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Shasta announces Camera Fund for AR and computer vision companies

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Entrepreneurs building companies around augmented reality, virtual reality and computer vision have a new funding source to help kick-start their businesses. Shasta Ventures announced a new “Camera Fund” today that’s designed to provide an early infusion of cash for those companies.

Shasta expects to provide 20-30 companies with $100,000 each, prior to even their seed round of funding. Jacob Mullins, a principal at the firm, said Shasta is moving away from its traditional focus on series A and B rounds for the Camera Fund because companies in these spaces are largely too new for Shasta to invest in.

“The people are super smart, the way they’re using the technology is super smart, now is the time they should be getting the fuel to build, so that they can be first in the market when ARKit happens, or ARCore,” he said in an interview with VentureBeat.

The idea for the fund came about through Mullins’s work with AR Kitchen and VR Tuesday, two series of events that are designed to bring together people working in those spaces for conversation and learning. AR Kitchen in particular provides entrepreneurs with a forum for pitching their ideas to investors and gathering feedback.

“Categorically, the feedback around the table — this is for people who are building on early ARKit — was really cool, but we can’t invest in it because it’s too early,” Mullins said.

In addition to the cash infusion, Mullins said that companies working with the Camera Fund will be able to tap into Shasta’s network of experts. He said that the firm is working with people in the field like Tony Parisi, the global head of AR/VR at Unity Technologies, which makes an engine that’s often used to build augmented and virtual reality applications.

Shasta benefits from getting involved this early because it can use information from the startups involved to help inform its future investments in the space.

“Ideally, out of this set of early developers, we’re able to learn a really critical set of user interactions that kind of become what photo sharing or location-based ordering of things was for mobile,” Mullins said.

Companies interested in applying to the fund can learn more here.

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