We talked to Eric Zarakov of Bellus3D about 3D Face scanning, and he had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Eric Zarakov: We are doing well and have adjusted to the new patterns of working at home.
Tell us about you, your career, how you joined Bellus3D.
Eric Zarakov: I have been in high tech for quite some time. Almost my entire career has been in computer photography and imaging. I worked at Apple for 13 years and then at several highly visible start-ups in digital photography. I joined Bellus3D almost 3 1/2 years ago to work with a former colleague from Apple, who became a serial entrepreneur and had started this company focusing on 3D face scanning.
How does Bellus3D innovate?
Eric Zarakov: Our founder has an incredibly unique breadth of experience that spans from the publishing of peer review articles on 3D imaging to coding algorithms on consumer-level devices that are highly optimized for performance and usability. As we watch the interactive 3D imaging industry, we look for trends and selectively deploy new capabilities to test market interest in a market that we think has potential. We then look for which markets and applications respond to the breakthrough and work with lead users to refine the base offering to become a solution.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Eric Zarakov: We have developed the capability of both at home and enterprise based 3D face scanning. Out at home, consumer solution is deployed on consumer devices such as the Apple iPhone X, 11 or 12. With the unfolding of the COVID restrictions, we have been seeing an increased demand by our developer community to deploy at-home virtual try-on of eyeglasses, beauty face masks, covid masks, and personalized toys. With more people at home, the appetite for personalized 3D face-based products has increased. At the same time, we see R&D work by our enterprise-based customers has continued for in-store based 3D face scanning and 3D face scanning kiosks using our newly introduced multi-camera ARC 3D face scanning system. While we are all experience the difficulties of stay-at-home mandates, we see the faith in our retail-focused R&D departments to continue developments in preparation for when our society starts to open up again.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Eric Zarakov: We have had to become leaner, reduce costs, and pull back on expansion plans. Like any small business or start-up, you always need to be mindful of your capital and cash flow. We have always operated lean, so in that sense, we have continued the conservative operational outlook we have used since we were founded.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Bellus3D in the future?
Eric Zarakov: Working at home obviously blurs the line between work and home life. We have converted the 2nd bedroom into a full-time office. In the morning, I make my routine exactly as before the pandemic, and when I finish my morning coffee, I tell my wife that “I am off to work,” and I shut myself in the office and only come out for lunch and at the end of the day. That is the way I have found to keep a healthy separation and not burn out. For our company, we watch expenses very closely. Social media continues to be the largest and least expensive means to broadcast to our potential customers.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Eric Zarakov: Innovation and constantly increasing our value to current customers is key. Customers are very hard to acquire, and once established, it’s important to continue the relationship to improve our products and try to be ahead of their future needs.
Your final thoughts?
Eric Zarakov: We will make it through this pandemic. It has been extraordinarily difficult to see the impact that has taken place in our society and around the world. There is irony in the notion that the only thing constant in life is change. At times change is more accelerated than at other times. Success in entrepreneurship requires that you embrace the idea that change is always present. To thrive, you need to constantly be on the lookout for how to respond to a constantly changing environment and workplace.