First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Jennifer Richey: Thank you for asking; we are actually doing pretty darn good considering the circumstances. We were able to get a lot of extra family time this summer, so I’m grateful for that! The Gravity Jack team as a whole is currently working from home. About 80% of the time, my kids are taking their classes via Zoom, unfortunately. While we’re thankful that everyone’s stayed in good health, we are still adjusting to meetings and classes all happening under the same roof at the same time.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Gravity Jack.
Jennifer Richey: I’m originally a California native and eventually found a home in the Pacific Northwest, specifically Liberty Lake. While I originally started school for law, I shifted focus in order to help kick-off a tech startup in 2004 as the CFO of Tometa Software, which was eventually acquired in 2007. From there, I took on the same role at a PC gaming company, PlayXpert. Eventually, this experience in the tech sector led me to become the founder of one of the first US augmented reality companies in 2009, Gravity Jack.
On top of being a technology futurist, entrepreneur, and expert in augmented reality and machine learning technologies, I am a devoted mother of four. Outside of Gravity Jack, I am an avid sportbike rider, triathlete, and skydiver.
How does Gravity Jack innovate?
Jennifer Richey: Gravity Jack is an American full-service digital agency with an unyielding pursuit to create a world where technology and the human experience intersect seamlessly through augmented reality. Since 2009, Gravity Jack’s realistic 3D artwork and lively AR/XR executions have been a source of innovation for some of the world’s top brands and government agencies.
While I would say that augmented reality is our flagship technology, we also have a highly skilled development team capable of creating robust virtual reality experiences, mobile applications, and websites. No matter the platform or technology, we are a team who prides ourselves on not only staying up to date with the best practices but are actively defining them.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Jennifer Richey: Like much of the world, Gravity Jack had to reevaluate our process and procedures for how to conduct “business as usual” from home. While we would much rather be in the office with the team, we are fortunate that the projects we are working on don’t require us all to be in the same building.
Since much of the world has taken their business online, we have seen a strong influx of companies reaching out to learn more about how a mobile app and/or augmented reality can increase their online presence. We have had a ton of meaningful conversations over the last five-plus months, with many of those conversations leading to some pretty interesting and exciting projects.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Jennifer Richey: We feel incredibly fortunate and thankful that the coronavirus hasn’t had an impact on Gravity Jack as it did other businesses. As mentioned before, businesses were moving to an increased digital presence, and augmented reality, virtual reality, mobile apps, and websites all have a significant role in increasing that presence. With foot traffic down due to coronavirus, businesses are getting extremely creative with their marketing efforts, and our technology is at the forefront of that.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Gravity Jack in the future?
Jennifer Richey: It’s easy to get buried beneath a mountain of tasks, but I find that taking breaks to work out and simply getting outside for some fresh air helps keep me focused. Working alongside a very communicative team and taking advantage of some of the great online tools that help us manage projects has also made working from home less stressful. Also, coffee, lots of coffee!
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Jennifer Richey: Augmented reality remains a rapidly expanding industry and, as such, carries a fiercely competitive landscape. However, Gravity Jack, as an agency, isn’t limited to app development. We have a strong patent portfolio with our HoloJack and Adroit detection processes, ensuring that our clients and their projects maintain a solid competitive edge. As pioneers of AR technology, we never settle for what the current technology allows for; we want to create the next big breakthrough.
Your final thoughts?
Jennifer Richey: While some may find these uncertain times scary (and I don’t blame them), I truly believe that out of this will come to some incredible breakthroughs. The coronavirus has completely reshaped the way we communicate and do business, and to be honest, not all of it has been a bad thing. It almost feels like a creative agency; Gravity Jack has been preparing for a moment just like this without even realizing it. We are here to help companies, products, and brands succeed now, and well after, we are on the other side of this.