Interview with Ekto VR about its magical shoes to walk in VR

In my article about the craziest XR devices out there, I mentioned Ekto VR, the shoes that let you walk in real life to walk in virtual reality. After that article, Brad Factor, the CEO of EktoVR, contacted me to tell me that there have been a lot of updates in the device since the last time I tried them. I got very curious, so I proposed to him to have an interview so he could explain to me his product, his vision, and his company in general.

He was very kind to accept and to dedicate some time to show me the new version of the shoes and to explain what is Ekto today and what can be in the future. I was impressed by what they have been able to achieve with limited funding and I truly hope they will be able to get more money to continue the development of this device.

You find the integral version of the video interview here below, with a slightly edited transcript, so that you can choose if you want to watch the interview or read it. There are some parts on the video call where he shows the shoes, so I’ll add some screenshots and GIFs to the transcription to make you understand everything better, but of course, that part is better enjoyed in the video. Enough talking on my side, enjoy the kindness of Brad Factor and his description of the cool-and-a-bit-crazy Ekto VR!

My full chat with Brad Factor, the CEO of Ekto VR
Tony: Hello everyone from Tony, the SkarredGhost. I’m very happy to be here today with Brad Factor from EktoVR who will talk with us about the amazing things he does. Hello, Brad. How is life?

Brad: Hey, Tony. Going well. How about you?

Tony: It’s great. Spring is coming, so I’m very happy and I’m even happier to know more about your latest developments. Because you and I met at AWE… I guess was three years ago probably…

Brad: It’s coming up on that, yes.

Tony:  …and I was able to try the amazing product that we can see in front of you on the table. You told me that you have amazing updates to share, because three years is a lot of time for a tech startup. Let’s go step-by-step: I’m very curious, but maybe someone doesn’t know Ekto yet, so can you maybe describe a bit what you do?
Me trying the Ekto VR shoes at AWE a few years ago

Brad: Yes. From a vision level, we’re fulfilling the sci-fi promise of virtual reality, but so many of us in this space are doing very similar things. Our particular focus today is on movement. Call it mobility, call it locomotion, but we make wearable robotics, which got us to the two different versions of our VR boots on the table in front of me here. You put them on over your shoes, you put on a VR headset, and you walk, and you feel like you are actually going where you’re trying to go in the virtual world and experiencing it from a natural intuitive perspective. In real life, you are staying inside of a 10 by 10 foot or 3 by 3 meter space. All of that is done through a combination of sensing and robotics and a lot of technological magic that we’re pretty proud of.

ekto vr two models
The two models of Ekto VR shown in the interview: the old one (on the left), and the latest one (on the right)
Tony: How does it work? How can you walk in real life and not go towards the wall in real life, but instead walk in VR?

Brad: Right. It’s like we filled the room with an omnidirectional treadmill, but it is on your feet. There are wheels on the bottom of each of our boots, they’re motorized, they’re controlled. When you’re standing still, the wheels are standing still. It’s like you’re on solid ground. As you start to walk, the wheels go in the opposite direction and imitate as if you were walking on a treadmill but in whatever direction you choose, and it takes all of the cues from your motion. If you stop walking, it stops. If you speed up, it speeds up. If you slow down, it slows down. It’s not like being on a treadmill with a set speed, where you’ve got to match the pace. It is turning the knob up and down based on what you’re trying to do.

A user walking with the new version of Ekto VR shoes. Notice how they react to his walking speed and direction
Tony: How does it technically work? I’m a tech guy. I’m always curious about the juicy tech details. I see a lot of wires and cogs in the device in front of you, especially the one that for me is on the left, which is the one I tried three years ago. What’s inside this black box?

Brad: Each one of these has on the bottom motorized wheels. Let me bring it a little closer. The motorized wheels, and then there are passive rollers for additional support.

ekto vr wheels
The wheels on Ekto VR shoes

Both on the toe and the heel portion, these can turn in direction. If you’re walking forward, they’re going to be both facing like this. 

ekto vr wheels walking straight
The shoes for straight walking

Let’s say that you start sidestepping, they’ll actually turn and face like this while you’re standing on them.

ekto vr sidestepping
The shoes when sidestepping
TonyThey just turn automatically in the way that you showed me.

