STRIVR Labs, the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company that excels in training NFL and college football players using virtual reality, announced Wednesday it has raised $5 million to enhance its sports offering and expand to new markets.
The company plans to use the investment led by Signia Venture Partners to hire more people in order to move the business forward from a product development standpoint and “allow us to move quicker to new innovations,” according to STRIVR co-founder and CEO Derek Belch.
More than 25 professional and college teams across football, basketball and hockey use STRIVR in off-the-field preparation. Now the company plans to expand its offering to corporations and organizations that could benefit from experiential learning. The platform expansion has already had STRIVR working with “a handful of Fortune 500 companies on comprehensive training programs utilizing VR,” according to the company.
“I think this is about a lot more than teams being customers,” Belch said. “There are so many opportunities here — fans, entertainment, human resources, professional development.”
STRIVR’s enterprise-focused product uses VR and augmented reality to help educate and train in areas like sales, operations, customer service, safety and human resources. The content is viewed with regular VR headsets like Oculus and Samsung Gear VR. A less-immersive version is also available on mobile and tablet. STRIVR uses data and assessment tools to assess learner performance, enabling organizations to make data-driven decisions.
“Training and assessment is important not only in sports, but in every kind of business vertical,” Zaw Thet, a founding parter at Signia who has joined the STRIVR board of directors, said in a statement. “VR is here to stay and the pace of innovation in the hardware means it’s easy for any enterprise customer to get on-board instantly.”
The Series A round also saw participation from Shari Redstone’s AdvancIt Capital, BMW i Ventures, Presence Capital and other tech and sports influencers. Belch said the funds would also be used to try to make a push into building more applications for sports beyond football, as the fluidity of basketball, hockey and soccer are more difficult to simulate in a virtual environment.
But sports is also an entry point into STRIVR’s hope to make a greater impact in human performance in the retail, automotive, manufacturing, hospitality, public service and healthcare industries.
“STRIVR’s foundation in science and learning theory and its success in sports will help us succeed in many different areas where repetition is essential to learning a job or skill,” STRIVR co-founder and Stanford professor Jeremy Bailenson said in a statement.