We talked to Yaroslav Mukha of WeAR Studio on how to design and develop immersive experiences to solve business and industry problems and this is what she had to say.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Yaroslav Mukha: It is challenging, to say at least. As my husband and I are co-founders of WeAR Studio, together, we’re doing our best to expand when others quit the XR game. Such drastic world changes motivated us to review processes inside the company and optimize them.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded WeAR Studio.
Yaroslav Mukha: I got to know about XR tech in late 2015. From that time, I fell in love with AR/VR tech and felt I want to build my career in this industry. I founded WeAR Studio in early 2016, the first team build was only six people, and that’s how we began our story. From that moment and now on, I’m an XR evangelist. I genuinely believe there is no such industry that won’t benefit from AR/VR tech.
How does WeAR Studio innovate?
Yaroslav Mukha: In our case, a lot of R&D starts with a client’s request. There are just no assets or ready solutions, so you have to develop from scratch.
For example, we had to create the first AR-compatible karaoke module for Christmas carols. The client had an idea, and so we said, “yeah, we can do it.” Sometimes, we come up with a solution that the client couldn’t even imagine, but we had to ask ourselves, “is it possible to deliver what we’re about to present?”
We’re hoping on branching R&D further, but a lot depends on software engine updates, such as ARKit and ARCore. Not all of them, however. For example, we have a couple of maritime projects that started from partners’ ideas but have branched out into independent startups. We experiment with Microsoft Hololens’ capabilities for the ship’s crew, coastal security, and port management.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Yaroslav Mukha: Well, firstly, we faced an impressive cash gap in March-April, then we lost some team members. Secondly, all of our business development activities were down, and we needed to find new ways to build relationships with new potential clients and partners.
I remember there was a strategic session, and we decided, “Ok, we are in absolute uncertainty right now, almost all our traditional instruments are not working, so let’s try something we haven’t tried before?!”.
We experimented with different types of content in our marketing activities. We hosted online lectures and webinars. We reopened a LinkedIn platform for ourselves. As a result, we developed a brand-new business development & marketing strategy, find out at least the two new categories of our target audience in this new normality, and rebuilt the website.
No one knows what to do in such situations, but it’s crucial to read the room, keep in perspective, let your team do their best, and help you find the way out.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Yaroslav Mukha: Of course. The month of May was the most stressful one. As we understood, we needed another project to sustain our team. Luckily, June and July were more fruity as we found new partners looking for XR solutions.
The main lesson would be, “you can never be prepared for such circumstances, but you must be ready to answer the changes.” And I’m glad we have a team of people who welcome changes and challenges.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Yaroslav Mukha: This is my golden combination, and I use it not only in stress but it also became a life philosophy – good sleep, no alcohol, yoga, balanced nutrition, vitamins, weekly meeting with a psychologist, and keeping a balance of things I have to do VS I want to do. The last one is crucial.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Yaroslav Mukha: As I said before, in-house optimizations are helping to keep the company running. For us, it’s not about “staying,” but rather about finding new solutions. AR and VR fill the gap between physical and digital, which matches people’s needs in social distancing times. Right now, we’re working on a couple of products for our new reality, but I don’t want to spoil them yet.
Your final thoughts?
Life is going on, so let’s enjoy it and be kind to each other, no matter what.