Sometimes, to win, you have to play the long game. XR technology is an exciting field but it isn’t ubiquitous yet. Unfortunately, ubiquity is where investors want something to be before they put money in it.
The Glimpse Group has a unique business model that allows them to warm investors to the idea of supporting XR technology. The Glimpse Group CEO, Lyron Bentovim, told ARPost all about his multi-year game plan.
The Tricky World of XR Technology Markets
Imagine you’re an investor. You’d love to be in on the next big thing, like XR technology, but you need returns now. Usually, the way to ensure safe and timely returns is to invest in an established market. It’s not as exciting or as potentially profitable as investing in the next best thing – but it’s a safer bet. Suppose you do want to take a risk. The best way to do that is by investing in diverse companies. However, that involves investing in multiple companies and you’ve only got so much money to spread around.
Now, put yourself in the other set of shoes. You’re with an XR technology startup. You have a great idea for the next big thing. However, making the next big thing involves having money. No one wants to invest because you don’t have much to show them yet. It’s a catch-22: you can’t design without money and you can’t get money without a product.
This is the world of XR technology. That doesn’t mean that it’s going to stay in this gridlock forever. Every major technology has been through this. Fortunately, Lyron Bentovim has a solution.
The Glimpse Group
“In the spring of 2016, it started growing on me that AR and VR, together with AI, is the next big tech cycle,” says Bentovim. “I looked around and found my co-founder, DJ [Smith], who was one of the big players in New York, and we really connected.”
The Glimpse Group is made up of 10 New York-based XR technology startups.
“Some of them were startups on their own and we bought them and brought them in, some of them spun off internally,” says Bentovim. “Most of the companies came to us. When companies see what they get when they come to Glimpse and the people they get to work with, it’s really attractive to them.”
These startups offer varied services from healthcare to data, to marketing and VR training. That means that investors can have a diverse XR technology portfolio just by investing in The Glimpse Group. It also means that the companies within Glimpse can get close without stepping on each other’s toes.
“One of the biggest benefits that these companies get is being a part of the ecosystem; being surrounded by entrepreneurs who understand what you’re doing but aren’t competing with you,” says Bentovim. “If anyone here succeeds, everyone succeeds.”
The system also means that individual companies are free to focus on their products. Meanwhile, The Glimpse Group board does things like securing funding. But, there’s still the problem of how Bentovim and his team get investors on board.
Getting Investors on Board
The first approach is to pitch Glimpse as a conventional investment made up of unconventional companies. This maintains the promise of investing in an emerging market while soothing fears about investing in emerging companies.
“We show them what we’ve built. We have something unique and it’s very accessible for them,” explains Bentovim. “We’re looking at this as developing a company rather than developing a product.”
The second approach is what Bentovim calls “selling the dream.” It has to do with the fears and excitement of investing in a market that is in infancy rather than maturity.
“Being early is a lot like being wrong. It’s like if you get invited to a party at 8 o’clock and you show up at 2 so you’re just standing in a room by yourself,” says Bentovim. “It’s kind of the same when outside investors want to put money in a project but the market isn’t there yet.”
The good news is that Bentovim and early investors know that the party is on its way. The party, according to Bentovim, really gets started in the next three to five years.
When the Party Starts
“The main driver is hardware,” says Bentovim. “If you look at previous tech cycles, they all kind of took off when the hardware got to the point where the technology was big enough for it to be convenient for everybody.”
The example that he gives here is cell phones. The first mobile phone came out in the mid 80s. Ten years later, about 10% of the market had mobile phones. Now, they’re everywhere.
“Cars, TV, radios, all of those things took a while for the hardware to get to the point where everyone wanted one and everyone could afford one,” explains Bentovim. “There has never been an item that hit the market and two years later everyone had one.”
Right now, everyone might want XR technology but much of the hardware is still prohibitively expensive for the average person. As soon as the technology has developed to the point where everyone can afford it, the market will open up.
The future of XR technology is a matter of speculation. The future of The Glimpse Group is already on paper. Bentovim plans on opening more hubs and working with more businesses.