Shawn Whiting and Hayden Lee were set to move to San Francisco earlier this summer as they prepared to accelerate development of their virtual reality platform. The Convrge co-founders, who are building a virtual reality world for friends to hang out within, were already spending money and time on flights to San Francisco for meetings and conferences, so they decided to actually just move there.
“We liked San Francisco because we have a lot of friends out there in tech,” Whiting said. “It’s also the center of the virtual reality scene and the center of funding/venture capital.”
But that’s when a few people reached out and touted Seattle, both from a work and livability perspective. “The people we were meeting from Seattle seemed very intelligent and down to earth,” added Whiting.
Eventually, the co-founders were convinced they needed to settle down in the Northwest.
“Being able to hop on a plane to San Francisco for $200 was nice, being able to live much cheaper than the Bay Area was nice, the proximity to Valve and the other big gaming companies was nice, and the access to world class game developers sounded great,” Whiting said.
Whiting added that “beautiful parks, mountains, and hiking” was also a plus, as was the proximity to Portland and Vancouver B.C., where there are large virtual reality communities and software developers available to hire.
“We’ve been here for about three weeks now and can already tell we definitely made the right choice,” Whiting said.
Seattle is certainly home to not only a budding gaming scene, but also companies building virtual reality technologies, from big names like Valve, Microsoft, and Oculus to smaller startups like Envelop VR, Pluto VR, and Endeavor One.
As for Convrge, the young 2-person startup is building a virtual reality world where users can hang out with friends, play games, and attend events. Whiting and Lee came up with the idea after meeting at Virginia Tech and learning about virtual reality.
“We discovered that the coolest experiences always ended up being those where you were interacting with other people,” Whiting said. “After we graduated, we went full time on creating the best way to hang out with your friends in virtual reality and haven’t looked back.”
Convrge, which is bootstrapped, already has users from around the world and will attract up to 1,000 people per week on a busy week, Whiting said.
“We’re focusing on comfort and performance more than anyone else,” he added. “We used a low poly design aesthetic for our world, which means it runs smoothly on almost any machine, allowing our users to stay in the world for long periods of time without feeling any of the ill effects often associated with virtual reality.”
Check out the Convrge experience with the video below: