Virtuix Omni Ships First Units, Plans Possible Crowdfunding Round

Virtuix Omni, the Houston-born virtual gaming company, has a special affinity for crowdfunding.

On its way to its second appearance at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, founder and CEO Jan Goetgeluk says the company—now based in Austin, TX—is considering using newly passed Jobs Act investing rules to solicit money from everyday investors.

“We’re exploring to do a big series A round, but Regulation A might be a good option for us given that we are built by a passionate community of enthusiasts,” he says. “We often get a question from community, How can we invest? And we have had to turn them down. That feels contrary to our culture.”

Last year, the SEC changed one of its rules, Regulation A, to allow companies to crowdfund up to $50 million from investors across states, an amount that some observers liken to a “mini-IPO.” Before the changes, the rule capped these investments at $5 million and required companies to spend the time and money to register its offering in each state where it planned to raise money.

Virtuix got its start in 2013 through a Kickstarter campaign in which it raised $1.1 million and pre-sold more than 3,500 of its Omni treadmills, which, when paired with an Oculus Rift reality headset, enables players to control their characters’ movements by walking, running, jumping, and turning on a platform.

Since then, the startup has built up a backlog of 5,000 units and raised more than $8 million from investors such as Dallas Mavericks owner and tech billionaire Mark Cuban. Virtuix shipped out its first Omni last month and plans to delivery another 50 units to Kickstarter backers this month. “We will ramp up production gradually and get through the backlog,” Goetgeluk says. “It will take several months.”

While at the CES convention, Goetgeluk will be actively gauging interest from individual investors. “We’ll be asking potential investors to indicate their interest to invest,” he adds. “This could replace the traditional Series A.”

In the meantime, Virtuix is putting down roots in Austin where it relocated in July from Houston, where Goetgeluk founded the company at his kitchen table in 2013. The main reason for the move? Engineering talent, he says.

“The main element is that in Austin you have great engineering talent that is used to working for startups, for the uncertainty of a startup,” he says. “It’s much harder to find engineers to do that in Houston.”

 

Angela Shah is the editor of Xconomy Texas. She can be reached at ashah@xconomy.com or (214) 793-5763. Follow @angelashah

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