Brad: Yes. That gets to the tracking control side of things. When you tried it, it was this version [puts his hands on the boots on the left]… actually, this is a slightly newer version than the one that you tried, but the closest that we have on hand. It has a Vive tracker on it, and then you have a Vive tracker on your leg as well, and then on your back. The tracker that you wore on the belt, looks at where are you in the room with respect to the center, which way are you facing and how are you moving. That is generating a lot of the motion of the intent of, are you trying to speed up, slow down, change direction, stop, what have you. The one that was on your leg and the boot was looking at the orientation of your feet because people don’t all walk straight like this.

Brad mimicking two straight feet
Brad mimicking two straight feet

They do a little out, they do a little in, they do a little this way.

He started moving the hands in different directions to show how randomly the feet seem to move when we walk

It changes as you walk, and to keep you feeling like you’re walking on solid ground that data is really important to know. Like, okay, I am trying to walk this way, but my foot is aimed like this, so I need to track back in this direction. We still have trackers. We’ve reduced the number, so there aren’t any that go on the legs with this one, and rather than the… I think this is a 3.0 Tracker we’ve got over here… we actually have one of the Vive Ultimate trackers on our Voyager SE model, which is what this is over here [he aims at the new model on the right]. It feeds all that tracking data back and then decides how to turn the wheels and how to drive them to maintain the motion that you’re trying to get.

Tony: The wheels that you showed us, those, let’s say, cylindric blocks with lots of wheels are moved automatically by your system, so that’s your magic sauce. They’re not passive like the ones in a shopping cart.

Brad: Correct.

Tony: What the system does is try to infer your speed of walking from the various trackers, et cetera, and coordinate the movement, the direction, and the speed of these wheels to counteract your movement. Have I understood it correctly?

Brad: Yes, that’s exactly right, and I just want to add real quick that it has to do it in a way that really maintains three things. One is that it needs to be immersive. You actually feel like you’re in the space. Another is that it is intuitive, so your intent is driving the motion, not having to apply any additional controls or think about how you’re walking beyond the size of the device that’s on your foot. And then the other part is from the motion sickness perspective, so it should not keep you perfectly stationary, but profile that motion in such a way that you don’t get sick, and we’ve been very successful in that across, I think we’re probably in the ballpark of about 500 users at this point, and very good success on that front.

Tony: Yes, because, of course, since you walk in real life and you’re still walking in VR, the brain is a bit tricked about the fact that you’re truly moving. I know a bit about this topic because in one of my first startups, I was doing full-body VR and also trying to detect in-place movement and in-place walking, and one of the trickiest things for me was detecting the transition between the user standing still and moving and vice versa. How are you trying to solve this problem? Because it’s very complicated…
My early experiments with walking detection. One of the hardest things is detecting when the user is starting to walk and when he is stopping to walk

Brad: Yes, it is very complicated, and we’ve iterated on multiple things across the years, and it’s still something that we’re refining even into the next generation of our product, and a lot of it comes down to the bulk motion of the person. If you’re still taking a step, your feet are moving relative to everything else, that’s a pretty clear indicator. But if you’re moving as a whole, you’ve planted your feet, and now the system is moving you but you are a pseudo-rigid body, that’s one of the indicators there that you’ve stopped. People aren’t exactly rigid bodies, so they’re going to sway a little bit. They’re going to change their stance as they stop walking.

There’s definitely a lot of interesting edge cases there to be able to get that clear signal. There’s some biomechanics sensing that we’re planning to add into the next version, and it’s come and gone over the years as far as the practicality of incorporating that will hopefully give us much more accurate and faster indicators of that, and reduce our need to have to roll the person back to decelerate, and then slowly move them to the center, but allow us to stop them more rapidly, because we have that quicker indication that they’re stopping.

