With our mobile VR app, Look, about to hit the App Store, I wanted to share with you our journey: How 2 best friends from Albuquerque, NM built the greatest immersive media platform the world has ever seen.
The original idea for Vidi VR was created when our CEO Brian Herrera, was snowboarding in Colorado in 2015. Overlooking a beautiful mountain scene, Brian wanted to capture the experience as he saw it to share with his friends who couldn’t be there. He tried to take a picture with his phone but the picture didn’t do the scene justice. So he tried to take a picture of the reflection off his goggles in an attempt to capture what he was seeing, but that too failed to capture the experience.
Brian had been working with 3D camera systems and distributed camera networks at Draper Labs in Boston during his undergraduate summers, which exposed him to the magic that can happen when simple cameras work together in teams. He began researching, tinkering, and working to create a wearable 3D camera that would capture the full depth of an experience.
When he returned to U of A for school, he used a $5k scholarship to sponsor his own senior engineering design team to bring his moonshot idea, a wearable 3D camera, to fruition. During this time, Brian did the majority of the research and development in his room where he captured iconic photos with his early prototype 3D camera. With countless all nighters, endless hours of testing with many failures and start overs, a dream of what this could lead to carried Brian to continue on.
Brian and I have been best friends since we were in the 5th grade when we started playing football together and were teammates through high school. Albuquerque New Mexico was a small town feel for both of us and we always talked about our big dreams of the future. Brian started sharing his vision with me early on and initially, I had no clue what the hell he was talking about. As he was developing this product with a team of his classmates, I still had no idea what it was until he sent me a VR viewer for my phone and emailed me a 3D video that he had captured with his camera. My life has never been the same.
By the end of that school year(May 2016), Brian and his team had developed a working prototype of the wearable 3D camera. He was participating in some pitch competitions at U of A and was also invited to present at a startup conference in Miami called Emerge Americas. At this point, Brian was wanting me to join him to take this product and start an actual company. He convinced me that I should fly out to Miami to join him and his team the day before the event so I bought a plane ticket for way to much money and flew out to meet him.
If you would have asked us at the time what we were, we would struggle to find the words at that moment to express the product and vision behind what we were doing. But people felt our excitement and the passion behind our vision.I was inspired by the reactions the people had about our product and Brian and I were a dream team pitching alongside each other on the event floor. After this event, I knew I had to jump ship at my current job and join Brian on the journey.
I quit my job, and the next day I moved out of my place to move to out to Tucson. The urgency from Brian to get started was so intense I actually drove all night and arrived in Tucson at 5 am, 2 days after I quit my job. Brian and I got breakfast at Frank’s, went to Target to buy a white board and immediately set up our headquarters at his house. Brian had met a young genius, Ty, at a pitch competition whom we brought on to lead our software efforts.
Through a pitch competition, we had won office space at a workspace called AZCI. The workspace was in the middle of the desert, 30 min outside of Tucson at an old IBM facility. We commuted every day, picking Ty up on the way to work until the sun went down. For the first couple months, Brian was continuing development on the camera, Ty began working on the app, and I was teaching myself business development and marketing as I had no prior experience or knowledge.
We were hustling, trying to figure out how we could raise money and take our product to market as fast as we could. We went through 2 Tucson based accelerators and went through an NSF I-Corp program where we received a grant.
We were talking to as many mentors as we could including professors, and seasoned professionals to figure out how we could make it happen. Some people would tell us to focus solely on the development of the hardware to raise money while others would say we needed to build our app community. Although the advice we received pushed us to make mini pivots along the way, it all pushed us to keep developing every aspect of our platform and company.
We had one software developer working on the app and a team of 3 working on the development of our camera, and by the end of 6 months, we had 2 working prototype 3D cameras and a working MVP VR app to display the 3D content. When we achieved this huge milestone, we took the team on a team on a road trip to San Francisco for a pitch event.
Brian and I would do interviews on our road trip. In this iconic interview in Santa Monica, Brian is describing our platform and the definition of an experience and it turns into an epic example of the human experience at the perfect time towards the end.
I had met an individual named JC through LinkedIn who managed live music events and had a passion for innovative technology. After chatting over the phone, he loved what we were working on and offered to fly us out to Nashville to shoot 3D content with our newly developed camera at his event, Music City Big Break. Brian and I never turn down opportunities, and so following the pitch competition in SF, we flew out to Tennessee with our camera in hand. The days we spent in Nashville were an experience, to say the least. We shot content at the event and we quickly came to find out JC was extremely well connected in the Nashville music scene. We shot content of hit artists with a bar completely shut down for us to shoot, shot content of a Grammy award winning producer in his home studio, and shot at underground country venues. Through a friend, we were also introduced to Jacob, a successful Nashville native, whom we grabbed lunch with and who would become our first angel investor. Getting on the plane leaving Nashville, there was an iconic moment when Brian and I both looked at each other with a look that could only be described as, “wtf just happened.”
