While companies like Magic Leap and Oculus Rift are spending millions of dollars to develop their new Virtual Reality products and VR startups are raising enormous amounts of money from venture capitalists and angel investors, many people may wonder, "How can I get in the game? Are there any small-business VR ideas with no or very little startup cost?"
Yes, there are a few ways you can start a new business in virtual reality with very little investment. Here are a few ideas for starting a virtual reality business now.
1. Rent out virtual reality headsets.
Virtual reality headsets are pretty pricey right now. Oculus Rift units cost $600, and the HTC Vive goes as high as $800, plus the powerful computer you'll need to use either one. That means that virtual reality headsets are more of a luxury item than an everyday device.
That's how it was with smartphones and even personal computers in the very beginning. Since hardware is not that affordable yet, but people are still interested in experiencing VR, you could start a businesses offering VR headsets and PC rentals. Your business can target those who want to try the new technology but still aren't quite sure if they want to invest money in buying their own.
2. Create theater or arcade experiences.
Virtual reality theaters and pop-ups are opening worldwide right now, attracting both attention and customers. This option will require a bit more of investment -- you will need to find a venue as well as buy equipment. But once you find a space, you can create a pop-up movie theater where people sit with VR headsets and enjoy 360 degree videos, virtual reality photo galleries with 360 degree pictures from great photographers, or try-out studios where they can come to experience Oculus Rift or HTC vive. With new VR products coming online all the time, charging for them as entertainment can be profitable.
3. Sell cardboard-like VR headsets.
Google cardboard is one of the most popular VR viewers because it's very cheap compared to other, more advanced headsets. It has a lot of liabilities, however. It's not very convenient to wear, requires an additional strap and if you use it often enough, at some point you will need to buy a new one. After all, it's cardboard. A lot of companies, especially in China started producing their own version of popular viewers. With a little startup capital, you can buy those headsets wholesale and sell them retail via Amazon or at a retail location.
4. Build a VR community.
Create and host local meet-up events, conferences, lectures, fairs and other social events related to VR. Once you have a brand and a decent audience, you can sell access to advertisers and companies who make VR products -- there are already a ton of them, and there will be more.
5. Create VR related content.
In VR, people are craving interesting content. As a startup, you can create a professional YouTube channel or blog reviewing the latest available technology, observing conferences, exhibitions, games and movies. Winning a sizeable audience can allow you to monetize it -- and your influence -- later.
While big companies and VR startups with a significant funding are trying to invent something and create new, fascinating technology, entrepreneurs can still jump into growing the virtual reality market without big investment.