Tony: Yes, that will be cool. Before you were showing me also the changes between the two devices, so maybe we can go into a bit more detail. You showed us that the tracker is different because HTC Vive has also released this update. I see also that your shoes are very different. The new one is still big, but it’s much smaller than before and I also see less circuitry and stuff, so can you tell us what happened in these three years? A lot of things, I guess…

Brad: Absolutely. Definitely a lot of things. Certainly a lot. This one over here [aims at the old model] is, if I remember correctly, about 14 pounds, so it is equivalent to a ski boot and a ski, but you’ve got that flex that you don’t get in a ski boot.

The Ekto VR has a flexible plant

As you notice, it is very tall. Your shoe going in here, and your ankle is going to be somewhere hidden inside of here. A lot of this on the top deck is actually carbon fiber, but we were able to take about four pounds off going into this one [aims at the new model].

A decent amount of that is slimming down the structure here to only the parts that really need to interact and lowering the adjustment portions of that, going more into actually engineered plastics that let us optimize weight better and a decent amount of weight optimization design for manufacturing in the drive module portion. You notice that these shoes are actually lower. This deck height is also lower to the ground. You don’t feel as if you’re standing up as high on something. We originally had the battery up here. You probably remember you had to put your foot in there and then we would latch that back down on top. That made it toe-heavy because you’ve got this extra little bulk of weight here. We moved the battery back here onto the heel and then added some rubber bumpers. Even if you do hit your heels together as you’re walking, it’s a really soft impact. 

ekto vr shoes
The difference in the battery position in the old model vs the new model

Safety is the first thing that we were working on these versions and that’s always our number one priority. We’ve improved safety in going to this one. We’ve improved reliability, and the uptime on this one versus this one. A lot of it’s been user experience. Reducing the weight, reducing the height. We added in a lot of cushioning. 

ekto vr cushions
A cushion on the heel to make the shoe more comfortable for the user

There’s a nice foam pad back here [on the new version] on the heel and under the straps, while these [aims at the old version] didn’t have any of that padding. You had that cinched into a binding feel.

A lot of the motor control and other aspects of the control system tightened up a lot. Some of the instability that you felt the time that you got your demo, we were able to work that out of the system at multiple levels. Now the wheels track very smoothly. The control system is tuned to match your motion, but also reduce the acceleration and jerk that it gives you at different points. A ton of user experience improvements going from this version [aims at the old one], which was the DK1. We had the Evo in between, which is what we went to Dubai to Gitex with. Then we had Voyager, and then this [aims at the new shoes] is actually Voyager SE, the upgraded version of Voyager.

Tony: How do you put your foot inside there? Maybe you can show us a bit more…

[Brad showed here how to wear the shoes, which is complicated to show in the transcription. I’ll do my best putting here some pictures, but if you are interested in seeing this better, you can head to the timestamp 13:28 of the video]

Brad: [Showing the new model] You’ve got an adjustment up here. 

The thing he holds in his hand slides back and forth to accommodate different foot sizes

You take this off of the front. You’ve got an adjustment back here that you can actually slide this forward and back, and then this whole portion expands and contracts. 

Brad showing which parts slide to accommodate your foot

Now there’s a tool to do that on this one [aims at the old model]. This one actually had a ratcheting mechanism for that. [returning to the new model] You adjust this arch distance for your shoe size, you adjust the placement of this pad, you open these straps up, and your shoe goes… in fact, a lot of people step from the back, your shoe goes in here, you close the straps up over you like so. Then you put the toe cup in there and push it to where it’s most comfortable between the front of your shoe, and there you are. The front of your shoe would go up here with the toe in that portion, the heel back here, and then your leg would be coming up from here.

How people can wear the device by opening the straps, putting their foot in, and then closing the straps
Tony: Okay, so you still have to wear your shoes. You cannot put your bare foot inside.

Brad: We’ve had a number of people who have done socks with it. We don’t necessarily recommend, at least to this point, because of who our customers have been, and going to expos, serving more of a B2B (Business To Business) audience previously, or a B2G (Business To Government), that idea that you’d be sharing it with multiple people, and, hey, who really wants to be taking your shoes off and putting your foot into something else? You get that bowling alley shoe rental feeling there. We had avoided that for a while.

