Hackernoon logoWant to Start an AR/VR Company? Here's how we did it. by@Moody

Want to Start an AR/VR Company? Here's how we did it.

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Mahmoud "Moody" Mattan Hacker Noon profile picture

Mahmoud "Moody" Mattan

Co-Founder & CEO of BrandXR

In 2013 times were simpler, back when “AR” meant “accounts receivable,” back before Magic Leap raised $2.6 billion, even back before Mark Zuckerberg spent $2 billion for Facebook to acquire VR headset Oculus. I was a fresh Babson MBA grad looking to make a dent in the world through startups and venture capital. I networked my way into my dream job working for a Silicon Valley Venture Capital firm and one of my first investments was in an Augmented Reality headset startup META. I was fascinated by how these immersive technologies could totally change the way people live their lives and conduct business. I could see the writing on the wall, the AR/VR industry was going to be MASSIVE. Comparable in magnitude to the PC, internet, mobile phone platforms, the XR market was predicted to be a multi-billion dollar market in the next decade and disrupt scores of industries. Taking the Angel Philosopher Naval Ravikant's advice to play long term games with long term people, I told myself if I ever had a chance to work in the AR/VR industry I should take it.

Fast forward several months and I had the opportunity to join a manufacturing company that was in desperate need of a turnaround. They were manufacturing bookbinding machines in Berkeley, California. Nobody was printing anymore, so nobody was binding anymore either. Needless to say, they were feeling the pressure in the bookbinding business and were in need of a "Second Act." Fresh off the META AR headset deal, I had the crazy idea to manufacture Virtual Reality headsets using the company’s existing resources.

We inked a deal with Google to be one of their Official Google Cardboard Partners and we starting selling hundreds of thousands of custom-branded VR headsets through a Shopify site that I built in a few days with the help of one artist (psst foreshadowing...).

This is where the REAL fun started–I had a chance to work with some of the world’s largest brands on innovative VR marketing campaigns from stuffing 100,000 VR headsets in the Financial Times weekend edition to introduce Brits to VR for the first time to teaming up with 360 camera company, 360Fly, to be their official VR headset partner.

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Moody launching the 360Fly / PowisVR partnership at Best Buy

I recognized brands wanted to use VR for marketing but they were having trouble in three main areas:

  1. Content Creation - "How do we create interactive 3D experiences?"
  2. Distribution - "How do we get our content in the hands of our target audience?"
  3. Measurement - "How do we know if this campaign is working?"

Having built multiple successful e-commerce businesses on Shopify by myself with zero coding knowledge, I knew there was a better way... that's when the idea for BrandXR was born.

Then I met Kunal Patel...

I often joke that Kunal is the "Video Game Mayor" of Orlando, he seems to know just about everyone in Central Florida and is known as the "AR/VR/Gaming Guy." That title was earned not given. Over six years ago Kunal started IndieNomicon as a monthly celebration of independent games and culture creating opportunities for exposure and meaningful connections between game developers, fans and media. As IndieNomicon grew from 25 people to 50 people to 75 to over 100 people who regularly attend monthly events, it became clear that a gaming community was forming. Kunal and team then had the crazy idea to test this young gaming community's skills by partnering with Space organizations like Space Florida, NASA and SpaceX engineers in a weekend game jam/hackathon/rapid prototyping event aptly named the Indie Galactic Space Jam. From there he went on to start the Orlando Game Space which began as a 2,000 sq ft space but eventually grew up to a 10,000 sq. ft. co-working facility in Downtown Orlando focused on gaming, AR/VR and emerging technologies. Increasing resources and local partners led to working in the Healthcare industry, where the Mega Health Jam was born–a weekend hackathon where AR/VR/Gaming technologies and solutions were brought to Physicians, Patients, Medical Organizations and Researchers.

Back to the story of meeting Kunal… He was looking for VR headsets for an upcoming project and found me at PowisVR building exactly what he needed. We immediately hit it off when we learned we were both from Detroit and had similar childhoods getting started in the family business at a young age. He told me about working endless hours a week with his development team–who were game developers building advanced immersive content for various clients. To say it was stressful, lengthy, expensive would be an understatement. The projects they worked on were awesome, but when you’re working 25 hours a day, 8 days a week, you start to picture a better way. We figured if it’s like this for the people who have the know-how and tools, then what chance does the rest of the world have if we all start to move toward immersive 3D content? 

Kunal and I started debating the problem and realized this is all déjà vu. We’ve had this same problem happen repeatedly in our lifetimes. Moving from the yellow pages to the internet in the 90s, from mail order to today’s e-commerce websites, eventually, a technology that’s difficult to use, time-consuming and expensive becomes simple, fast and affordable. 

We signed a deal for the VR headsets and Kunal invited me down to Orlando to check out the Orlando Game Space and the community he established. A few hours into the trip, I knew I had found my Co-Founder & CTO for BrandXR. 

Businesses are finding XR technology can have significant impacts in sales & marketing, education & training, product design & prototyping, manufacturing and more. However, there is a massive skill and technology gap in creating and distributing 3D XR content. It currently requires large, expensive teams of coders with specialized 3D Game Engine development skills, something most companies simply can’t afford or don't know how to manage. What currently takes a team of developers 9 months to create needs to happen in 9 days. Eventually taking only 9 hours, or 9 minutes to create an immersive experience.

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Augmented Reality experiences built using the BrandXR Studio

After over two years of working on solving the problems we’ve faced as developers and we've seen hundreds of other developers and customers face, we're proud to be launching the BrandXR Studio! A no-code platform that allows anyone to create Augmented Reality (AR), and Virtual Reality (VR), and Mixed Reality (MR) apps. No development, engineering, or IT team required.

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Preview of the BrandXR Studio

That’s how we’re going to give everyone XR developer superpowers! But as we all know, with great power comes great responsibility, so we need your help in building the simplest and most impactful platform to create the best immersive XR experiences.

We’re seeking Creative Agencies & Enterprises to beta test the BrandXR Studio, visit the link to apply.

Build Professional Augmented Reality Apps Using No Code. Apply for Early Access to the BrandXR Studio!

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