Ekto VR CEO Brad Factor Talks Origins, Pivots, and Future Growth
Brad Factor, the founder and CEO of Ekto VR, is receiving recognition for his virtual reality hardware startup from none other than the founder of Oculus, Palmer Luckey. Ekto VR, based in East Liberty, develops products for immersive virtual reality experiences.
Factor, a former flight controls systems engineer, began working on Ekto VR in 2013. Inspired by the launch of the Oculus dev kit and the resurgence of VR, Factor saw the potential for haptics (touch and interaction) and locomotion (movement) in VR. After working on a haptic exoskeleton solution but lacking the necessary resources, Factor shifted his focus to locomotion solutions.
He was accepted into the MRSD program at Carnegie Mellon University, where he proposed his own capstone project. With the support of a team and advisor, Factor proved the technical feasibility of his idea. In addition, he worked on the business feasibility through Project Olympus and NSF iCorps.
Factor’s decision to start Ekto VR was solidified after an interview at Anduril, Palmer Luckey’s defense tech startup. Luckey showed enthusiasm for Factor’s work, which convinced him to pursue his own venture. Ekto VR was officially incorporated on May 31, 2018.
The personal significance of VR for Factor dates back to his childhood. He was a passionate fan of ride film experiences and aims to create immersive experiences where users are active participants in fictional worlds.
The turning point for Ekto VR came when Factor used their boots in the game Half-Life: Alyx. This experience made him realize the full potential of their product and solidify their success.
Ekto VR’s elevator pitch focuses on their Ekto Voyager boots, which enhance immersion in virtual worlds while ensuring safety, comfort, intuitive movement, and portability. The market for metaverse products is expected to reach $5 trillion by 2030, and Ekto VR aims to be at the forefront of this growth.
The company has built a strong team with expertise in robotics, business operations, and automotive design. They have experienced significant sales growth and are seeking $4 million in funding to propel their growth.
Factor’s strategy in building a team involves maintaining a tight core team and hiring paid interns and part-time employees when needed. Additionally, they have leveraged their network for team-building and received generous support and guidance from their advisors.
Starting his own business has been a roller coaster ride for Factor, with moments of triumph and despair. The emotional aspect of entrepreneurship has surprised him the most.
With the recognition and support from Palmer Luckey, Ekto VR is poised to make a significant impact in the virtual reality industry.