Now we’ve pivoted over to focus on the consumer side of things, where now it may actually be your pair of VR shoes that maybe you’ll share with your family or your friends, but a lot less of that quick turnaround that you might see in training, where you’d be switching between it. Still, people spend… I don’t want to speak for you, but I know that whenever I have to go sneakers or shoe shopping, it is never easy to find something that is comfortable and works. Taking that problem on and having to build somebody a shoe, would be pretty complicated. That being said, there are some interesting companies doing custom 3D-printed shoe designs. There might be something there in the future of a custom-printed shoe that works with the rest of our robotics.

Tony: I want to provoke you on one thing. I remember the period that I was sharing the video I took at AWE with your shoes. That was very cool. Someone on Reddit pointed me to some projects, which are hobbyist projects with people just taking some slippers at home, putting some wheels, and using them in VR with some small motors made with Arduino, et cetera, et cetera. They basically told me, “What’s the difference? You can take these with Arduino, more or less it’s the same”. How do you answer? What’s more in your product? It just seems much more complex than that…

Brad: I’m totally supportive of all of those hobbyist efforts out there. I think that’s really awesome that people are doing that. There’s plenty of room in the space for people to come up with creative solutions to this problem. It’s obviously an important problem. To your point of what the six years of development and whatever fundraising we’ve managed to obtain has managed to get us to, I would say it is two things. One of which is we were talking about, the flexibility of different users. It’s certainly easy to do… I won’t say easy… It is easier to do a one-off implementation that works for your particular shoes.

Example Reddit post with DIY motorized shoes

I could build a version that works for my giant US size 14 shoes and then woe to be anybody who’s got a women’s 6 and trying to put that version on [laughs]. It’s going to be a really difficult challenge. Being able to serve a very wide user base is one of the things that we have been working on for years and years. That’s a tough nut to crack because a one-size-fits-all becomes a one-size-fits-most, but it’s still more than one-size-fits-one. I would say that is one of the big areas.

The other big area is the transparency of the user experience. Now, it certainly varies from person to person, but typically people forget that they’re actually wearing these. You wore this. This is the 14-pound version. This is the 10-pound version. Just think, you’ve got 10 pounds on each foot, which is, essentially, ankle weights, the heaviest you’d want to go on ankle weights. There are motors and there’s all sorts of things going on under your feet, and people are forgetting that they have it on. They’re wondering if it’s even working because they’re concerned they’re going to go walk into that wall or… “Are they on?”, “Is it working?”… No, you’re not going to bump into your couch. You’ve moved three inches from the center of the room.

Getting to something that you can put wheels on and be able to walk a bit, that gets you let’s say 50% of the way to solving it. It’s a big chunk to be able to do that. For something to account for how your feet are angled and how you’re standing and how you’re changing your speed and direction and all of these things, all of that takes a lot of, shall we say, finesse that getting from that 50% to that 90% is a large effort. That is the other chunk of where our effort has gone into is how we make something that can fade into the background so that you don’t have to be in there thinking, “Okay, I need to keep my feet pointed this way. When I stop, I need to do it in this way. When I change direction…” How much of that you need to be thinking about versus I’ve got something that’s heavy on my feet so I’m going to take it a little easier. That’s one of our big value added right there.

A user having fun in an action game with Ekto VR shoes. They are not perfect, but they seem fun to use
Tony: Yes. It’s a bit like going from prototype to product. What we see made by fantastic hobbyists on Reddit is more like a prototype. What you’re trying to do is really a product to sell on the market. Talking about products and comparisons, there are other amazing people who are building treadmills or slippery mills or however you want to call them. What do you think are the pros and cons of the two different approaches? Because their solution seems a bit more, let’s say, market-ready in a way, but it has also some disadvantages because it’s not really like walking. It’s more like slipping. What’s your point of view on the differences, pros and cons of both solutions?

