In 2020, 13 startups enrolled on our Mixed Reality Program with Nreal. The aim? To co-create the next big thing in digital interaction, entertainment and content, and bring mixed reality to the mass market. But who are the startups enrolled on the programme?
We chatted to the founders of MATSUKO about how to build the future of XR, and why Star Wars holograms may soon be a reality.
1. How did you get the idea for the product you’re working on in the Mixed Reality program?
Maria and Matus were once in San Francisco together and one evening they went to a talk lead by Zoom’s CEO Eric Yuan talking about…you’ve guessed it: Zoom. The point of his talk was that almost all great types of technology are those which connect us: the internet, smartphones, video calls, social networks…at this point they realized that by combining Matus’s knowledge of 3D with Maria’s knowledge of AI, they could bring remote communication to a whole new level. The holograms in Star Wars could become real.
2. What problem is this product trying to solve?
MATSUKO accounts for the missing element in video conferences: our presence. Users experience the sensation of genuinely being together in the same place. As such, we bring people closer to one another, improve relationships and in doing so, improve collaboration.
3. What’s the biggest challenge your team faced?
Our biggest challenge is that it’s difficult to explain to potential customers exactly what holographic communication is — it’s a type of technology that you have to experience for yourself. But once you experience it, suddenly there’s a click — you get it!
4. What was the moment you realised your product would be a success?
On hearing the very first reactions to our product — they were even better than expected! “You’re rewriting history…This is much more personal than 2D communication…now I can see you, holy ****…”
5. How has the hubraum program helped you develop your product?
It is unbelievable that Hubraum connected us with people like Terry and Lars, our mentors at hubraum. What’s crazy is that they used to discuss holographic communication long before they found out about our product. What I really value about them is that they don’t just talk about mixed reality, they live it.
6. How have you found designing a product specifically for the Nreal glasses?
Really nice! We have experience in designing products for practically all of the mixed reality devices available. Designing for Nreal was different, because their glasses are much smaller and they look like sunglasses. Our first app testers preferred wearing Nreal glasses to all the others. This feedback is very important for us.
7. Make up and answer your own question!
Q: Why did you name your company MATSUKO?
A: Haha, many people ask us this question. The answer is top secret! We’ll tell you the reason why if you become our friend and/or investor.
8. What skill of yours has been most important for your career?
Extreme ownership skills — this means that each person is responsible not just for the tasks which are delegated to them or which are to-dos for their department, but for all the tasks which affect whether or not the company’s mission as a whole is successful. This is essential for a startup like MATSUKO because we do not have a corporate structure. Each team member must be responsible for more than just their immediate tasks. They can’t wait for tasks that don’t fall under their remit to be done by someone else — they have to get them done themselves!
9. How do you fuel innovation in your company?
We love hearing feedback from people trying our product. We have a circle of experts and mentors who always test out our latest features and updates. They give us relevant feedback. Moreover, we are also starting an iterative process of collecting feedback from our first potential users/customers. Recently, we were surprised by how much they liked the app. In recent testimonials, we received comments like what a “good spatial feeling” holographic communication gave the user, it made a cool first impression and that it was much more personal than connecting via a 2D video.
10. What book/album/film has inspired you creatively recently?
Recently and always? The game Assassin’s Creed, for sure. For starters, it’s one of the highest selling video game franchises of all time, it’s very innovative and rightly beloved for that reason. The founder of MATSUKO, Matus, was a Lead for AI Behaviors on Assassin’s Creed 1 and then he led a technology group for online games at Ubisoft. The algorithms behind our technology are based on 3D technology and the online algorithms used in AAA games. (hubraum: For those who aren’t as well-versed in video games as Maria, AAA games are a classification used for video games produced and distributed by a mid-sized or major publisher, typically having higher development and marketing budgets.)
11. Which other entrepreneur/startup are you most inspired by?
Slido, Zoom, Valve because we think that entrepreneurs should ideally be hard-working and humble, and the tech founders behind these three startups definitely fulfil that criteria.
12. What’s the one tip you would give young entrepreneurs?
Be quick in developing your product and iterating the features with your customers. Take your time and choose your team members, mentors and investors wisely. If you do a good job, they’ll be with you for a while!
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