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Sunday, May 28, 2023

Tripp Works to Create a ‘Mindful Metaverse’

Tripp Inc., a Los Angeles company that uses virtual reality in conjunction with meditation sessions, has received $11.2 million in a funding round this month. The money will finance building technologies that facilitate wellbeing in the metaverse, according to a release from the company.

Tripp’s platform allows users to create their own experience of visuals and sounds during meditation sessions, with the company providing a variety of imaginary environments, including “Circuit Tree Hero,” which displays a person’s face superimposed over a branching circuit diagram, and a “magic mushroom” landscape. The goal is to facilitate calmness or an escape to a far-off land and other experiences according to the Tripp website.

Additionally, the platform allows customers to join live meditation sessions while wearing a VR headset through EvolVR. Tripp acquired EvolVR, an online virtual reality community offering meditation services, in February with a combination of cash and equity.

Participants in Tripp’s latest funding round included lead investor Bitkraft Ventures; Amazon Alexa Fund; San Diego chip maker Qualcomm Inc.; Niantic Inc., the San Francisco gaming company behind Pokemon Go and other augmented reality games; and HTC Corp., the Taiwan-based virtual headset and smartphone manufacturer.

“It was a pretty great set of people we could rally behind this mission,” said Moritz Baier-Lentz, a partner at Bitkraft and a member of Tripp’s board.
In addition to the funding round, Tripp recently announced its second acquisition of the year in Eden, a virtual reality game created by Bearded Eye.

“The launch of Eden on Tripp’s platform will be a major step towards building safe, community-driven experiences in the mindful metaverse,” the company’s
release said.

Tripp’s ‘Circuit Tree Hero’

Beyond gaming

Founded in 2017 by Nanea Reeves, who is chief executive, Tripp makes its platform available on a subscription basis on Apple and Android smartphones, through virtual reality products from HTC, Meta Quest and PlayStation VR, as well as through augmented reality smart glasses from JioGlass, made by Jio Platforms, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries, headquartered in Mumbai, India, and Nreal in Beijing.

Bitkraft also began operations in 2017 and invests primarily in gaming companies. It operates six venture funds with a total of more than $730 million in assets under management and has more than 80 companies in its portfolio as of this month.
However, the firm has found that technology made for video games has applications in other industry sectors, Baier-Lentz said.

“There is a rich history of a lot of technological development that was born in games but moved to other sectors, even outside of media, very quickly,” he added.
The firm invests in technology that is gaming-adjacent and that it thinks can have a meaningful impact.

Bitkraft considers Tripp a great platform for leveraging first-person, immersive virtual reality technology. Tripp also has augmented reality products that can be used in mental health therapies, an area that needs more attention and innovation, Baier-Lentz said.
“There are a billion people globally suffering from depression, anxiety or addiction,” he added. “Our traditional ways of addressing this is not being met for many.”

“We’re grateful that more and more investors are recognizing the need for innovative wellness tools that expand beyond traditional meditation apps,” said Reeves, the chief executive of Tripp, in a statement. Users agree with that assessment.

“I use Tripp about three times a week,” wrote Jason Gregg in a testimonial published on the Tripp website. “Most meditations are brief yet impactful. I always feel better after taking a Tripp.”
“This app is magical,” wrote user Marisa Bunker in her testimonial, also published on the site. “The guided meditations are beautiful, soothing and validating for an anxious mind. Thank you, Tripp team, for creating something so helpful.”


In an interview with TechCrunch, the technology news website, Reeves said she was sold on going through with the transaction with EvolVR after doing several meditations with the online community.

“I liked the fact that they had a guided meditation experience that made me feel the presence of the other people doing it with me,” Reeves told TechCrunch.
The Tripp website called EvolVR the largest VR live meditation community, adding that it has about 40,000 participants.

“With approximately 40 live group meditations per week, EvolVR makes meditative practices accessible to everyone – regardless of one’s background, beliefs or geographic location,” according to the Tripp website.

A Tripp imaginary landscaape.

In addition to the funding round, Tripp also recently announced its second acquisition of the year in Eden, a virtual reality game created by Bearded Eye.
The purchase of Eden’s world-building technology marks a major milestone in pioneering the mindful metaverse as a safe space for users to connect and support each other’s emotional and mental wellbeing, the Tripp release said.

“The acquisition will enable users to further customize their Tripp experience, explore artworks and soundscapes while connecting with users from across the globe,” the release added.

“Through our acquisition of Eden, we’re one step closer to truly building a mindful metaverse and establishing a safe space for transformative experiences in digital realities while also empowering creators to join us in our mission,” Reeves said in her statement.
With the funding from Bitkraft and the other investors, Tripp can now explore doing more acquisitions in the next two to three years, Baier-Lentz said.

A woman uses Tripp’s virtual reality gear.

‘Authentic mission’

Reeves has a history with some big names in gaming and interactive media, including stints at Electronic Arts Inc. in Redwood City, and Machinima, the online video game and pop culture network formerly owned by Warner Bros. Entertainment in Burbank, which shut down three years ago. Given that background, she understands well how partnerships and acquisitions can be designed, Baier-Lentz explained.

“I think in this case it adds a nice social and creative (aspect) to what Tripp is offering,” Baier-Lentz said of the Eden deal. “It is very complementary to the existing product suite, and it’s obviously something that we are all excited about.”

As for Reeves, he called her an “absolutely wonderful woman founder.” He said he wanted to emphasize woman in this case because most of the funding happening in the metaverse has gone to men.
“It was wonderful to see a female founder taking a shot at this very lofty goal and not just coming from a rich background in gaming and interactive media, but also someone who had a very authentic mission and vision,” Baier-Lentz said.

Meditation was a key part of Reeve’s life and that of her late husband, he added.
“Part of this exercise for her is to dedicate her life and her work to something she knows her husband always wanted to see come to fruition,” Baier-Lentz said.

Paola Mendez
Paola Mendez
Paola Mendez graduated from Los Angeles Valley College, then transferred to University of California, and now serves as a Receptionist and Office Assistant to the Los Angeles Business Journal. Paola wears many hats in different departments and is trilingual in English, Spanish and French.

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