Brad: I’ve tried a number of different slip mills. I’ve tried the Virtuix Omni, I’ve tried a KAT Walk VR, and Cyberith Virtualizer ELITE. I’ve got a good comparison there to be able to talk to those. I think you really hit it, which is… What is your goal?

virtuix omni one interview
The Virtuix Omni One (Image by Virtuix)

It’s going to take us still a decent amount of effort. The next version is going to be a lot closer to this for you to be able to go very quickly. Now we can do visual speed scaling tricks, which we’ve been working on. I’ve actually had really good results of not causing motion sickness, which was surprising to me, but also spectacular.

But if you are trying to actually, let’s say, run at eight miles an hour, it’s going to be another couple of versions before we’re going to be able to get there. There’s a weight, the weight of the boot versus your ability to run crossover point that maybe we’ll see that tops out at six miles an hour. I don’t know. Maybe we’ll hit eight. Who knows? From the perspective of you’re not really wearing anything on your feet, if your intention is to be super active and move your legs very quickly, less so about strength but more so about speed, you want that frenetic motion, something like a slipmill is going to support that more readily.

To your point, as far as the feeling, they’ve made a lot of advancements in them, but still, a lot of it feels, at least to me, like your legs are a game controller for your movement through the space. You’re moving your legs, you’re moving your body, you’re making motions in the world, but I don’t really feel like I took a step, and I took another step. From an immersion agency presence perspective, I don’t know what else I’ll need to do on the slipmill side of things to really bring that in. Whereas with our design, we’ve got a decent advantage because you are getting that step-to-step motion with real traction under your feet.

I think in the end, we’re probably going to see a number of solutions still out there on the market. Even if we go 5 to 10 years in the future, there are going to be reasons why people will want something like a slip mill. Maybe that ends up being, again, more LBE-focused, how Virtuix had pivoted originally into LBE. I don’t know what it’s going to look like on the consumer side. I know they’re focusing a lot right now on that. I think that’s a great move. I would love to see these things in people’s homes.

I think the question there is between standalone headsets and PC VR, how much of a setup do people want to have or will tolerate having in their home, and how easy is the spontaneity to be able to access their VR experience. Where we’re aiming, I think we’ll have the advantage on that. You’ll have a couple of these in your closet or on your shelf or something. You got your standalone headset sitting next to it, or heck, even if you have a computer in the room and you’re streaming to it, you pull these things off, you put them on and you go. I suppose time will tell.

Launch video of the KAT Walk C 2
Tony: I hope so for you. You mentioned standalone headsets. I see the Vive Ultimate Tracker. Does Ekto VR work also with standalone headsets now? Because I tried it with an HTC Vive and a PC two years ago. How is the situation now?

Brad: They launched The Vive Ultimate Tracker with native support for the Vive XR Elite and the Vive Focus 3, and we actually got one of the XR Elites to do early development with it. I think it was two months ago, roughly at this point, they put out a beta for third-party PC VR… anything that uses Steam, it could be Quest 2, Quest 3, it could be a Pico Neo… your choice on that. Heck, I think probably the Apple Vision Pro with some of what people are doing, extending with Steam will work with that. It’s still in beta. It takes a bit of an extra setup process compared to what they’re expecting to release eventually. It’s very cool to be able to take a laptop, take a standalone headset, and show up with a pair of boots at somebody’s house and be like, “Hey, can I come in?” [laughs] compared to what our setup was before.

Tony: Yes, but when do you think you can use just the standalone headset and even remove the laptop? Do you think it’s possible in the short term?

Brad: Yes. Broadly, I think that HTC said that they have it in their roadmap, but that it is the future. We’ve talked about how we could make that work to both use the Vive trackers and the Vive Ultimate and the headset. It is definitely possible and certainly of interest. Eliminating that extra link, if we can, would certainly open up users’ experiences.

