We talked to Raza Jafri, the CEO and Founder at 3D Cityscapes about state-of-the-art immersive technology and here is what he said about it.
First, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Jafri Raza: Family is doing great; kids are doing virtual learning. It has been tough to keep them in front of the screen for that long, but they are slowly easing into it. I feel like virtual learning is good, but there is nothing like an in class, especially for the social impact it has on children’s confidence and growth.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded 3D Cityscapes.
Jafri Raza: I was born and raised just outside Montreal, Quebec, where my inspiration for design and technology first found its bearings. I saw an immense opportunity in Urban Planning & Sustainable Development. I graduated with a degree in Urban Planning from Concordia University, and when I couldn’t find a job in my field, I took whatever opportunities I could to start gaining experience. It wasn’t until I found out we were going to become parents that I really began pursuing my dreams of building interactive city environments and digital twins. I knew I required some more tools under my belt from a management perspective and therefore enrolled myself into the Executive MBA program at Queen’s University. During my studies at the Smith School of Business at Queen’s, I began to realize the importance of leadership. Building any global corporation requires patience, knowledge, and sacrifice.
From a career perspective, I quickly accelerated in global business, architecture and management positions taking advice from mentors and learning from anyone and everyone throughout the process. I began to see that failure is a major component of success. The trend of fail until you succeed began to make a lot of sense and made me more excited to stay laser-focused on the macro goals and build daily habits to achieve the micro-goals to get me there. I began to surround myself with good people who had hard-working and philanthropic personalities.
I have always been in love with the business and the opportunities it can create for individuals, their families, communities and beyond. 3D CityScapes is a Technology company that focuses on the positive impact that sustainable, cloud-based streaming environments can have for the safety and knowledge of citizens, stakeholders, clients, and decision-makers alike. Emergency response planning, airport digital twins, University Campuses, Exhibition centers, property developments, gaming, and e-sports are the areas where our AI and 3D technology will take us, and I am honored to lead our Toronto based firm towards unchartered heights.
How does 3D Cityscapes innovate?
Jafri Raza: We use Machine Learning as well as streaming capabilities built in-house to create virtual environments. Seeing is believing and nowhere does that need to get more important than infrastructure and PropTech world.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Jafri Raza: At first, we saw a significant loss to our business particularly from our municipal projects side; however we made a quick and pivot and began supporting real estate developers and builders as their industry had immediate needs particularly with the closures of physical presentation centers, we immediately provided support by creating online virtual presentation applications to allow buyers/investors from anywhere to access and visualize projects. We saw significant growth in the last year and are continuously hiring as the Digitization of Cities and environments continue to grow.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Jafri Raza: We had to change some HR requirements to ensure our onboarding decisions are aligned with the new reality. Our on-site and off-site teams had to make some adjustments as well, but overall, our goal has remained the same, hire and inspire the best and the brightest to continue to build an incubator like environment where everyone is part of the big picture.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Jafri Raza: Yes, we had to invest in building a more broad and secure cloud streaming environment to keep up with online virtual exploration demands, hiring more developers and moving into a larger office with dedicated server rooms.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Jafri Raza: SRED is an amazing program, especially for Research heavy tech companies like ours that has been the greatest program we have tapped into.
Your final thoughts?
Jafri Raza: I would love to continue to build our brands to help reduce barriers for people who want to learn more, often explore and regularly engage with others. The technology is only as good as the need it serves, and I wish to work more with NGO’s and Charities to help solve critical infrastructure or humanitarian projects.
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