How Idaho companies and citizens can win in the inevitable VR revolution.

V irtual reality is coming whether you are ready for it or not, and it will completely change the way we learn, work, play, and connect. It's not just for games. Every industry and company will be transformed by VR and AR tools and apps, just as they were when smartphones were released.

Mark Zuckerberg believes a billion people will use VR within 10 years and Facebook has invested billions of dollars already into it. Google is working on new hardware and software for mobile VR and invested over half a billion dollars into a stealth AR startup called Magic Leap (which hasn't even launched and is already valued at $4.5 billion dollars). Microsoft is pushing hard into AR with their Hololens. HTC announced a $10 billion venture fund alliance for VR developers. Oh, and Apple is continuing to hire more VR/AR experts for whatever secret thing they are working on.

With billions of dollars of investment from the world's top tech companies pouring in, it's obvious that VR and AR are here to stay. This isn't a fad. Are you ready? Is Idaho ready?

We have to do everything we can do position Idaho and it's companies and citizens as leaders in this new tech industry before the hockey stick growth takes place and competition heats up. Idaho wasn't ready for the Internet. Idaho wasn't ready for the smartphone revolution. We can't miss another tech revolution.

So what can Idaho do to be ready? The best cities for startups and tech companies need:

  1. Industry-specific Talent - Without a trained workforce, companies won't start or move to Idaho. Without available jobs, talented employees won't move here. It's a chicken and egg type of problem that so far has been unsolved in Idaho.
    • The Idaho Virtual Reality Council (IVRC) will work with local government, universities, venture funds, and companies to attract companies, train employees, and promote VR/AR in the Idaho area, especially while the industry is small and we can get a headstart.
  2. Funding/Investment - The best entrepreneurs need access to capital to invest into hiring, technology, and infrastructure to get started. Without funding, companies can't even get started.
    • The IVRC will work to promote Idaho companies and entrepreneurs so they are noticed by the largest tech venture funds in the USA. We will also work to connect local funds and angel investors with top talent and opportunities.
  3. Networking Opportunities - People do not get ideas from thin air. They learn from talking and debating with others that are knowledgeable about the subject matter. The faster that people and companies can learn, the less mistakes they will make and the quicker they can get to market or improve a current product or service.
    • The IVRC will host networking events and online forums to quickly bring together the best minds in VR/AR in Idaho and beyond.
  4. Education - An uneducated workforce is useless for a company or startup. The correct skillset can make or break a project. Idaho must have the best university programs and workshops to help train tomorrow's tech leaders.
    • The IVRC will work with Idaho universities and colleges to enhance VR/AR education and courses as well as host workshops and training events, presented by top VR/AR experts and companies.

Other base factors like infrastructure, quality of life, cost of living, and corporate incentives affect all industries and must be a point of focus for local and state government.

It's not too late for Idaho to get a big piece of the coming VR/AR pie, whether it's for new startups or for existing companies of any size that want to use VR/AR to improve what they are already doing.

“Don’t worry about being a small fish in a big pond — you want to always be in the best pond possible, because that’s how you will get exposed to the best people and the best opportunities in your field”, says Marc Andreessen, Silicon Valley venture capitalist.

Let's create as big of a pond as possible for Idaho citizens and families. Come join us!

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