The Virtuix Omni Before Shark Tank
If you’re a techie like me, there’s no doubt you’ve heard of any of the various virtual reality headsets – the HTC Vive, partnered with Valve, the Oculus Rift, the Sony Morpheus headset, and there’s bound to be some I’m missing (Google Cardboard, anybody?) However, there’s always one glaring question for those who know a lot about virtual reality headsets; How do you move around safely, protecting your $500+ investment, while also not damaging your house? Enter the Virtuix Omni, which is the first ever omni-directional treadmill with no moving parts. The Virtuix Omni is meant to serve as a companion for virtual reality, providing its user with a safe space to move about in a completely free, 360 degree way. Read on more to find out about the Virtuix Omni.
The Virtuix Omni on Shark Tank
Jan Goetgeluk is the founder of Virtuix Omni. Jan is seeking a $2 million dollar investment for a 10% stake in his business.
Standing next to Jan is the Omni, the first ever virtual reality platform that allows the user to become part of the video game. The Omni is the first-ever omnidirectional treadmill for video games, but they have removed all the moving parts – there are no moving parts. Instead of parts, the user instead slips on a pair of shoes that have a low-friction sole. To demonstrate, Jan has brought Steve, a member of Virtuix him him, who will demonstrate to the Sharks how the Omni works. The Omni can play any existing game with a keyboard and mouse setup, and also supports most of the new upcoming virtual reality technology. Once in the Omni, put on the virtual reality glasses, and you are now immersed in the video game.
The Omni allows the user to run, walk, jump, and crouch, all within 360 degrees of confinement. The Omni
works to put the user into whichever video game world they try – Steve plays a short sample tech demo of a generic First Person Shooter game, which demonstrates how the Omni allows for complete freedom of movement without causing any danger to the user. Jan elaborates further, saying virtual reality has never really broken through because the technology wasn’t ready, but this is on the verge of changing as the technology has come, and now it is the Omni’s turn.
Jan calls on Robert for looking excited, and asks if he wants to try it; of course, Robert accepts and nearly sprints up to the stand to suit up and step into the Omni. The sharks all have comments towards how silly Robert looks and how much he loves the product, and Robert remarks that it is extremely immersive and very cool to have as a toy. Robert also asks about the price of each Omni, and Jan replies that each Omni unit only costs $499. Barb remarks that the Omni is cheaper than she would have thought, and Mark asks how many Omnis have been sold; in a Kickstarter through raising $1.1 million dollars, more than 3,000 Omni units were made and are set up to be delivered when production is complete.
Daymond asks if Robert was winded when he was up there, and Robert replies that he was a little winded but not for lack of knowledge on how to use the Omni. Jan replies that frequent users of the Omni will find themselves becoming more and more in shape due to the actual movement of the Omni, and guys who play games will no longer be relegated to sitting around all day. The Omni is a new way for gamers to exercise and play games at the same time. Barb asks if Jan has officially advertised the Omni as a weight loss machine, but Jan says that he is thinking of the Omni as having both uses, but is not actively advertising the weight loss portion.
Mark says that the biggest issue so far with the Virtuix Omni is that the Omni is based around the Oculus Rift, which Barb asks for more details about – Jan explains that the Oculus Rift is the most popular, most well-known prototype of a virtual reality headset. She then asks if the Oculus Rift is included in the $499 price, with Jan says that it is not included, but can be bought separately for the price for $300. The gun prop that both Robert and Steve used is also available as a side prop for around $50, but does not come with the Virtuix Omni. Kevin points out that this is sounding like an $800 or $900 investment just for a toy, and then asks how Jan came to the $20 million valuation.
Jan explains that the Oculus Rift is the target market for this product, and no one else – at the time of the
filming of this episode, the Rift was selling around 200 units per day, and project to do 500,000 in sales in 2014 alone. If they convert 1 in 25 buyers to also purchasing the Virtuix Omni, that right there nets them 2000 buyers – nearly $10 million in sales. Robert remarks that when the user purchases the Oculus Rift, they can still sit around and lounge – they do not have to get exercise in order to get full use out of the Virtuix Omni, and he feels that the demand for such virtual reality items are not yet at the point where people are going to go crazy.
Kevin says that he is just being realistic on the numbers, and Barb offers her input; if her husband brought
the Virtuix Omni into the house, she would divorce him immediately. She thinks that is a problem because of the size, and finds its size a tremendous problem in retail – few retailers are going to want to offer the floorspace to the Omni, and Jan already paid a ton of money to have an Omni located to the Shark Tank filming location. The thing is heavy, unwieldy and really stands out, and 50% of the population is married, so for that reason, Barb is out.
Daymond offers his input; Call of Duty Black Ops did amazing, Grand Theft Auto broke numerous records, but Daymond says he cannot see anyone playing the Omni for more than an hour or two a day because when they are out of breath, they are physically exhausted and can no longer use the system that they paid nearly $500 for. They won’t revisit it, so for these reasons, Daymond is also out.
Robert remarks that he will definitely buy one, but he thinks that he is an anomaly; he does not think that people want to exercise and immerse themselves in the physical world to that degree – if people really wanted to immerse themselves, they could go outside. Robert is out as well.
Kevin comments that he sees where Jan wants to take the market – a subset of a subset market, which is very niche. However, Kevin is very grounded in reality and has asked himself if the investment of the Virtuix Omni is good right now, and his gut is telling him that the investment is a bad idea since Jan is evaluating his company’s value at what it might be worth in two years from now. There is too much risk between the delivery of the consumer product, the retailer distribution strategy, and the sales – Kevin is out.
Mark is the last Shark standing – he says that he gets what Jan is doing since he is a fanatic of virtual reality himself, but Jan is going to be competing just like consoles and now virtual reality headsets are competing. The virtual reality treadmill market might be the next competition, and Mark comments that Jan has not shown or given him any direction on how Jan intends for the Virtuix Omni to stand out from all the other competitors and get the ball rolling to the point of eventually hitting $50 million in sales and beyond. Plus, in six years, there is going to be a whole new batch of technology that makes the current technology redundant – for these reasons, Mark is also out.
Jan does not find the $2 million investment he came into the Shark Tank for.
The Virtuix Omni Now in 2018 – The After Shark Tank Update
I’m a little surprised that neither Mark nor Robert invested in the Virtuix Omni. Despite the lack of investment, the Virtuix Omni still sold quite well – regardless of the appearance on Shark Tank, it was guaranteed to sell well. However, couple the fact that the Omni is a desirable product with the VR fad, and this market was guaranteed to sell. The Virtuix Omni is available for $699, and includes the following:
- 1 Virtuix Omni
- Omni Shoes
- Omni Tracking Pods and tracking software
- Omni Harness
- 1 year limited warranty
- TRAVR and other demo games
No sales numbers could be found, but Jan’s attachment rate is a great identifier – thanks to numerous other VR headsets coming out, assuming that 1 in 25 or even 50 customers also purchases the Virtuix Omni, the Omni should be around for a long time to come and blaze the way for new technology to assist in virtual reality immersion.
“Jan explains that the Oculus Rift is the most popular, most well-known prototype of a virtual reality headset.” I hope this statement was taken quite some time ago.. as the HTC Vive is destroying Oculus in public approval, and likely overall sales too… Would be self-destructive to see Virtuix ignore Vive…