It has been a long time since I've been as excited about anything as I am right now about the potential in virtual reality. Yes, as a new user of the technology (I grabbed an Oculus Rift and am in love with it) my excitement goes way beyond the potential as a consumer. What really excites me is the potential for entrepreneurs like you and me.
"I'm literally struggling to go to sleep at night knowing that there are so many untapped opportunities ripe for the taking."
I'm literally struggling to go to sleep at night knowing that there are so many untapped opportunities ripe for the taking.
These aren't "beer money ideas" either.
I am 100% positive that there are multiple BILLION dollar opportunities yet to be uncovered in the field of virtual reality.
In this article, I'm going to share some the most exciting potential business opportunities that I could think of for the virtual reality industry.
I've thought of most of these during the hours I should be sleeping...Some are much better and more likely to happen than others.
A Quick Word on the Future of Virtual Reality
A quick buzzkill before we get too far in...
The technology behind virtual reality has vastly exceeded its current market of consumers.
I own an Oculus Rift and am amazed at how great it is right now. It is well worth the $399 I paid for it (not to mention the $1700 I had to spend on a new laptop to run it) BUT that doesn't mean it's affordable for the masses yet.
Many still consider it a novelty and a toy for people with disposable income.
Mass adoption is a long way away and things will likely look way different than they do now when a critical mass of users start to join the party.
The Oculus Rift I'm using now will look antiquated in a few years I'm sure.
The graphics, apps and games that currently seem amazing to me will be replaced by things much cooler. That doesn't mean savvy, forward thinking entrepreneurs like you and me shouldn't get in now and keep our thumb on the pulse of the industry.
So, my recommendation to you is to be patient and be ok with the fact that adoption is still going to be very slow moving. If you expect huge results soon, this might not be the industry for you.
I believe anyone who starts using the technology in the next year (maybe two years) will some day be considered an "early adopter" in the grand scheme of virtual reality. There are SUPER early adopters who will roll their eyes at this since they've been in this for over a decade, but I still believe the industry is very much in its infancy, especially in terms of adoption and the size of the user base.
I am totally spit balling here on these ideas. Some of these ideas may happen, others may not. I have no experience in virtual reality except the fact I own an Oculus Rift and am always interested in getting in early on things that excite me. I have no track record of predicting the future accurately. This article is just me thinking out loud and I'd love for you to join in the conversation and leave a comment about the future potential for virtual reality for entrepreneurs.
The 12 Most Exciting VR Opportunities for Entrepreneurs
Here are the big ideas that have caught my eye so far.
Keep in mind, there are WAY more opportunities than I can share here, these are just the biggest and most exciting ones to me at the time of writing.
Virtual reality will still have a wide impact on existing niches, but some innovations will completely disrupt entire industries.
1. Virtual Conferences and Meet-Ups
Attending conferences is great, but traveling to them isn't feasible for everyone.
Even someone like me who attends multiple conferences a year would like to attend more.
Virtual reality will help bring live events to people who normally couldn't attend them.
This is great for people like me who attend these conferences, but it's also great for people who host these events.
Promoters will no longer be limited to physical space and can sell a potentially unlimited number of virtual tickets (although they'd be wise to limit the number sold for marketing purposes).
2. Virtual Digital Advertising Agencies
Wherever there are people online, there are opportunities for digital advertisers to make money.
There will be a number of companies (large agencies and small time entrepreneurs) who will establish themselves as experts and drive tremendous results for their clients. These people will become influencers in the space and will be regarded as experts in the niche.
Some of them will surely make courses and offer consulting services that will make them millions of dollars.
3. Virtual Intangible Products (Homes, Clothing, Etc).
It started slowly.
Gamers were spending real money in the games and apps they were using regularly.
They'd spend money to upgrade weapons in games like Call of Duty.
They'd drop a couple of bucks to get additional betting chips in card game apps. Apps that paid out nothing even if you won!
Think about that for a second please... people are spending real money just to pretend to gamble!
Over time, these users started buying stuff that didn't even make sense from a basic utility perspective. They started buying the digital equivalents of things that previously only had actual value in real life.
Things like seeds in Farmville and T-shirts in Roblox.
Things that allowed users a level of "self actualization" and filled the same basic desires of enhancing appearances and increasing our influence relative to our peers. These were things that were always reserved for physical products.
People started to craft identities for themselves and were paying to look a certain way to other users.
Whether you think this is silly or not, it is happening and it will only increase over time.
Now, if someone will pay to wear a digital t-shirt to impress others, what will happen when the world of virtual reality starts to link more closely to personal status? As mass adoption starts to happen, more users will be interacting with each other.
The desire to show off style and status will grow with the number of consumers.
What happens when you want to invite someone to your virtual hangout room (there are some types of games that already have this) and you realize it looks plain and boring? You can start to deck out your virtual reality in the same way you would in real life. Users will spend money to express themselves to others.
