Why I’m working on V-KAIWA (Virtual Reality for English)
Since the beginning of university, I’ve been fascinated by business and entrepreneurship. How people can have an identify a problem, develop a solution and then grow that into a business of value. Basically create something out of nothing with hard work and perseverance.
So over the past few years, I’ve been trying to be involved and try different things for myself. These were the three projects I tried to work on for 2014–2015:
- Unicorn Bookshelf — One stop online startup book summaries
- KeyDrop — Minimalist key holder which allows you have keys in one tool
- SeeMe — Social enterprise decal market place
These were fun initially but all of these ‘failed’/I gave up on them. A few reasons being that I had no real excitement for them, I didn’t really care about the people it reached but most importantly, I was deluded by the glorified nature of entrepreneurship. At this point in time I was reading numerous articles about startups and entrepreneurship with example titles of “How Zuckerburg built a $85 Billion dollar business” or “How 19 year old Johnny built an X Million dollar business in 3 years” or “Top ten tips for becoming a smart entrepreneur” through Business Insider. They made me feel inept and somewhat insecure that I hadn’t created something as great as them at that age. (Please try avoid these click-bait articles and read content from people such as Paul Graham or Sam Altman instead)
It was only once I started to work for a few startups that I understood the realities of what startups are and what they stand for. It’s a multitude of things such as hard work, patience and perseverance which is the stuff that the media would never highlight because who wants to bore the audience with the facts that a founder and his team worked 16 hours x 6 days/week x 365 days x 5, faced harsh legal battles and tackled hard engineering problems and bugs. It’s easier to write content on how company X sold company for X million in X years.
This realisation provided a somewhat paradigm shift of what entrepreneurship and startups meant to me — something of true value to a consumer’s life.
Since then I’ve worked on some fun projects that interest me and had some sort of value for the end consumer. So during 2016 I started to filter out the click-bait useless content and work on things I aligned to my own interests and the end consumer.
- Grew a PokemonGo Meme page to 50,000 Likes in four days
- The Yellow Ghost — Freelance Snapchat media work
- Building Facebook Messenger bots
Sure a meme page isn’t of much value, but in my eyes it was an entertainment page that made people laugh and relate to the game. I’m still currently doing Snapchat and Messenger bots as part-time and for fun because I enjoy creating content that makes people authentically connect with a brand. So I guess that brings me to the present day and I wanted to share what V-KAIWA stands for and what it means to me on a personal development scale.
V-KAIWA is Virtual Reality (VR) English learning platform for Asian people with a particular focus on conversation. The idea was formed during Innovation Dojo — a UNSW Innovation initiative to create a cross-cultural business between Japan and Australia. Being a first generation Australian-born Japanese student I wanted to get involved and figure out if I could mix my interest in entrepreneurship with my own cultural ties. It was a great program and we learnt a lot about the realities of startups and the lessons we could apply to our own project. That was in early December 2016 and fast forward a few months, with my co-founders Daphne and Seiya, we are progressing with our prototype and getting user feedback.
The reason I’m personally vested in this project is because it’s a problem that Japanese people have faced for over half a century and it still has not been solved through technology and it’s something I have seen as a tutor but also through my family and friends. It’s also the next step challenge for me to see what it’s like to work with a team and solve a real problem. I’m not saying that my previous projects were not solving a problem, but they were more motivated for my own self interests and somewhat lack of understanding what value exchange meant.
Sure I’m aware of the stat that 95% of startups ‘fail’, but it’s not really about that. It’s about the process of figuring out a hard societal problem and doing our best as a team to provide a solution. So we’ve decided to document this journey of creating something for our own self-assessment but also to share with a wider community what the process of working on a project is like. This was inspired by Gary Vaynerchuk’s ethos of Document, Don’t Create.
It involves being patient with the whole process of doing something and documenting it so when you do reach some degree of ‘success’ or ‘greatness’, people won’t be shoving down misconceived notions of the being lucky or having it easy. But it’s also a way for us to be accountable for our own actions to our friends, family and users and I think that extra bit of pressure and motivation is a good thing.
For the first time in a while, I feel like I’m working on something that aligns to my own personal values and interests and I get to work on it with cool people so I’m excited for the trials and tribulations but also the big and small wins and joys of working on something of purpose.
So if you’re interested in seeing this content, (plug time) — please watch our latest intro video, let us know what you think and join our team’s journey of what it’s like to get started on a project/business. Hopefully it will inspire whoever is reading this article to perhaps start with their own projects and document the process.
Click the link below ⬇️
Thanks for reading — much love :)