The Rothenberg Ventures Virtual Reality Experience
Accelerator. Incubator. You hear these terms all the time when living in the Bay Area. But what do they actually mean? According to Wikipedia, startup accelerators are "fixed-term, cohort-based programs, that include mentorship and educational components and culminate in a public pitch event or demo day." But what is it actually like, what will you and your company experience at one? The answer is, it depends on which one you join. Ideally, it's led by a group that understands your industry intimately and is willing to take big risks to support the visionaries of an early market. At the time we started working on the idea behind Emergent VR, there were no accelerators focused on virtual reality. Then, we were introduced by a colleague to Rothenberg Ventures.
We had been working on VR for about two years, so finding the first VR accelerator program seemed like a perfect fit. We agreed to meet the Rothenberg team at their HQ in the SoMa district of San Francisco and were impressed with their casual professionalism and directness. These were people we felt we could work with and relate to, and in the end we were fortunate enough to receive an offer to join River 1. Simultaneously, our founding team had another offer to lead a new team in an executive capacity at a very large technology company. This was a killer opportunity that most people would jump at, but at the end of the day we declined and went with Rothenberg Ventures. We couldn't say no to the level of support, enthusiasm, passion and backing that Rothenberg provided.
For a technology as early as VR, it's critical to find investors that believe in the market potential, have a strong vision for what VR can become, and are willing to take risks on early stage companies because they believe in you. VR is so early that most investors will opt-out, citing that you are "too early". What this really means is, "we don't really know much about VR one way or the other, and because you don't have solid metrics or traction yet, we're going to pass". Many VCs have already missed out on amazing companies with stellar founding teams and killer visions, because they haven't studied VR long enough. RV doesn't have this problem. They have personally and professionally been focused on VR longer than any other fund, making them the best partner an early stage VR startup could ask for.