Looking back

Who doesn’t like a good “startup journey” story?

By Michael Gutensohn

Hello, and Happy New Year! How was your Holiday?

I chose to work through much of it, but I also took some time to reflect on the events of the past year. Most of our previous updates have focused on what we’re building, and in the next one I’ll dive into what we’re planning for 2024, but this week I’d like to focus on our “startup journey” to date. Taking a moment to appreciate progress, and the lessons I’ve personally learned along the way.


June - I quit my job

A painting of a swirling landscape. On the outside, a earth tones mix of oranges, browns, and a splash of red. In the inside, white and bright blues open up like a portal

I had spent years building for XR, but gritting my teeth through the exhausting development process. 8+ hours a day, 5 days a week repeatedly cycling between workstation & headset testing, every minor change. After all that time, I had had enough. Someone needed to fix this. So I put in my notice and left with a single thought in mind:

You shouldn’t need a computer to use your computer.

July - Laurent, Enter stage left

After leaving my job, I spent a month looking for a co-founder. I tried working with friends, joined YC’s co-founder matching service, and attended events, but no one stuck. July was coming to a close, but I was still determined to find the right fit. I took a weekend off to attend a friend’s wedding, and that friend introduced me to Laurent. I tell him what I was working on and right away we hit it off, riffing on ideas about what we’ve started calling the spatial web.

August - pitch, pitch, pitch

The Volumetrics logo, a colorful, triangularly shaped 3D object

Laurent and I met a few more times, but once he joined, we immediately got to work. Within a couple of weeks we had a one-pager, a pitch deck, and a demo I had slapped together in a weekend. We spoke to a handful of VCs, but zeroed in on Abstract, who had reached out to me prior to meeting Laurent. The first meetings were a little rocky, we were still finding our footing. But by the last call we had found it, and left feeling good.

September - We raised our first round

I. Loathe. Suspense. So much of this process feels like dating. I spent an embarrassing amount of time checking my phone for the proverbial “text back.”

A photo of the Volumetrics logo sitting on top of our first term sheet.

Just as I’m picking up lunch, my phone rings. It’s David from Abstract, asking if Laurent & I can jump on a quick call. I rushed home while sending Laurent a few dozen texts to get to his computer. Half an hour later we’re on Zoom and David & Alex are telling us they’d like to lead our pre-seed round.

Abstract connected us with Jack & Bala at Alt Capital, and by mid-month we had raised $1.1m. All this wrapped up 2 days before my 30th birthday, so technically I was a 30 under 30. Still waiting on the letter from Forbes.

October - Office space was found

Once the paperwork was taken care of, we got to hiring and looking for an office. I really hadn’t factored in how much time both of these can take. We spent weeks reading resumes, taking interviews, and driving around south bay calling numbers on “For Lease” signs.

The space is great, an affordable sublet with room to expand, and in a very cool building.

November - Hannah joins

Just as we moved into our new office, David from Abstract introduced us to Hannah. Hannah was traveling at the time, and we were still pretty busy with settling in. We took the time to get to know Hannah a little better, weighing what motivates her, what her thoughts on the space were, and most importantly, her own vision of the future and how it aligns with ours.

While the process took a bit more time, I left our final interview fully confident that Hannah was the right fit for us.

December - Our first early adopter

In the process of doing user research, Laurent interviewed Leo, an XR product designer. Leo kept in touch and began trying out mrjs, peppering us with questions and ideas. He worked with Laurent to build an immersive poetry experience, which isn’t something I would’ve thought of, and it turned out great!

A screenshot of the linked YouTube video

The back and forth with a real user helped us see what was working and what wasn’t. It completely reshaped our API and got us that much closer to creating the best UI library for the Spatial Web.

We’ve since contracted with Leo as a prototyper, enabling him to explore new use-cases and stress test our product.

Today - Eye on the prize

6 months ago I set out on this journey with one goal in mind, to create the best tools for building the Spatial Web. Today that goal remains the same, and now that we’ve found our rhythm and continue to chip away at the problem, that goal continues to grow larger on the horizon.

Michael, Co-founder & CEO