For as long as he can remember, 22-year-old Charlie Shi has been passionate about video games and entrepreneurship. But he never thought he would actually be able to marry his two interests until he attended the Bachelor of Commerce program at the UBC Sauder School of Business.
“I’ve always been an ardent follower of the gaming and technology industries, so I knew there was a definite demand for virtual reality in the Lower Mainland,” explained Shi, who just opened Vancouver’s first virtual reality gaming lounge, Univrs, with fellow UBC Sauder BCom alumnus Alexander Chua. “Consumers wanted the technology and companies were looking to deliver virtual content, but the two were somehow disconnected.”
According to DigiBC—the digital media and wireless association of B.C.—there are an estimated 168 virtual reality-related companies and 5,500 full-time employees in the province. But, despite these impressive numbers, Shi and Chua realized something was still missing: a place to connect people with product.
“There are a handful of virtual reality lounges in North America, but we decided to draw some inspiration from Asia, where the trend has really exploded,” explained Shi. “Asian lounges have a sophisticated atmosphere that guides users through the VR experience. Alex and I saw some definite parallels between that market and Vancouver, where we could also cater to a young, tech-focused market.”