#150: Tipatat Chennavasin on the River VR Accelerator by Rothenberg Ventures

tipatatTipatat Chennavasin is the creative director of the River virtual reality accelerator by Rothenberg Ventures. Rothenberg Ventures funded 13 different VR companies with $100,000 each as a part of their first class.

They’re currently accepting applications for their next incubator class through June, and they’ll be announcing the next class of companies sometime after July 4th.

Some of the benefits of being in the River VR accelerator include having three months in the co-working facilities in San Francisco and access to the River advisors and the team at Rothenberg Ventures. The intention of River is to help VR companies grow, and he talks about the history of the River accelerator program and how he originally got involved with it. Mike Rothenberg saw that there was a lot of potential for being an early-stage VC to support emerging virtual reality companies get started.

He talks about some of the characteristics that River is looking for including passion for VR, patience since it’s still early days for VR, and finding people that feel compelled to create their visions in VR regardless of whether they’re funded or not. He talks about the collaborative spirit of the first class and how the community formed amongst the participants of the first River program.

He talks about some of the apps and market potentials of virtual reality beyond just gaming, and some of the open problems including input and positional tracking, and doing VR-based presentations, memory palaces, and popular topics that have a lot of brand love like his Unofficial Pokemon VR game.

Some of the advice that he gives to VR companies includes making sure that the demo has a high-enough frame rate, to not make people sick in your demo, and that you have to be scrappy and lean since there’s not a lot of investment checks being written right now. Also, you have to really ask “Why does this experience need to be in VR?” It’s not enough that it’s cool, and you have to go beyond the novelty and it has to be more efficient, effective and add value by having it be immersive.

Some of the unique characteristics of VR include scale for buying products, 360-degree experiences and using your head to looking around, you can give dreamlike experiences in VR and making dream experiences in reality.

He’d like to see easier ways of doing animation in VR in a more intuitive fashion. He’s also looking forward to detective games, memory palace applications, and time travel to historical events to feel like you’re a part of it.

Part of the power of VR is to be able to see through your eyes and walk in your shoes, and how VR really is an empathy machine as Chris Milk has said. VR will help us understand ourselves, our brains, and our minds in a better way from curing phobias and other neuroscience applications. He sees that VR could help enable an experience-based economy that can replicate travel or owning things in a way that’s could be more sustainable.

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