Last month, Rothenberg Ventures launched ‘River’, an accelerator through which they committed to investing $100,000 in 10 seed-stage virtual reality startups. Today the company has announced that its decided to bump the inaugural class count up to 13, totalling $1.3 million of investment in the VR ecosystem. Companies joining River hail from countries across the globe, including FOVE, from Japan, a company working on a VR headset capable of eye tracking.
The River VR accelerator opened its doors to applications in December. From some 200 applications, the River team whittled away to 13 companies who would be offered a $100,000 investment, three months of workspace at Rothenberg Ventures’ office in San Francisco, and access to a lineup of 24 mentors. Spearheading the River accelerator is Rothenberg Ventures’ Tipatat Chennavasin, Anarghya Vardhana, Dylan Flinn, and Morgan Holland, along with founder Mike Rothenberg and others at the VC firm.
“The companies we didn’t take were still really capable and exciting. We could have had a class twice as big and it wouldn’t have been diluted, but we wanted to make sure we could give each the appropriate attention,” said Rothenberg.
Applications to join River came in from every continent, Rothenberg told me.
“We’ve literally never invested outside of the US. And [with River] we’ve done it 6 or 7 times, all in VR,” he said. “It’s time for us to play well together. [Venture capitalists] do have a very US centric view in the VC ecosystem, partly because there is a lot of investors here, but I think VR could be the level-setter—you can build experiences anywhere and you can be anywhere. It is global and we want to invest globally.”
Indeed, most of River’s investments are going into companies based outside of the US. Those of you following along on the Road to VR will note some familiar names included in River’s first group of VR investments:
Creating a VR headset with eye-tracking
DeepStream VR (Healthcare)
VR games for pain relief and rehabilitation
Emblematic Group (Journalism)
Recreating non-fiction events in VR
Platform for mental health practitioners to help patients cure fears using immersion therapy in VR
SDK (Training and Travel)
Industrial training and travel in VR
Platform for exploration, discovery and creativity, developer of World of Comenius
EmergentVR (Social Media)
Application to create, edit and share 360 VR experiences with the world using mobile phones[/one-half-first][one-half]
Vantage VR (Entertainment)
180-degree viewing experience for concerts and live events
360-degree capture camera and system
Reload Studios (Entertainment)
Game studio of developers and artists from Disney and Call of Duty
High quality content focused on artistic and cultural expression
Immersive learning experiences about exploring the ancient world
Thotwise (Entertainment) – Game studio focusing on exploration and suspense, developer of The Hum[/one-half][clear-line]
Each company will be working at least partly in the Rothenberg Ventures office and will meet weekly for a mentor dinner. At the end of the three month program, the 13 startups will be part of Rothenberg Ventures’ ‘Founder Field Day’ event held at AT&T Park in April 2015, followed by an SVVR demo day in May 2015.
Mike Rothenberg told me exclusively that the VC firm is already on the verge of committing to a second River class for 2015.
“We will do a second batch. We did get 200 applications and the quality was really high. We’ll probably allow rolling applications always, and then the next batch— I’m sure we’ll have to have a couple months in between—but if it happens, it’ll happen again this year.”
Interested in joining? Learn more at the River website.