Brian chatting with the Ex-VP of Capital Records and Rick James’ Manager
It was December of 2016, our lease was up and we felt that the chapter of our company in Tucson had come to a close. We were accepted into TechCode, an accelerator in Mountain View, and felt that the Bay Area was a great place to grow our company. January 2017, we packed our cars and moved to Berkeley.
After moving, we quickly realized the commute from Berkeley to Mountain View to work out of the TechCode work space was not practical, but still participated in every pitch event and mentoring opportunity available. We began going to as many startup meetups in the Bay Area as we could where we would eventually meet one of our second investors.
When I say we never turn down an opportunity, we truly never turn down an opportunity. One time, we ended up in a small Asian restaurant in San Jose for a pitch event titled, “US — China New Economic Policies Conference and Investment Summit.” The premise of the event was a pitch competition combined with a modeling show. After the models did their show they assisted us by demoing our prototype and as you can see, we crushed it.
We started working out of Upload VR, a co-workspace in San Francisco, that provided an awesome community of people all working on amazing VR ventures. Coming from Tucson where no one knows what VR is yet, Upload was an awesome place to foster ideas and also where we met some of the most inspiring person in the VR industry including the UploadVR team at the time. A big shout out to Daisy Berns and her team for welcoming us into their community and going over the top to help us in any way they could.
In late 2017, we were dreaming of how we could revolutionize the social media business model with our platform. We HATE ads and wanted to allow our community members to earn for the value they contribute to the community.
We believed building a cryptocurrency economy into our social platform had the opportunity to revolutionize the ad model, but building such an economy would require us to become a cryptocurrency company and completely turn away from our mission.
Luckily, we discovered Simple Token, a platform that solved all of the big technical challenges to integrate a token economy for us. We shared our vision with the ST team, they we’re super excited about our vision and we became the 7th Founding Partner company. We will be integrating our token, GOODLOOKS, into Look Q4 2018.
You can read more about our partnership here.
Our Focus Now
We founded Vidi VR on a vision of how immersive 3D experiences could connect and inspire people around the world. Our mission: to make it seamless and easy for anyone to capture and share their experiences in VR.
There were not 3D cameras on the market when we started, so our main focus was to build our own — and we did — but we never wanted to be a camera company.
Our dream is to be a mobile VR platform that connects a community through shared experience.
The world is starting to wake up to immersive 3D content and companies are building 3D cameras! Now we can focus on what we love, our community.
Our primary focus right now is, Look, our iOS VR app for sharing and experiencing 3D content.
January 2018, we launch the first version of our mobile VR app, Look. The first 3D camera we discovered on the market was called the Hoot Cam. It was a very affordable camera and the quality was great, so we bought 50 Hoot Cams and sent them to creators around the world to experiment and test. Unfortunately, there was a significant number of cameras with critical defects and we had to find a better camera for our community. This was super unfortunate as we had built Look to support the output resolution for the Hoot, but moving on was necessary.
SID 3D Camera by WeeView
Luckily, not long after we took the blow of the Hoot Cam, we discovered a far better camera that blew our team away. The SID Camera by WeeView was the answer to our prayers and we couldn’t wait to get our hands on them!
Here are a few things we love about this camera:
- For its tiny size, the quality is absolutely stunning for both video and photos.
- WeeView offers a package with a camera and a stabilizing gimbal that provides an elevated experience to capturing content.
- The SID connects wireless to your phone so you can easily upload content.
PLUG: If you would like to get one for yourself and be one of the first creators on Look you can get yours here.
The SID content output is different from the Hoot, and it took almost a complete rebuild of Look to integrate, but was well worth all the work!
Launching Look — MAY 1, 2018
We are excited to finally launch an app to the world that does what we dreamed.
This version of Look allows creators to easily share their 3D pictures/videos and for our community to navigate and experience content.
If you have supported us along our journey, we can’t thank you enough. If you’re new to the movement, we would like to welcome you to our community and invite you to join Look. All you need is your iPhone and a VR to start experiencing!
Amazon Prime: VR Headset
Amazon Prime: SID 3D VR Camera
Look Forum — Open text forum for our community to share insights, ideas, and feedback.
All you have to do is LOOK! :)
Stan Sedberry (founder): firstname.lastname@example.org