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To compete with tech giants, Strivr opens its VR platform

Derek Belch, founder and CEO of VR startup Strivr, is opening up its platform to accelerate corporate VR training adoption and expand content options.

Strivr Labs Inc. is a virtual reality for sports training startup founded in 2015 that started off working with NBA and NFL teams. But a year later, it gained a new kind of customer -- Walmart, which adopted its VR system to train employees. Verizon and Bank of America followed, among others, in adopting its platform. 

But Strivr is one of the smaller fish swimming in a growing pond of large companies moving deeper into the corporate learning market, including Microsoft and Meta. 

To help it compete, Strivr is building a partner network for enterprise deployment of its VR technology. It is opening up its platform to make it easier for third-party providers to develop content and for services and technology providers to support the adoption of its VR technology. 

This month, it unveiled partnership agreements with companies including VMware, Qualcomm and Accenture, as well as headset maker Pico among others. Strivr uses Oculus, owned by Meta, and Pico headsets on its platform. 

Building an ecosystem

VR training requires headsets, software, content, data analytics and consulting services, "and we need to plug into a lot of the systems out there," said Derek Belch, founder and CEO of Strivr, based in Palo Alto, Calif.

Partnerships have been working out for Strivr. Belch pointed to the relationship with Meta and Oculus, for example, calling it "a fruitful relationship." Accenture is an investor, and so is Workday. Strivr is now working with Workday on a formal integration.

As of today, we are working with these companies, we're not competing with them.
Derek BelchFounder and CEO, Strivr

"As of today, we are working with these companies, we're not competing with them," he said.

With VMware, Belch said that users can manage headsets using mobile device management under the same umbrella as tablets and other mobile devices. 

The relationship with Qualcomm, which makes semiconductors and wireless technology products, and is a maker of VR device chips, enables Strivr to provide feedback on "what is happening and not happening out in the field," which may help with future chip design, Belch said. 

Josh Bersin, an HR analyst, said Strivr's VR system is proprietary, as are all VR platforms, because "there are no standards for any of this, so Strivr is trying to create an ecosystem." 

Strivr "essentially pioneered the corporate VR market," and "their clients want more options -- different goggles, the opportunity to use other development partners, connecting the Strivr system into their [learning management system] and other infrastructure" and use it as their own internal development tool, Bersin said. 

Bersin compares Strivr's decision to open its platform as being similar to Apple's decision to create an app store.

Strivr, which expects to expand its partner network, said its system has trained more than 1 million workers at various companies.

Initial adopters are larger companies with money to spend on customized VR learning. "The content creation is the most expensive part," Belch said. 

For the midmarket and smaller companies, "there is not a robust library of off-the-shelf VR content," Belch said. "It's not as cost-prohibitive as it was a few years ago, but we're still not at the point where it is ready to go for the world of SMBs."

As far as how Strivr will coexist with tech giants, Belch said that's something to be determined.

"Sometimes startups like us compete with big companies like Microsoft, sometimes we partner with them, sometimes they call us and say, 'We want to acquire you,'" Belch said. "It's too early to say how we are going to compete with the larger players." 

Patrick Thibodeau covers HCM and ERP technologies for TechTarget Editorial. He's worked for more than two decades as an enterprise IT reporter.

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