Bisnow Virtual Reality Q&A: VR Is Like The Early Stages Of The Web
Startups like Lyft and Uber can take users all kinds of places—but Bisnow sat down with the founder of a startup that can take you virtually anywhere. Chad Eikhoff's Floorplan Revolution is a virtual reality (get it?) real estate startup, proving the virtual world isn't just for Keanu Reeves to fight robots. We talked to Chad about the world of super-high startup valuations and the market for virtual reality in real estate.
Bisnow: As a startup, how do you feel about the crazy valuations we see, can they last?
Chad Eikhoff: I think a lot of those valuations come in when venture capital gets involved and it plays a game of the values based on how much money has been put into the company as opposed to how much it's made and how much it can potentially generate. The thing with VR is that it’s such an unknown right now. It’s like when the web first came out and people were like "will it stick around, how do we use it, what’s the benefit of it?" I remember people saying “no one is ever going to stop reading the newspaper.” People say the same about virtual reality “no one is ever going to hold that thing to their head.” But once you start seeing the benefits of it those industries are going to change and it's all up for grabs. And 94% of Millennials do their shopping online for homes, but then they have to go to sales centers to get the product. That is a whole market where you’re solving a problem. You can actually enter a space without having to leave your house. We’re just meeting the market where it already is. There’s legitimate need.
Bisnow: How does the virtual reality real estate landscape look right now, what are some other firms out there?
Chad Eikhoff: It’s going to come on pretty quickly. There are agencies who have used custom VR walk-throughs for specific buildings or sets of units. There’s only one other example in the market right now that’s not just straight up custom—Matterport has a scanning tool where they can scan existing spaces to be imported to their app.
Bisnow: Tell me a little about your platform?
Chad Eikhoff: Absolutely. So Floorplan Revolution is a tool that takes a 2D floor plan and converts it to a digital model home. It delivers as a link that can be viewed on mobile devices, laptops, and can also go to virtual reality.
Bisnow: So it can take any floor plan to turn into a virtual reality model?
Chad Eikhoff: Yeah, right now we’re focused on JPEGs and PNGs, so if you have a website and floor plans are what you’re using to try and sell people on, then you can just upload those to the tool.
Bisnow: Interesting. Then what is the difference between your platform and Matterport?
Chad Eikhoff: In the end both have a virtual tour of a space, but there’s is built off of 3D scans captured by cameras—so you can walk around an existing space. Ours is built just based off of the floor plan and then we can just change out the furniture. SO you can see spaces furnished or unfurnished, and switch through different looks, change the lighting, our space is actually customizable.
Bisnow: So what’s the benefit there?
Chad Eikhoff: Well, for pre-sales or pre-leasing of buildings not put up yet, you can’t scan it, obviously—it doesn’t exist yet. You also see some usage in subprime spaces where it doesn’t scan well. Rather than hire a designer to stage the whole place, an owner can just give us the floor plan and we can add the new design virtually.
Bisnow: When you think virtual reality, people think helmet, sensory gloves, maybe a weird suit—how do I interact with Floorplan Revolution?
Chad Eikhoff: The virtual reality part of the platform is geared toward the headsets that are out now. The marketplace of people who have headsets that work with mobile phones is getting pretty big quickly, so that’s what we focused on. You just go straight through the Google Play Store. We’ve developed it as a virtual sale center, so the virtual reality looks like you’re in a sales center, then when you activate a floor plan you can go into the unit itself.