Representing Your Virtual Self: An Interview With Leo Nilsson From Scapin'by@lina-survila
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Representing Your Virtual Self: An Interview With Leo Nilsson From Scapin'

by Lina SurvilaMarch 28th, 2023
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Leo Nilsson, co-founder of a mobile chat app. Scapin is designed for our virtual identities. It brings a sense of presence to your chats by using your facial expressions, body language, and moods.
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Today, I am talking with Leo Nilsson, co-founder of a mobile chat app - Scapin'. Scapin' is designed for our virtual identities.

It brings a sense of presence to your chats by using your facial expressions, body language, and moods to give your virtual self a personality that's as unique and true as you - the virtually liberated version of you.

The only time we hang out as our virtual selves today is in game worlds. Then it’s all Discord. Scapin’ wants our virtual identities to communicate, not only when playing games.

I was very curious about who was behind that brilliant idea and what it takes to start building a product like that.

Eventually, we all will want to represent ourselves in what we might call a metaverse one day.

Please Share Your Background and Tell Us What You Did Before Scapin'?

The most important aspect of my and my co-founder's, Joachim's, backgrounds is our passion for gaming.

From the first Nintendo side-scroller to the massive 3d worlds of today, we have both spent time in virtual worlds and become fascinated by the moments that are not only about achieving a high score but also about spending time connecting with others!

Aside from that, we both have had great start-up journeys. I joined iZettle (acquired by Paypal) in the early days and spent the last four years as CPO. Joachim was the CTO and co-founder of Kry (Europe's biggest digital healthcare provider).

Can You Tell Us How the Idea of Scapin’ Was Born? Was It Sudden, or Did It Come With Time?

It's funny because the Stockholm start-up scene is not massive, but Joachim and I had never met. We both left our previous roles and were looking for our next thing.

Two years ago, we were introduced, and 30 minutes into our first conversation, we started talking about gaming and the Metaverse.

That turned into a 3-hour discussion about what The Metaverse could mean for online socializing.

We talked for a few months until we landed on Scapin's initial value proposition. Of course, the product shape-shifted as we built and learned from user interviews and early prototypes.

But the high-level idea of a Metaverse-enabled communication experience has remained the same.

What Are Your Thoughts About the Metaverse, and What Opportunities Do You See in It?

I generally think about the Metaverse as an initiative to improve the time we spend online. As a result, we will see more and more digital consumer and business experiences enter the Metaverse.

Simplifying quite a lot, I keep my eye on three developments that enable this shift.

Experiences moving from Digital to Virtual, which will happen across all platforms, including mobile.

Economics and ownership moving from centralized to decentralized, supporting a healthier creator economy and user ownership.

Creativity moving from advanced to simple, AI-assisted tools that anyone can use to create something magical.

There are great Metaverse projects out there, and many are based on a philosophy and long-term vision that we share!

With Scapin', we see an opportunity to accelerate the adoption of Metaverse experiences by reimagining an experience that is familiar to all of us, but hasn't quite been captured naturally in a virtual setting; chatting and hanging out.

What Are Your Thoughts About Building Connections in the Metaverse? Where Do You See It Going?

Hanging out with friends in person is entertainment. There is no reason why this should not be the case online.

The Metaverse not only enables communication as entertainment but opens the door to social experiences we have never experienced before!

The simplest of social interactions can become our most memorable moments - like an off-the-cuff joke that makes the whole room crack up. Today's digital communication, from crowded video calls to sets of emojis or stickers, does not capture this at all.

UGC Is an Inseparable Part of Scapin’. What Do You Think Is the Main Driver for Creators to Create Experiences on Scapin’?

We think about two forms of UGC. We want to open Scapin' to the existing ecosystem of talented creators, including artists and developers.

It's important to say that even though you can build and outfit your Scapin' avatars today, we want to build a communication experience for the Metaverse at large, not just our platform.

We're inspired by all kinds of avatars, digital fashion, and built worlds, and we see Scapin' as the communication app that brings them to life - and together. Interoperability is one of the aspects that excites us most about the Metaverse, and it will benefit the Scapin' experience long-term.

Better creator economics will give more high-quality and diverse content to benefit the entire ecosystem.

The other form comes from users of the app. We're already experimenting with what's essentially a 3D selfie production studio that enables users to create content never before seen. We are also rolling out the virtual 3D equivalent of sending video messages.

We want to ensure that all users can add their own flavor to the communication experience. This includes AI-powered outfits and environments or simply hosting a fun conversation game! It's a blend of the novel as well as the fundamentally familiar.

What are your thoughts about fashion in the Metaverse in general? Famous brands are making moves, and small creator fashion brands are taking the Metaverse by storm. Where do you see it going?

People are inherent creators. Since we’ve all been spending so much time online, virtual identities have naturally opened up new avenues of self-expression. So it's a given that we will invest in these online identities, including fashion.

Great content will strengthen our communication experience, and we want to work with anyone that contributes to this. However, what excites us about the Metaverse is the potential to surface creativity from all corners of the world.

We would love to see a completely new and diverse creator class emerge with the Metaverse, which has previously been limited by geography, lack of tools, or protective gatekeepers.

To see a mega brand like Nike acquire RTFKT is awesome, but we're more excited about the small creators that will give Nike a run for their money. (No pun intended!)

What Is the Future of Scapin’? And What Is the Future of Life in the Metaverse?

We see Scapin’ as the communication platform that brings the human spirit into the Metaverse. We have the toolbox that achieves this by bringing our virtual identities to life.

Even if we talk about several Metaverses (or Metaverse projects), Scapin' and other projects will move more towards interoperability and decentralized creativity. We have built a familiar core experience open to anyone as a foundation.

And introducing user ownership, porting pre-existing virtual identities and content, and enabling creator contribution (including artists, developers, and users) are all in the stars for Scapin'.

It's impossible to predict exactly what kinds of new experiences will emerge. One of the most fun examples I have heard of is a space in Soul (a Chinese metaverse app), where people come together as avatars and simulate couples fighting. Sounds like a great savior of relationships to me.

We see a world where we don't distinguish so much between "Metaverses" but where visitors will seamlessly travel between whatever experience they seek while retaining their identity (or several identities).