At the SURF Incubator, we have the pleasure of being home to some of the most innovative and inspiring startup companies in the US. NullSpace VR is one of these unique and thrilling businesses. Recently, CEO, Morgan Sinko, Jordan Brooks (CTO), and Lucian Copeland (COO) took a major next step in growing their business, by launching a Kickstarter campaign for the ultimate virtual reality experience with the Hardlight Suit. (They started out with a $80,000 kick-starter goal, as of publishing time they are at $132,000!)
In this #SURF360, I sat down with Sinko to learn the story of the NullSpace VR company, some challenges they have faced, glean advice for startup companies getting funding and much more.
Q: Tell us a bit about NullSpace VR! How did you get started and how’s the journey been so far?
We started out of the Robotics lab at the University of Rochester. I originally proposed the idea after watching my brother struggle with motion control games on the Xbox Kinect. The project blew up after a few showings at competitions and expos. We then raised a seed round as we were graduating from our University and moved out to Seattle. We landed here at SURF and that has led us to where we are now. The journey has been amazing, a roller coaster sure, but amazing. For every stressful moment, there are two moments of “I love my job.”
Q: What is the problem you’re trying to solve for with the new Hardlight VR suit? Looks awesome but how is it unique?
The suit is about solving the issue of having a presence in VR. Being actually able to feel that you are there, definitely requires the sense of touch. Nothing else on the market does what the Hardlight suit does. Positional feedback, location-based haptics, and a tracking suite allow it to allow you to interact with full humans rather than disembodied heads. Haptic brings a layer of touch so that when you get hit, that immersion doesn’t just fade away.
Q: Any tips for start-ups on how to leverage Kickstarter for getting funding?
The main point is to go into crowdfunding with the right attitude in mind. The goal not being to make a huge amount of money, but rather getting to gauge your audience and let them gauge you as well. Kickstarter allows for a far more personal approach to a product launch, but it also comes with extra baggage.
Q: Now that you’re nearing your funding goal, what’s next for NullSpace VR?
The main focus following will be meeting and exceeding our promises to backers. There is an unfortunate history of mistrust between crowd funded hardware and those that back it. Through both transparency and following up on our promises we want to heal some of those wounds.
Q: VR is such a popular space right now, especially in Seattle so what advice would you give to budding developers or creators who want to break through?
Jonathan Palmer, our internal game developer, told me what he had learned from working in the industry is you have to show up! And that you keep showing up! Once you are present, then everything becomes easier. When you can establish yourself as a worker and as a driver, then you can work with others in the space as an equal.
Thank you, Morgan,
For more #SURF360 interviews with entrepreneurs and companies resident here at SURF, check back to the SURF blog soon.