Deepbridge investee company vTime is working on several exciting products using their virtual reality and augmented reality technology. We spoke with vTime Managing Director, Clemens Wangerin, to find out more about the company.
What is vTime?
vTime is a company that completely changes the way people communicate and engage with each other using digital immersive technologies including augmented reality and virtual reality. Our products, like vTime XR, work across popular devices that people use to access these new technologies, including mobile, and very soon we will also be available on tablets, laptop/desktop PCs and Mac’s.
What was your background before vTime?
I, like many of my colleagues at vTime, have been in the video games industry since the early 90s. I worked at Sony PlayStation for 15 years and ran their software development studio in Liverpool. I grew that from 40 people to 120 people whilst developing numerous racing games, including Wipeout and Formula One, two franchises synonymous with PlayStation history. I left Sony about ten years ago because I wanted to get involved in the start-up scene and become an entrepreneur. In the five years prior to vTime I was involved with several startups. I got heavily involved in the local start-up eco-system and really immersed myself in that because that is what I had passion for and therefore I wanted to turn it into something a bit more tangible.
vTime was founded by successful software entrepreneur Martin Kenwright. Martin decided that although he had previously successfully exited two game development studios, he wanted a new challenge.
Martin’s foresight saw a lot of opportunity in the virtual reality and augmented reality markets and Martin was in the unique position where he could make it happen. He took the opportunity to take the best talent from the gaming and entertainment industry and put them together into this emerging sector. He initially invested his own capital to bring myself and the rest of the team together and give us the freedom to start innovating from day one.
What are vTime’s products?
‘vTime XR’ is a free application that consumers can download from a wide range of app stores, including Apple’s app store, Google Play etc. When users first download the app, they create an account and very quickly can enter one of the many beautiful virtual destinations that are included within the software. Users can connect with each other globally, and people use it primarily for communication and social engagement with each other.
Our newest product, ‘vTag’, is a consumer app that offers users the ability to create captivating 3D avatar messages using their voice, face and body movements. They can then either; send these messages directly to their friends through our app; post the message directly to one of the popular social media platforms; or, uniquely, pin the message on a map to leave in a specific physical location where it can be found by others.
We are also working with commercial partners to develop partner-specific content in the sports, leisure, tourism, and corporate sectors.
How important has ‘people capital’ been when building a business such as vTime?
For us it was crucial in the formative stages of the business. Although Martin’s involvement was key in terms of bringing capital to the mix, an idea is still only an idea until you execute it! For that you need people who are at the top of their game and can consistently perform at a professional level.
At the start, we were quite fortunate that we were in a position where we could pull together a very strong team in a short period of time. Our first year we grew from four to twenty-five highly qualified and experienced people. What we found was, once we had our core, we also needed a lot of new blood, therefore recruitment is something we spend a lot of time on as it is a key part of what makes a great team. Having the right mix and skillset is key for a successful business.
What milestones are you most proud of at vTime?
For us I think the milestones are about our productivity. Although our first product came into the market in December 2015, we have updated it hundreds of time since then. Therefore, it is constantly evolving. We are knowledge intensive and innovation driven, although we do like making something tangible at the end of it. The products we are putting out there in the market are important steppingstones to take us towards recurring revenues and get to the point in the future where we think the consumer level and adoption level of technologies reach a critical mass.
What’s next for vTime?
The next phase for vTime is to build on our position within the industry. What we have shown so far is only the beginning. Our plan, ambition, and opportunity to scale are unprecedented. We truly believe we have the right people and the right resources to deliver this.
What does the future of VR/AR and other immersive technologies look like?
The impact immersive technologies have on how we engage with computing is fundamental and creates a shift in what is possible today. Over the next few years, we will see these enabling technologies take on more acceptable, even desirable, form factors when it comes to the physical products like wearable AR glasses or lightweight HMDs that are used in conjunction with software like ours. Furthermore, the advent of 5G, Edge Computing and the AR Cloud (a 1:1 digital 3D copy of the world that enables persistent and super accurate placement of digital objects in the real world), will bring about a new generation of applications that will allow people to exist in multiple realities and seamlessly transition between them.
What advice would you give to an early entrepreneur?
Just to understand that everything takes three times longer than you think it will. Also, just do it! That is ultimately what I did 10 years ago when I decided to have a change in career. At the end of the day you must walk the walk to be able to talk the talk!