Tony: Yes, I think it would be great. Talking about the future… of course, we are a bit playing the speculation game because startups have always delays, and technologies have breakthroughs, so you never know…. but, ideally, how do you see the evolution of your product in the next five years?
ekto vr new model shoes walking vr
Zoom on the current version of the shoe, seen from the top

Brad: Well, speaking to the more certainty at this point in the nearer term and then stretching it out to the future one of the exciting things that we did, we actually this past weekend started doing user trials in the homes, which was a very exciting moment because that’s my passion. Our passion is getting these things to consumers, gaming, adventure, history, whatever makes them excited. Having them out there in large quantities. That was a really cool step. We have a new version of the boots in the works slated for the end of this year. As you say, startups shift here and there in timelines and what have you, so don’t hold me to that exact date.

That version is actually targeted at being about half the weight of this one and more than twice the speed. Very excited to get that one and that one will be very targeted at the consumer audience. To the point of starting those trials at home, understanding what are those pain points and identifying them early so that we can improve them significantly. That’s the, let’s say, nine months to one-year perspective: this is going to get a lot smaller, lighter, and better. Going from that, it would certainly be very exciting to see something like this, ideally ours, become part of a standard bundle.

I know controllers have gone in and out as hand tracking has gotten better for some applications and what have you, but still you buy a headset, it tends to come with controllers. I would expect in that five-year period that our conversation would change to “Well, of course, you get VR shoes”. You need your headset, and you need, let’s say, some really interesting haptic version of controllers, and you need your VR shoes because… how else do you experience VR? Exactly what that looks like is certainly a question mark, but where it is just part of the lexicon of VR experience.

View post on imgur.com
Tony: Your vision is very customer-oriented: people at home who use XR have your shoes to move. Are you also thinking about enterprise use cases? What’s your vision for the product?

Brad: At the time that we met, we were very deeply into enterprise use cases. I would say what we learned there is that if we follow our passion in the consumer use case side of things and we build a great product for consumers, that same great product is going to be valuable to the enterprise. Rather than trying to come in and design something specifically for enterprise and then build a whole other product specifically for consumer, we can follow our excitement, build something for the consumer, and then, there’s nothing to stop enterprise from going to Best Buy, Amazon, our online shop, whatever it happens to be, and purchasing units as well.

Maybe there are a few things that need to be tweaked there, but we’re seeing a lot of that pattern with the headsets for sure, that it wasn’t that enterprise was going specifically for a thing. They were going, “Okay, the Quest 2, I can go pick up 10 of them for this much money. I just swiped my credit card and had 10 boxes show up.” I would anticipate something similar in the future for us.

Tony: Okay, that’s cool! As someone who has a VR headset at home, I’m happy to hear that. But what can be realistically the price of something like that in the next years?

Brad: That really is the question, isn’t it? [laughs] When our Digital Trends article came out, when we were focused on enterprise, people had a little bit of sticker shock looking at it. It’s not all that surprising. I think what was in that article was $15,000, which I don’t know about you, but I don’t really want to go buy another car [laughs]. Not that cars are exactly that inexpensive, new at least at the moment. 

This next version that I’m talking about, the one coming after Voyager SE, we’re targeting very low volumes here. We’re talking in the tens of units, maybe. The target price for that is between a Virtuix Omni One, which is I think about $2,700, and a Peloton Tread Plus, which is about $6,000.

As I said, we are in the very early days, we target early adopters in the consumer space, low volumes, we’re aiming for something that is pricey, but about on par with some consumer equipment out there, not all that dissimilar from a high-end gaming rig. Now, projecting further into the future here, as volumes go up, we’re able to optimize cost better. My goal is to get it into the sub-thousand-dollar-US. Ideally $500. I don’t know if $500 is going to be practical. A lot of that’s going to come down to what supply chain and manufacturing looks like. We hope to at least break that $1,000 barrier to get it into the realm of where headset prices are, at least most headset prices are these days.

ekto vr future concept boot
A concept that Ekto VR has developed with Philipp Haban to imagine how the final consumer version of the boots may look like in a few years (Image by Ekto VR)
Tony: It makes sense. Regarding the price, for now, as you said, if you are making a few dozen units, it’s still a very experimental thing. I guess you are targeting maybe prosumers, tech super-enthusiasts, and even some enterprises, maybe to do some tests with you with the first units. Personally, I think you should still keep both use cases because now XR has still a lot of use cases in the enterprise sector. That will be pretty cool. Anyway, talking about money, what can you tell us about investments? Have you managed to get some funds? Because when you were speaking, you said you already got some, and you are looking for a new round. What’s the situation? What do you hope maybe to get? Maybe some investors will read this interview. What’s your point on the money?

