Bringing a revolutionary idea to life
July 18, 2013 in Strategic Skills.
This article is brought to you by the The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Entrepreneurship.
Key Learning Points: Technology offers widespread opportunities and there’s probably never been a better time ever to bring ideas to life. The powerful combination of imagination, talent, commitment and hard-work can have stunning results.
This month will see the launch of ground-breaking communication technology that will open up a whole new era of global possibilities for smart phone and tablet apps.
The functionality and quality of the product is jaw-droppingly impressive. And the market for this new technology is immense. But for me, this story is as much about the imagination and perseverance of the people behind the product’s creation.
What is so inspiring and telling is the fact that a Yorkshire entrepreneurial duo came up with a highly innovative idea, developed it over 18 months and now stand on the edge of revolutionising how billions of people receive, interpret and share information.
Remarkably, neither of the two individuals has ever worked in a large corporation and only one possesses real technological expertise. And the idea for the product came about as a result of another conversation (read: Start now and value the journey) and throughout the R&D uncertainty and risk were constant companions.
Highs and lows
Over the last 18 months I’ve been fortunate enough to share some of the highs and lows of their enterprising journey. Concepts have been developed and ditched; trips to the extended development team in Hyderabad have been numerous but not always straightforward; securing investment was critical but far from easy; and persuading potential clients to view prototypes reinforced their belief in the product but absorbed immense amounts of time.
But when I met with the two entrepreneurs (James and Chris) in a quiet local pub earlier this month they showed me the first product that’s due for release by the end of May. My head was left spinning at the quality of their work and the implications for the technology’s use. I also quizzed them about market sectors and clients they could approach.
Over the next 5 minutes both James and Chris reeled off brand-leaders in the sport, media and tourism industries with whom they were already talking or actually about to work. Doors it seemed were being opened for them. Their technology was in high demand on a global scale before the product was launched.
So I asked James whether it was time now to sit back and let the orders pour in.
“I wish it was,” he replied with a nervous smile. “The hard work is going to continue for a long time before I buy my first Sunseeker. We have some amazing clients lined up – in lots of different sectors, but rapid scaling up of our business to handle our anticipated growth is part of the challenge – and the fun!”
Back to the future technology
So what is their revolutionary idea and why is it going to make such a big impact?
Real people (or characters) are placed in augmented reality presentations that educate, inform and entertain viewers. Using your smart phone or tablet, static images appear and then are suddenly brought to life. Critically, your device automatically recognises the environment you are in – thus making the image highly authentic and believable.
The opportunities for this technology across industries are far-reaching. For example: Adverts will jump to life off the page or billboard; Kids anywhere in the world will watch their favourite footballers perform tricks in their own home; Museums and tourism attractions will interact far more with visitors (at a fraction of the cost of using actors); And then there’s the construction, military and transport industries and of course, education!
And for home use just imagine the possibilities for sharing augmented reality pictures and video. Instead of being in a 2D photograph standing next to a poster of your favourite music celeb or sports star, you’re now in a short movie with your idol who’s showing off their skills; and you’ve captured this footage in your own bedroom and then posted it on-line or sent it to your friends. How cool will that be?!
Back to earth
The company’s first apps include the official Guide to the City of York, an award winning museum, Rangers FC and their own brand ZooMob, which brings real wild animals into the home, school or elsewhere – and lets you take photographs of your friends and family with lions, tigers and bears amongst other exotic creatures.
I asked the two entrepreneurs how they had come to think up and invent such a radically new concept and Chris replied; “By starting out and asking ourselves what people might want from smartphones and then working out how to make it happen. We didn’t know much about phone apps when we began but, as Albert Einstein observed: ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge’”.