We talked to Zakaria Jaiathe of Xibit on how to reinvent how people buy, design, and assemble their home appliances and furniture and this is what he had to say.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Zakaria Jaiathe: Thanks for asking. We are doing well and healthy. We had to adjust a few things like any other family, but overall we cannot complain.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Xibit.
Zakaria Jaiathe: Zak, I have worked for SAP as a software engineer for almost six years. First, as a full-stack developer, then specializing in AR/VR. In a short time, I became a senior then had the chance to work directly for the CTO and Chairman of SAP, advising on AR/VR.
I had the best career, a super comfortable life. But, I wanted a less stable and comfortable life. So I quit starting Xibit.
How does Xibit innovate?
Zakaria Jaiathe: We use augmented reality to reinvent how people experience software. We have built many applications where people interact using their pure body language, no typing, scrolling, or clicking buttons. Our current focus is on reinventing how people buy furniture online. We built a product that places holograms of furniture in any space, no matter how much light or dark the environment is. We make the hologram stable and the experience as realistic as possible.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Zakaria Jaiathe: Before Corona, we focused on showing a variety of products. From cars to luxury bags. We have also been using mixed reality as the principal technology. For those who don’t know, mixed reality is describing the advanced augmented reality goggles. The pandemic hard-hit our business since many of our customers have used it in events or customer centers to showcase their innovation. Thus, we decided to focus on one product and use more augmented reality on mobile to move on from the event focused business. The pandemic made us adjust our solution. Today, we use the same expertise to help users buy furniture products online.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Zakaria Jaiathe: As a startup, you always have to face significant challenges. Covid was just another challenge among tons of others that we have been meeting every day. We came as a team together and decided that this crisis requires some flexibility. We have to be bold, transparent, and open to pursuing new options. The team was very understanding and supportive. One major decision that we made was to use augmented reality on mobile instead of the super-advanced mixed.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Xibit in the future?
Zakaria Jaiathe: The team culture is our key to less stressful work life. We make sure to have fun moments. We understand each other and support the ones feeling stressed and play ping pong. Organize drinking parties on Friday evenings, and celebrate every success at least once a month. We even do meditation as a team from time to time. We want to protect this culture and grow it more and more. Startup life is a journey, so we make sure we have good memories on this journey. I see Xibit as a fun company in the future, bringing together super-smart people who build great products and have tons of fun doing it.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Zakaria Jaiathe: Our main competitors are Ikea Place, Houzz, Home24, DecorMatters, and Roomle. All of them are trying to provide augmented reality for furniture experiences. Some are more or less successful than others, but all in all, these platforms haven’t been built natively for augmented reality or lack the focus.
We can’t claim that we are immensely smarter than these fantastic teams. Still, we have learned from their failures, focusing on doing one thing extraordinary and using the latest technology that is more stable and can provide a better experience.
Your final thoughts?
Zakaria Jaiathe: It took us many trials and failures to reach what we have reached today. Focusing on augmented reality for furniture was not a random choice but the fruits of a lot of work, education, customer and investors’ feedback.
We are glad that Xibit is where it is today, a renowned augmented reality company.