Photo: Sierra Bein

Vessel VR takes San Francisco

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By Julia Knope

Ryerson’s startup is leaving the four walls of the Transmedia Zone and into San Francisco.

Vessels Virtual Reality (VR), created by Josh Maldonado, is a program designed to simulate travelling through the human circulatory system.

The program requires the Oculus Rift, a powerful VR headset to make the experience feel like a reality.

Maldonado and his team branched out their virtual education from the circulatory system and are using his model of Rome to virtually educate on history. The Rome model belongs to professor Bernard Frischer at the University of Indiana.

The startup has been granted three months and $100,000 in San Francisco by an investor who is aiding the expansion of Vessels VR under a new company name, DISCOVR. Maldonado will be the one going on the trip, where he will continue to develop the new project with the investor, Rothenberg Ventures.

“Rothenberg is always going to own some equity in the company, but their job is to provide us with mentorship, facilities, and connect us with other investors,” Malonado said.

As well as completing the Rome model during the three months, the team hopes to entice Rothenberg and other companies to invest in them further.

“The whole point is that we build a company and get a second round of funding. This is how startups work,” Malonado said. “You get one round of seed money and in order to keep your company afloat after you use that seed money, you’re looking for someone else to say “that looks good, let’s put more money into it.”

Although it is a big change, Malonado is eager to begin this new chapter.

“It’s the most expensive city in the world, but it’s where the most tech talent is,” Malondo said. “It’s ideally where you want to be if you are a tech company. I’ve never been there before, I might love it, I might hate it.”

Audio director of Vessels VR, Omar Charles, will continue to work from Ryerson, but might move to San Francisco if the company decides to settle there long-term.

“It’s a large leap moving from your city to a place like San Fran. But if that’s what it takes to get the company off the ground, I’m all for it,” Charles said.

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