SFVR

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Creating the Largest VR Community in San Francisco

July 2013 - March 2017

 

I founded SFVR, the largest virtual reality developer community in San Francisco. I hosted over twenty events and the organization is still going strong under new leadership.

Inspiring Developer Community

SFVR started with humble beginnings in the basement of an art studio in 2013. From there, we grew to become the largest VR developer community in San Francisco. I used the platform to foster community, help others get funded and form teams, and encourage diversity in tech.

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Fun, Educational Events

SFVR focuses on three things: interesting conversations, educational presentations, and VR demos.

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Successful VR Networking

Many companies were formed and funded by meeting the right people at SFVR.

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Lots of Attendees

As we grew, our events became mini conferences featuring catering, press rooms, and booths.  

The Process

I’ve always had an interest in VR. When I was in middle school, I read a book about it that included work by Randy Pausch. I soldered a Nintendo Power Glove to interface with my PC so that I could try early VR experiences.

However, when the VR industry faded away in the late 1990’s, I decided to focus my career on other multimedia applications.

Once the Oculus DK1 arrived, I knew there was an opportunity for VR to come back. And, I wanted to connect with like-minded folks in my area to help that happen. No one was doing anything in San Francisco, so I created SFVR.

At first, we met in Anticlockwise’s art studio. It was a live/work space in the basement of an office building in Potrero Hill. Surprisingly, the first meetups were very successful. We had over 100 people at our first event.

Over time, the meetup grew from being extremely informal to quite formal. At our peak, our events were hosting 650 attendees.

I brought on two co-founders, and we grew and grew along with the VR industry.

However, the formality of the events really started to take a toll on me. I knew that I didn’t want to be a event promoter and full-time organizer. But, because SFVR had become a platform for VR companies to promote themselves, I was being pushed to become a professional events manager.

So, when Christian Plagemann approached me to co-found the Udacity VR program, I took the opportunity and decided to stop hosting SFVR events.

Creating SFVR was an experience that I will never forget. I learned about managing the expectations of hundreds of customers while keeping things fun and interesting. I learned about sales, partnerships, and investment. And, throughout it all, I kept my love of VR and AR.

Links

Keywords: Community, VR, Programming, San Francisco, Management, Startups

Matt Sonic