Initiated by IO and High Tech Campus, the 10 most promising startups-to-watch from the Brainport Eindhoven region have been announced for the fourth consecutive year. On July 12th they received a Gerard & Anton Award. The winning companies are highlighted one by one in an interview. Today part 9: Pillow’s Willow and VR gaming. read the whole series here.

Name: Peter Kortenhoeven
Startup: Pillow’s Willow VR Studios BV
Year of establishment startup: 2016

What is the goal of your business?

“Pillow’s Willow VR Studios develops games for all types of VR glasses. The studio excels by the high visual quality of its games. A characteristic feature of the studio is that it develops non-violent casual and active eSports VR games.”

Is this your first startup?

“Yes.”

How did the idea come about for your startup?

“Peter already had a background in games and saw the VR market rise. While playing together with his daughter with a puppet show, he came up with the ‘dollhouse perspective’ on the basis of which the casual VR games are based.”

Has there ever been a change of focus, a pivot? Can you tell us something about the cause and the result?

“In addition to the casual fairytale VR games, such as the award-winning ‘Spark of Light’ and ‘Reefquest’, the collaboration with other LUMO Labs’ start-up VRee made it possible to create an eSports Full Body active VR games for the Location Based Centers. Exodus Burned, the first title can be played from August onwards in, among others, the Effenaar in Eindhoven.”

I’m sure there was a moment when you lost faith in your startup. Can you describe that moment?

“As in any startup, we have several such moments, the first to emerge is that Peter saw early on what added value the ‘dollar house perspective’ had, but that no one really believed in the VR market and in my concept any more. Peter was happy that LUMO Labs and an Angel Investor believed in him and made it possible for his dream to come true.”

Are there startups/entrepreneurs that you see as an example?

“Walt Disney and especially Pixar are the big examples. We know one of the co-founders of Pixar, Loren Carpenter, reasonably well and are honoured that he finds us games completely crazy.”

Where will you be with your company in 5 years’ time?

“In addition to developing our games, we are winning a Series A investment so that we can continue to grow steadily. Currently, we are already seen as one of the top VR game developers in the world and we want to be a renowned name and one of the market leaders in the industry in 5 years when the VR and AR market will be substantial.”

What does Eindhoven mean for your company?

“Eindhoven is for us the hub where technology and creativity come together. 2 elements that are necessary for us to be able to show the magic in VR. For Peter, Eindhoven is the cradle where he has been able to set up and grow his startup.”

What is the startup climate in Eindhoven like?

“To be honest, our market is more in America and Asia, especially China at the moment. In Eindhoven, we are actually in our cocoon to develop our games from a caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly and let it flutter out in America and China. The Eindhoven LUMO Labs has, of course, facilitated us super and has created a micro start-up climate whereby cross-pollination with among others VRee and Manus VR a full body active VR game such as Exodus Burned could have been created.”

At what point could the Eindhoven startup ecosystem improve?

“Raising capital can be improved. We are now seeing that, for the next round of funding, we are talking, in particular, with foreign parties. It would be so much more efficient if we could raise the €2 million here in the region. Furthermore, we do notice that we already have to bring talent outside the region, but of course, we would prefer to be able to bring people into the region or to the region.”