There will be designers and developers waiting to sell various intangible digital products at every corner.
Sound crazy? Well, it is, but it really isn't. It's already happening.
4. Virtual Concerts
Musicians and concert goers will find the potential for VR very exciting.
Imagine turning your garage band jam session into a live show with unlimited viewers? All without leaving the comfort of your.. garage...ok maybe garages aren't comfortable, but you get the point.
Bands that struggle to schedule their own gigs at bars and other venues will take it upon themselves to get their music out there on their own.
Musicians will monetize this and various companies and promoters will join in on the party and profit as well.
5. Virtual Sporting Events
Sporting events will be a tremendous opportunity for fans and event hosts.
Imagine buying a seat behind home plate for opening day for $100 or a sideline view of the Super Bowl for $200? This could all become a reality.
Once the technology gets there and people can make environments VR ready, this will be an absolute game changer (pun intended).
6. Virtual Property Sales and Leasing
My family and I lease multiple out of state AirBnB houses each year. Obviously, we can't get a perfect feel for each of them until we get there.
Usually, this isn't a problem, but we have had times where a virtual tour of the house would have made our leasing decision much easier.
This will make it easier for home buyers as well to feel comfortable about homes that are out of state which means easier sales for realtors.
Realtors will capitalize on this but so will 3rd party companies that do the leg work to make homes VR ready. They may charge flat rates or even a commission of the sale of the home (real baller status).
7. Virtual Retail Shopping
We're already shopping online, why not add the feel of a retail environment to the experience?
There is something different about walking through a store when making a purchase and it will be interesting to see if big name companies are curious in exploring this sort of opportunity.
Think about your last experience shopping at a store like Target.
Did you go and only buy the thing you were looking for?
Even further, did you EVEN buy the thing you were looking for?
Maybe, but the odds are good that you bought additional items as well. This sort of virtual store experience will allow retailers to increase the value of the average customer visit.
Big name retail and grocery stores might be wise to integrate virtual reality into their models.
Also, e-commerce stores can make digital locations that consumers can walk through without actually owning any real estate, paying employees or paying large utility bills. They can utilize various fulfillment options to ship products to customers who fill their "virtual carts" and pay with real money.
Eventually, VR users may be able to check out at a register and swipe their actual credit card at the register!
8. Virtual Classrooms for Online Courses (Private and College)
I love online courses but there is something special that happens in a live, classroom scenario.
Entrepreneurs who sell information products can make live trainings that allow them to interact in a whole new way with their students.
This will allow them to connect with students who learn best in a traditional classroom environment which means, you guessed it, more sales!
9. Virtual Casinos (Physical)
Now I'm not a gambler, but in the US in 2016 gamblers spent over 450 billion dollars.
That's a lot of bread!
Many gamblers love the games but not the often smokey, degenerate environment (I'm sorry if you take offense to that description, not all casinos have a degenerate environment).
Even if they do like the environment, it isn't always easy to get out of the house.
Big time opportunity right here for entrepreneurs to bring the casino to the consumer.
10. Virtual Reality Software Development (Service)
Someone has to make all this awesome technology right?
Developers are always in demand, virtual reality developers will be insanely in demand once VR takes off.
11. Virtual Overseas Labor (Integration with Sophisticated Robotic Technology)
This one is by far the most controversial.
Robots are already being used in a variety of different fields. Manufacturing being the largest and most common industry to utilize robots, but other uses are popping up like in the medical and law enforcement fields (although these typically require human involvement, unlike most manufacturing uses).
But what about common tasks like housekeeping, yard work, running errands etc?
Combining robots with overseas operators controlling them could be an absolute game changer.
Do you pay someone $10/hr to clean your house? Imagine the ability to pay someone in the Philipines $3/hour to clean your house AND use a robot that never leaves your house?
Cool, but a little scary. The government will most likely shut this down tremendously quickly since it will crush US jobs, but it is something to pay attention to nonetheless.
Don't worry, it is nowhere near a reality (any costs saved on the labor would be spent on the technology required to run it). By the time this sort of technology could be a feasible reality, robots may be able to complete these sorts of tasks without an operator at all.
Maybe I'm just wishful thinking here 🙂
This idea has way too many problems that would need to be resolved for it to be realistic anytime soon.
12. Virtual Dating
Online dating is huge. According to a recent report by Marketdata Enterprises Inc, dating services is a $2.5 billion business in the United States alone
Virtual dating makes perfect sense.
- Easy to leave if date is terrible (still rude, but easy)
- Saves money (corny, but yes)
This isn't my cup of tea, but the big name dating services would be wise to start investing in this technology ASAP.
PS: I have done a decent job over the years keeping this site PG-13 (trust me, this wasn't easy so I don't want to blow it now!) So, I won't get into some of the more controversial uses of VR like adult websites. Some of these will make tremendous amounts of money, but, that has never been my style so it won't be now.
What do you think? Leave a comment and let me know!