Co-founders pose with a sign for UpNext, the startup they sold to Amazon, on their last day at the e-commerce giant. They went on to found Viro Media. (From left: Raj Advani, Danny Moon, Robin Har, and Vik Advani. Viro Media Photo)
Danny Moon believes we’re on the cusp of a virtual reality revolution that’s held back by a lack of content. Getting more VR experiences on the market was the impetus for the Viro Media, a startup he co-founded with longtime partners Raj and Vik Advani and Robin Har in 2015. Their goal is “democratizing VR development,” Moon said.
Viro just closed a $2.5 million funding round to bring on more developers and accelerate that vision. The cash will go toward building out Viro’s framework, which enables developers to create virtual reality apps and experiences using programming tools they already know.
“Our stack is our own 3D render engine combined with React Native so it’s a familiar open-source framework from Facebook that lots of web and mobile developers are familiar with,” Moon said. “Now they can leverage their skills to start building for VR.”
The round was led by Lowercase Capital, SoftBank NYC, and Eniac Ventures with participation from Presence Capital, Box Group, Betaworks, Rugged Ventures.
Prior to Viro, the company’s four co-founders launched and built UpNext, a 3D mapping startup that sold to Amazon in 2012. The team stayed on at Amazon for a few years, helping to incorporate the technology into Kindle tablets and the now-defunct Fire Phone.
“We have always been very interested in 3D visualization technologies and when we saw VR, we immediately knew this is where we wanted to go,” Moon said. “We started building apps on some of the game engines and while we believe they’re great tools, they didn’t service the need we were looking for. We wanted to build more content-focused, dynamic and interactive applications. So rather than build the app we decided to build the framework.”
Viro’s seven-person team is headquartered at the WeWork Westlake co-working space in Seattle.
Watch Viro Media’s launch video below.