INNOVATORS VS COVID 19
Social VR Startup Hoppin’ World Gears Up for Success during the Pandemic
We talked to Joaquim Miro of Hoppin’ World about its virtual place to meet people during COVID-19.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Joaquim Miro: We are fortunately in good health and spirits! We hope this will remain the case and wish it to be the case for everyone else as well.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Hoppin’ World.
Joaquim Miro: I am the founding partner and CGMO. I have built my career on matching emerging customers’ needs with innovative technologies, moving quickly, and driving global teams through remote workflows. After graduating from McGill in marketing and business administration, I went on to develop marketing expertise at L’Oreal Canada. After a few years in the corporate, I took a leap of faith to travel around the world, which became my launchpad to start multiple successful businesses, including scaling MLG Blockchain as a remote-first business from 4 to 120 employees in less than a year. In 2018, I became the youngest person to be inducted to the Canadian Marketing Association’s MarTech Council. I actively serve in the startup community as a mentor and advisor for the Holt Fintech Accelerator, Form Fintech Cadence, and Founder Institute.
How does Hoppin’ World innovate?
Joaquim Miro: We are the first in the world to build a social VR platform that focuses on real-world destinations, utilizing 360 videos and photos as the settings in which avatars can meet, interact, and navigate. We are pushing the boundaries of what is possible by connecting people in full 360 immersion. This gives companies and our users multiple immediate and practical opportunities related to guiding people through real-world locations completely remotely, including using this as a remote sales tool, a training tool, a museum exhibition tool, a destinations promotions tool, a communications and travel tool for older people as well as an educational tool for students.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Joaquim Miro: The pandemic has allowed us to discuss with many companies and key players across certain industries that would likely not have been interested in considering a technology like this prior to the pandemic. In a remote first world, this tool can become a very important part of many organizations’ toolsets. However, many of their budgets have been cut; therefore, it has also made it difficult to acquire paying clients. We see this as a great opportunity to further train our potential clients and interested users on how to use the technology so that when budgets are unfrozen, Hoppin’ becomes a viable solution that comes to mind.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Joaquim Miro: We’ve had to make a lot of difficult choices, including budget cuts, platform pivots, and changing our industry focus. The main lesson we’ve learned from this is that there is always a way to make things work out with grit and sustained dedication. We’ve also learned that many people are looking for things to do that are willing to help on a volunteer basis – building, growing, and helping a community must be at the core of any 21st-century business.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Joaquim Miro: We are a very supportive team that keeps everything transparent and out in the open. Therefore we can work through any ongoing stress or anxiety that comes with the uncertainty of the startup and travel landscape. Personally, I believe daily exercise, Qi Gong, and meditation are key to sustaining long-term productivity. Incorporating proper time management and productivity habits also helps to compartmentalize work and attain a healthy work/life balance. I strongly recommend reading Brendon Burchard’s High-Performance Habits book for the fastest and most practical path to ongoing self-growth and happiness.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Joaquim Miro: We don’t have any direct competitors as of yet – however, we have many indirect competitors that could become competitors in the medium term. We plan to build out a community of 360 content producers and a network of users in our free app so that the network effects become very difficult to recreate. We are also looking into patents for certain parts of our technology, as well as building up a strong standing in specific industries first. These primarily include tourism and user-centric virtual travel tour packages.
Your final thoughts?
Joaquim Miro: This is the best year of our lives to take time and reflect on what is truly important to us. We have ample amounts of extra time stuck at home that can be put to good use. This goes for businesses to level up their operations and bottomline, as well as individuals to find out what is meaningful to them and make a 5, 10, and 25-year dream board. Try to stay healthy both physically and mentally throughout these tough times, and you will end up in a better position than ever before.
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