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Ready, Headset, Go: Announcing Spatial&

By Katie Finnegan

February 14, 2019

Today is a big day. After a year of keeping it under wraps, I am excited to announce the launch of Spatial&, the first VR startup to focus solely on V-commerce. It's not only a big day for me and the Spatial& team, it's a big day for Store No. 8, the incubation arm of Walmart. Spatial& is the second company to be incubated by Store No. 8, following in the very stylish footsteps of Jetblack, a conversational commerce startup founded by Jenny Fleiss, co-founder of Rent the Runway.

Back in 2017, Store No. 8 hosted Innov8, a VR innovation showcase with the goal of discovering and elevating companies doing pioneering work in virtual reality. Not long after, Store No. 8 and Walmart acquired one of those companies (I think you can guess which one.) At the time, I was leading Store No. 8’s incubation efforts but stepped in to help operate the day-to-day and quickly transitioned to the role of CEO. We then worked to reimagine it from the ground up with a new mission, vision, business model and new brand.

The name Spatial& (pronounced Spatial-And) has a lot of meaning. "Spatial" speaks to the idea of creating a sense of presence — the feeling of really being there. And, the ampersand is about connections and partnership. The & is the connective tissue between our amazingly diverse team of award-winning filmmakers and technologists and retail experts. To create truly mind blowing V-commerce experiences, these three disciplines have to come together as one. This multidisciplinary approach really is our secret sauce.

As a Store No. 8 portfolio company, Spatial& will be working on developing capabilities that will transform the future of retail. There are two parts to what Spatial& does: We focus on (1) pushing the boundaries of what's possible in VR and retail today and (2) defining the V-commerce platform of tomorrow.

Our team of filmmakers, storyboard artists, merchants, developers, game designers, animators, and 3-D artists all work together to create immersive experiences like our How to Train Your Dragon experience for Dreamworks. It's an activation that extends the VR experience even beyond the headset to merge the physical with the virtual. It's fun. It's engaging. It sweeps you away into a completely different world. And it's making stops at 16 Walmarts across the country (go see it if you can — it's awesome.)

And then, there's the future-state focused R&D aspect of Spatial&. At the end of the day, we’re creating an entirely new commerce platform with new tools, new hardware, and new standards. We're building things that don't exist and asking questions that don't yet have answers. This part of our mission really excites me, because I’ve built my career around pushing big bets forward even when the answers are unclear.

Personally, I believe that VR is the future of commerce. I believe it so much that I – a native New Yorker — traded the West Village for Venice, California with my fur-child Gormley, bought a very California car (a vintage International Scout!) and joined Spatial& as CEO.

Someday V-commerce will be the new normal for merchandising — especially for brands and products with great stories to tell. Imagine you're interested in buying a tent. You put on your headset and the next thing you know, you're setting up different tents at the base of Half Dome in Yosemite with a backcountry guide. Or you need new basketball shoes, so you try them out during a pick up game at the 4th street courts in NYC. Or you're shopping for a luxury handbag and you're taken back in time to the original atelier to learn about the craftsmanship that makes the brand so special. And imagine that these immersive experiences feel so real that they actually become treasured memories.

We're not that far off from a future where putting on a headset is the ultimate shopping trip. I can't wait. Ready. Headset. Go. That future starts today!

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