our valuation is moving up so quickly,” Herrick said.

The money raised in the convertible note – short-term debts that convert to equity nancing once certain conditions are met – will go toward expanding the company’s overseas operations, developing its technology and building up its inventory, so that it can “rapidly ship and address the growing demand for our offerings,” Herrick said.

Earlier the company had raised $1.3 million from family and friends in a round that closed in December. VRstudios has just under 30 employees.

One of a growing number of virtual reality companies in the Seattle area, VRstudios leases and sells its virtual-reality platform to businesses so they can create mockups
of newly designed spaces. Their customers and employees can then view those spaces in a 360-degree immersive environment. VRstudios also offers virtual reality experiences for training programs and for games and recreation.

Despite the fact that virtual reality is still a very young industry, VRstudios is facing competition from various players in the virtual reality market in the Seattle area. Microsoft develops and sells the holographic HoloLens headset, while the HTC Vive headset is built in partnership with Bellevue video game company Valve. Equipment maker Oculus Rift opened a Seattle of ce last year, and Puget Sound companies such as Envelop VR, Atomic VR and Chronos VR also operate in the space.

Like VRstudios, some companies already are going after business customers.
Real estate developer Skanska, for example, paired with Studio 216, a Seattle-based digital agency, to create a mixed reality, holographic tour of a Skanska property in downtown Seattle using Microsoft’s HoloLens headsets.

VRstudios began shipping its platform in December. With the platforms ranging
in price from $50,000 to $200,000, Herrick said he expects to sell “several million” dollars of equipment and software this year.

The company is already getting into foreign markets. On Tuesday, VRstudios announced a distribution and product development partnership with Simuline,
a Seoul, South Korea-based company that develops motion-simulation rides.
Under the deal, Simuline will distribute VRstudio products and services, both directly to Simuline customers and indirectly through Simuline’s network of partners
and distributors.

Simuline will have the rights to represent VRstudios in the gaming and entertainment elds in South Korea and the Middle East, Herrick said.