Brad: It’s actually funny because I know at least in some circles, there’s this impression that we’re a very large company with massive amounts of money. You also being in the XR space, you can probably chuckle about, a lot of us are very scrappy, small teams doing a lot on shoestringing budgets. I’m certainly proud of how much we’ve managed to do on relatively little investment. We asked folks how much they think we’ve got. Actually, why don’t I ask you, Tony? How much money do you think Ekto has raised to get to this point? Do you have a ballpark guess?

Tony: I’m not very good with money, especially because the US and Europe are very different things. Let’s say, I don’t know, $4 million.

Brad: That’s not a bad guess. We typically get somewhere in the range of $8 to $20 million as our guess. We are sub-million. 

Tony: Sub-WHAT?

Brad: We are actually less than one and notably less than one. We’ve done a bit on very little. To your point on investment, the investors that we have been really great about understanding our vision, really being the true believers. They see the market readiness. They see the uptick in how many headsets are out there, the use cases, and all of that. They are relatively rare in my experience with investors, though. Just even, generally speaking, there aren’t a lot of hardware investors out there. There aren’t a lot of XR investors out there post-2016 hype.

Us operating at the intersection of these two things, that part of the Venn diagram is a pretty tiny little piece there. From a venture side, we haven’t been a really good fit. Probably eventually we will be. Hopefully, we’ll be selling a number of units. We’ll be making a decent amount of revenue. A growth investor will look at that and say, “Well, you’re making a bunch of money. Here’s some more money to make a lot more money.” Up until that point, certainly leaving the possibility open that some venture investor will see this and be like, “That is some really cool stuff. I need to get in on the early stages of this and help prop them up to the next level.”

Our plan for the next set of fundraising is actually to do an equity crowdfunding campaign and possibly a staggered set of campaigns. Maybe do one local and then do one with a broader reach towards the end of this year. Because to your point of comparing with slipmills, Virtuix I’ve seen has been very successful in fundraising on a number of fronts. One of the things that they seem to get a lot of traction in is equity crowdfunding. That makes sense.

There are people like you and me out there who are like, “I would give you $100 if that helps you make this really cool thing that I need and want.” We’re working on building up a lot of the community there. We’ve got a Discord out there. You can find it on our Ektopia page of our website. We’ve got our social platforms. People joining in on that conversation and looking out for that kind of equity crowdfunding would be really awesome and help us get to that next step.

Ekto always gets a lot of attention during events, so it has the potentiality to attract a community of fans
Tony: Well, then, keep us updated because I think what you’re doing is very cool. Maybe someone who has my same opinion in the community wants to support you. If someone reading this article has $8 million to $20 million to give to Brad can give them to him now [laugh]. Jokes apart, if someone is interested can reach out to you because I think what you are doing is great… I mean, I know the costs of development, and in the US they are also much higher than here… and doing hardware with less than $1 million is a little miracle because it’s very, very complicated to make hardware. I’m a software guy, but I know that hardware is 10 times more complicated. Compliments for what you’ve been able to do.

Brad: Appreciate it.

Tony: Actually, I think we are at the end of this interview, but I still want to ask you if there is something else you want to add. l asked you a lot of questions. I guess I probably have forgotten something important and it’s your time to say it.

Brad: I already mentioned as far as connecting with us, join us on social and Discord and whatever you have.

Tony: Brad, really, thank you for your time and for the amazing presentation you did of your product. Good luck with your future.

Brad: Thank you so much, Tony. I really appreciate you taking the time to chat today.

(Header image by Ekto VR)

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://skarredghost.com/2024/04/18/ekto-vr-shoes-walk-vr-virtual-reality/