Toward the end of 2019, Dalton Carroll and Sam Speaker were getting ready to launch their venture, Gamrpod, which builds soundproof, livestreaming gaming booths.
The pair initially bonded at Temple University a few years back, playing video games together, and pursuing quite different careers — Carroll went into audio engineering and sales, while Speaker became a public accountant. But they were intrigued by an idea that would help ease by the barrier to entry into the gaming and livestreaming industry. The cost can be incredibly high between equipment and a space to set up, so what if there was a spot you could rent instead?
They built individual Gamrpods equipped with “a high-end PC, peripherals including web cam and microphone, a green screen, the most popular games and broadcasting software,” they said. The first one was installed in Chinatown’s TAP Esports Center in the fall of 2019.
And then COVID-19 hit. It’s a story familiar to most founders in the region — the pandemic made building uncertain, and plans went on the backburner.
“COVID had Gamrpod at a standstill with the shutdowns, but we took the time to redesign our new model from the research and feedback from our V1 unit,” Carroll told Technical.ly.
The startup has now developed a second iteration of its machine, the V2, with features including a built-in blue screen to key out the background, vanity lighting, noise reduction, bigger desk space for a mouse and keyboard, built-in USB and audio hub and the inclusion of a standard 120V power outlet. The cofounders are working with a new manufacturer to custom build the V2 units to for the optimal “integrative micro-studio experience.” Each pod retails for around $9,000.
Mindful of the pandemic, the units also include upgraded ventilation systems. But the pods themselves lend well to pandemic-era gaming, Carroll said, and esports has only grown as an industry in the last year and a half. Take the explosive growth of fellow homegrown esports company Nerd Street Gamers as evidence: The national-facing biz most recently raised an $11.5 million round from Silicon Valley investors and is opening its Center City esports campus to the public this weekend.
“Post-COVID Gamrpods are required more now than ever since people want to have their own space that is safely away from other people,” Carroll said.
The relaunched V2 machines will be placed at TAP Esports Center but also “esport centers throughout the United States with a few units still looking for homes,” Carroll said. The pair are working on their first round of production for the V2 units and said those partnerships are not yet able to be disclosed. They also did not share how many Gamrpods are currently in use.
“However, under the NDA agreement, I can say we will be growing our team from just Sam and I,” Carroll said. “The implementation of these integrations in our V2 gamrpod’s are a major milestone for the esports and live streaming industry.”-30-