Someday soon, employees might go through virtual job training without ever setting foot in their workplace. That already happens to some degree for industries like truck driving and oil rig maintenance.
However, improving virtual reality (VR) technology will make it a realistic option for many other occupations in the future. Thanks to companies like Strivr, those days aren’t far ahead. The virtual reality workplace training startup just completed a successful Series B funding round, raising $30 million in the process.
Area of Strength
Despite its promising potential, VR hasn’t caught on in the consumer world yet. No one can really figure out why. In the words of TechCrunch’s Lucas Matney, “Virtual reality has been two years away from mainstream adoption for the past six years.”
A huge array of companies have made significant investments in the VR space only to see it fizzle out. VR startups often follow a similar trajectory.
However, VR-based workplace training is an attractive sub-sector. It allows large corporations to train their new employees quickly, remotely, and with far lower operating costs than doing so in person. That’s part of the reason for Strivr’s success.
The young startup has raised $51 million to date, most of it coming in its latest Series B round. It was led by Georgian Partners with participation from several other venture capital firms.
Strivr CEO Derek Belch isn’t ignoring the reality of the VR industry. After noting that several firms his company approached were skeptical, he said, “Everyone knows that VR has been slower to adopt and tougher to anticipate.”
That makes it a risky investment. However, it appears that VR geared towards enterprise customers rather than consumers is finally getting some traction. Three other VR startups in the space have completed successful funding rounds upwards of $10 million in the past few months.
That’s good news not only for Strivr, but also for the VR industry as a whole.
Digitized Training Day
Belch first came up with the idea for Strivr following his time on the Stanford football team in 2014. He wanted to create a way for players to train off the field. While his company started out pursuing sports training, increased investment in the enterprise VR space caused Strivr to pivot to more generalized instruction.
Strivr’s typical offering includes a combination of 360-degree videos and CGI scenarios rich with opportunities for trainee interactions. Belch and his team have been careful to avoid phone-based videos and instead opt to deliver their training through headsets only. He says, “Those are not our disruption, those are gimmicky and a cheap way to bring a new logo on.”
So far, Strivr has built an impressive portfolio of clients including FedEx, JetBlue, Verizon, and BMW. However, none of those deals top a massive agreement with Walmart that was inked in 2017. The retail giant now uses Strivr’s VR training across its entire company.
The startup’s tech works exclusively on Oculus headsets, 22,000 of which are in the hands of employers. Belch says that Strivr has clocked 1.6 million training sessions to date.
Looking ahead, the company will use its latest investment to continue navigating the challenging VR industry. Belch says, “Thirty million doesn’t last very long if you’re stupid; we’re going to make sure we’re very smart about it.”