Gradman, Bushnell Aim to Create New Gaming Experience

Entrepreneur Eric Gradman sports a five-inch, dark red Mohawk. But when you hear his story, your hair might stand on end.

Gradman is an interactive artist in Los Angeles and co-founder and CTO of Virsix, which he describes as an immersive entertainment company that aims to take a new approach to the out-of-home expeience. Gradman has partnered with Brent Bushnell (son of Pong creator, Atari founder and Silicon Valley gaming icon Nolan Bushnell) to create Virsix and Syyn Labs, f.k.a. Mindshare Labs, a Los Angeles-based tech-art collective that is perhaps best known for its Rube Goldberg machine as well as its Brewery Artwalks and other events.

Gradman says that at Virsix, he and the rest of the team is working on a new interactive gaming project that combines the qualities of social networking games with physical games and places. He says it will involve sensors and hardware, and he plans to demonstrate it later this month.

“Thankfully, Brent has the gaming gene, while I have the rapid development gene,” Gradman says.

Gradman says he has been in contact with several potential angel investors, some of whom are performing their due diligence.

“We’ve been advised to first try to monetize our game, and then try our luck raising angel funding,” he says.

I met Gradman after the TEDxBerkeley event on April 3, in which he spoke to the 700 in the audience and demonstrated his Cloud Mirror, which was previously shown at the Sundance Film Festival, among other venues.

At TEDxBerkeley, Gradman announced that he had just quit his day job as an engineer at robotics company Applied Minds to pursue his work with Virsix and Syyn Labs, which he had been doing for the past 18 months in his spare time.

”I didn’t realize I wanted to be an entrepreneur as much as I am,” he says. “It’s terrifying and satisfying at the same time.”

As for his hairdo, Gradman explains that it has nothing to do with punk or any music genre. Gradman is also a fire dancer and a circus performer. After an accident in which he burned off part of his hair, he decided to add some symmetry to his quaff. Thus, the Mohawk.

Full Disclosure: I was part of the social media team in the audience at TEDxBerkeley that tweeted all during the event. It was a request I gladly accepted when asked and a task I would have done anyway.