Virtual Gaming

Startup Costs: $100,000 +
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Franchises Available? No
Online Operation? Yes

The pandemic has made innovations in online social platforms more relevant and vital than ever. With communities spanning areas from gaming to health, finance to fiction writing, we are at a true inflection point for a sector that unites artists, creators, IRL clubs, social groups, and non-profits alike as valued customers.

Ask the Experts: Christopher Gulczynski, Co-founder and CEO of Niche, and Mauricio Teran Co-founder and VP Marketing of Emerge

What are the current trends in the social media community sector and what type of person is a great fit to try this?

Teran: Loneliness and isolation were already becoming a global crisis before the pandemic, and demand for tech that replaced in-person interactions grew substantially thereafter, of course, resulting in strong growth in consumer tech sales. On the gaming side, the industry reached new heights, driven by people seeking solace in associated communities — games becoming social tissue that connected friends. Then there was an inflection to mainstream VR driven by Meta Quest 2, as well as a race to build the metaverse from all major players, from Roblox and Epic to the big five tech giants.

The perfect people for this industry would be VR enthusiasts who love gathering and playing with friends and family, especially those who are separated by distance.

Gulczynski: Lots of companies are building for the small subculture these groups now represent, which exists largely for money speculation. The best person to try this would be someone who identifies as a digital cowboy.

Is the industry growing?

Gulczynski: By leaps and bounds every day.

Teran: According to Statista, in 2021 it was estimated that the global metaverse market was valued at (U.S.) $38.85 billion, and is expected to rise this year to $47.48 billion, before surging to $678.8 billion by 2030.

Related: Get the No.1 Guide to Starting Your Own Business

How much money can a person expect to make in the first year and in five years?

Gulczynski: Limitless, or nothing, and possibly lose everything you already have.

Teran: The metaverse will be host to just about any type of experience and opportunity. Today we have no real way of guessing how much a person can make on this new frontier.

What do you wish you’d known when you were starting out?

Teran: The most important thing to know about our business is the vision. We believe in a future where distance and time don't stand in the way of feeling present, and have spent the last six years researching different technologies and developing meaningful experiences towards that future. As to what we wish we’d known when starting… the timing (wouldn’t everyone?)! We originally thought 2018 to 2019 would be the inflection point, but in reality it turned out to be late 2021.

Gulczynski: The initial go-to-market penetration point is important to think through first… knowing who is that first audience.

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What kind of experience/training do you need to have?

Teran: No experience is needed. Emerge Home is an intuitive consumer product, all you need is to know how to operate a Meta Quest 2 VR headset.

Who are your customers?

Gulczynski: Artists, creators, IRL clubs, social groups, non-profits.

Teran: Our first customers are people who love to play and connect with others in VR, and those looking for new and unique tactile ways to have meaningful shared experiences. We find them through VR content creators, consumer tech product reviewers, in Discord and Reddit and in live events like SXSW where we showcase our product through live demos.

Are there any resources you recommend that were extremely valuable in getting your business off the ground?

Teran: The First Round Capital blog, Y Combinator resources, Masters of Scale Podcast, Brad Feld blog, the books The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers, by Ben Horowitz and Trillion Dollar Coach by Alan Eagle, Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg.

Gulczynski: Aversion to risk, experience in consumer social, previous success, independent wealth.

Related: Get the No.1 Guide to Starting Your Own Business

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