Gemba, Enterprise VR Training Platform Used by Coca-Cola and Pfizer, Raises $18 Million TechCrunch


Gemba, an enterprise-focused virtual reality (VR) training startup used by some of the world’s largest companies, has raised $18 million in Series A funding.

Gemba designs and delivers so-called virtual “masterclasses” covering topics such as supply chain management and lean manufacturing, offering courses that can span several days in collaboration with experts in each field. The key selling point of the Gemba program is that it can be designed to be as realistic as possible, delivered in real time and facilitating real-time interaction between all participants.

“The Gemba masterclass is fully interactive. It’s 3D, immersive, and uses the same software that 90 percent of video games are created in (Unity),” Gemba CEO Nathan Robinson told TechCrunch. “In Gemba, you can move around freely, grab objects, and participate in simulations. You can do all the things you can do in real life and many more things you can’t in real life.”

Every participant has a corresponding avatar and can join from almost anywhere they like, including the office or the living room at home.

Adds Robinson, “A typical master class is attended by 25 senior executives from companies across multiple disciplines, such as VPs from Pfizer, Nike, Adidas, Dell, Volvo, Roche, and more.” “We have one masterclass leader who is recognized as a subject matter expert and two guest speakers from companies like Amazon and AstraZeneca.”

Gemba in Action

Gemba’s software currently only works with the Meta’s Quest headset, which comes as part of the package, but the company said it’s working to expand support for all popular VR and AR devices throughout 2023.

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The metaverse hype fueled by companies like Facebook’s parent company Meta may be a bit premature, but it’s clear that VR, AR, and mixed reality are getting at least a little more attention lately outside the gaming world. part of this. Education in particular remains a central focus for many current VR applications, and investors are taking notice.

For example, last month Loft Dynamics raised $20 million to address a helicopter pilot shortage through VR training, and medical simulation platform FundamentalVR secured $20 million to help surgeons learn through VR. Then there’s VRAI, which recently raised $3.2 million to bring VR simulation training to risky industries like the offshore wind sector.

Initially founded in 2010 as an executive training company called The Leadership Network, London-based Gemba moved away from the legacy training business in April and rebranded to its current name. While the pandemic may have bolstered Gemba’s ambitions in the VR space, it actually began shifting its focus a few years ago as it sought new ways to capture knowledge from training courses and scale to thousands of users. In fact, the company delivered its first VR enterprise training in 2019, and a masterclass was launched the following year.

“This process from start to finish took over five years,” says Robinson. “In 2017, VR was still clunky and challenging and really only used for niche games, but all the ingredients for the metaverse were there. What we saw was a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create immersive learning that feels just as good as an in-person experience. Limitless creative possibilities, all the efficiencies of a digital platform, and a changing workforce.”

Gemba in Action

All of the research and development through the pivot to VR was basically self-funded with revenue from existing training programs, but now it’s looking to strengthen and build on a foundation that has won major customers, including Coca-Cola. , Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Nike started as Gemba customers in their traditional in-person training business before moving into the VR realm with Gemba.

A key selling point for customers is that VR eliminates travel time and costs and helps companies deliver on their carbon reduction commitments. However, Gemba’s courses aren’t exactly cheap, as each masterclass costs around $7,250 per person per program. roll out.

Participants will also be able to continue using their MetaQuest headsets at the end of the program, but with the enterprise subscription plan, the company will purchase the headsets separately and reuse them in future programs.

With $18 million in the bank, which represents its first external financing, Gemba said it plans to accelerate growth across the EMEA region and eventually expand into the North American market. In fact, Gemba’s Series A round was led by New York-based Parkway Venture Capital, which has previously invested in Lyft, Intel-owned Mobileye, Coursera, and China’s Didi.

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