We talked to Stan Stalnaker of AQUA, a Hub Culture powered assistant enabling fluid movement for people placed under quarantine restrictions and here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Stan Stalnaker: Doing as well as can be, thank you. I’m currently in Hawaii as we have developed a significant client-base out here – I feel very fortunate to be in such a beautiful place!
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded AQUA.
Stan Stalnaker: I spent my early career in Hong Kong as the Marketing Director of Time Inc – and then in 2007 founded Hub Culture, a global collaboration network with a wide portfolio of activities including Pavilions, Ven digital currency, HubID digital identity, the Open Audit Initiative, and Zeke.ai. When the pandemic hit last year, we developed AQUA (Active Quarantine User Management), which integrated with our digital identity system HubID, and enables fluid movement for people placed under quarantine restrictions. It’s now being used in Bermuda and at various locations throughout Hawaii.
How does AQUA innovate?
Stan Stalnaker: We are constantly looking for ways to innovate and improve our business – whether it’s building on our existing portfolio or identifying an upcoming gap in the market. For example, with AQUA, we already had the fundamental system in place with HubID and knew this could be used to help governments manage the COVID-19 crisis. So we then worked closely with clients to develop a product that was useful to them and helped solve their problem.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Stan Stalnaker: A large proportion of our business has come from live in-person events around the world, so it has had quite a large impact on us as a company. However, we have managed to adapt and expand our capabilities online with our virtual immersive experience ‘Emerald City‘ and obviously our latest project, AQUA.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Stan Stalnaker: During the pandemic first wave, our UK companies secured outside capital through the UK government’s BBL project with HSBC, which was crucial in smoothing over the gaps of transition in the spring and made it possible for AQUA to get off the ground. Since AQUA was also developed with the Bermuda government’s support as the first client, this public-private partnership allowed us to develop the technology with less risk. It ensured we could think about building the best possible solution on urgent timelines.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Stan Stalnaker: Within Hub Culture, we have developed a pretty great support ticketing system, which has really helped us streamline our customer relationship management. This one system is spread throughout all of our eco sites, so it keeps things in one place and easy for our team to manage!
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Stan Stalnaker: Within Hub Culture, we rely on a network of independent talent who produce our core experiences. With the pandemic and long pause on the live experience, this has reduced our ability to bring on teams to create our annual spaces. However, our shift into new digital frontiers has kept our core teams employed and busier than ever. We have always been globally focused and remote, so the shift to new workplaces has helped us become even more around-the-clock operation.