A Sydney virtual reality school just raised $2.25 million in a series A round

Live 3D footage streamed from Sydney Opera House through Telstra Gigabit LTE. (Source: Tony Yoo)

Australian virtual reality education startup Academy Xi has secured $2.25 million in a series A round, falling short of a $4 million target set earlier in the year.

The capital raising was led by Perle Ventures with Alium Capital in support, with co-founder and chief executive Ben Wong telling Business Insider that the round didn’t need to reach the original $4 million mark due to the postponement of its new “VR education platform” to next year.

The startup stated that Perle’s relationship with US-based venture firm SparkLabs would prove valuable for its growth.

“We’re planning to take the business global, making Academy Xi synonymous with startups, efficient growth and a core function for corporates,” said Perle managing director Michael An. “Academy Xi is solving an important need and helping build the future.”

Academy Xi runs classes for corporates, startups and individuals wanting to develop knowledge in virtual reality and augmented reality technologies. In less than 12 months of existence, big names such as PWC, Dentsu, Staples and Arup have trained their staff at the school.

The startup’s seed funding came from Lighthouse Sydney chief executive Annie Parker, while consultancy Vivant reportedly took a 10% stake in Academy Xi for $250,000 in July last year.

Wong said that the business was created with the skills shortage in Australia firmly in mind.

“The shortage of digital talent is a chronic problem in Australia, an issue that is being neglected. Our first goal is to close the digital skills gap,” he said.

The startup is currently developing what it calls a “School of the Future”, which will consist of courses for high demand skills in user experience design, service design and growth marketing, as well as VR and AR fields – a product the company says will fully train up 1300 people in the next 12 months, while also covering 8,500 people in shorter classes and workshops.

“By 2020, we expect to train at least 200,000 people in high demand fields of design and emerging technology. Our alumni will be some of the most sought-after people in Australia and the wider Asia-Pacific,” said co-founder and chief experience officer Charbel Zeaiter.

The new injection of funds will be used to expand the business in its Sydney and Melbourne hubs, according to Wong, while also “setting foundations” for pushing into Singapore and Brisbane.

Wong cited figures that 60% of Australian students are currently studying or training for jobs that won’t exist or will be unrecognisable in the next 10 to 15 years and that by 2025 up to 40% of positions will no longer exist or will have changed substantially.

“We’re preparing people for the future by providing them with an emerging skill set,” he said.

“Nowadays, one person with design or development skills can affect a billion people. The world has shifted and anyone has the power to be what they’re supposed to be.”.