Virtual and Augmented Reality is going global very, very fast

We need to reach outside our borders early and often

Silicon Valley has a lot of problems — It’s sexist, it’s racist, and it’s classist; Let’s just say, if you saw Silicon Valley at a party, you’d probably fake a phone call to avoid him.

And if those problems weren’t enough, the Cheeto-in-Chief’s immigration policies choke the diversity funnel even further, targeting the pathway for many foreign born workers to join US companies — the H-1B visa program. Almost every major tech hub has more foreign born workers than domestic ones, with Silicon Valley leading the way. Immigrants founded 51% of the current crop of billion dollar U.S. start ups. Nevertheless, the U.S. is making it harder for them to enter the country.

But the fact of the matter is, TECHNOLOGY IS GLOBAL. The majority of internet users are based outside of the States, with roughly half hailing from Asia. China is well on its way toward mass adoption, which will affect the States in a big way.

EYES ON CHINA AND SOUTHEAST ASIA

People in China and Southeast Asia were born into an expedited phase of technological development. For instance, everything the States experienced in the past 50 years (from dial-up modems to brick-sized phones to iPhone7s) Asia experienced in ten. Times are changing and consumers here were born for emerging tech like VR/AR.

While smartphone sales have peaked in the U.S., Europe, and China, consumers in Southeast Asia are just scratching the surface. Each month, another 3.8 million people join the online community, using smartphones as their primary platform. As telcos continue to push deals that lure 2G customers to 3G, people will invest in phones with better specs.

In Southeast Asia, the “Big 6” (Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia) are the world’s fastest growing regions for mobile games. This marks a healthy appetite for new entertainment. Half of new Vuforia users came from China and Southeast Asia, showing developers are already prepping for the coming AR revolution.

Yet,VC funding for emerging tech is practically non-existent.

The VR landscape in China has changed drastically in the past two years, but the fact remains: Silicon Valley is still the cradle of funding. Many of the up and coming creatives in Southeast Asia don’t have the resources to fly out to China or Silicon Valley more than once a year.

Still, that hasn’t stopped anyone from making incredible experiences. Thai horror game Araya has made a million in revenue - a worthy feat in any market. And they did it without a cent of funding.

As of right now, all tech news and trends flow from Silicon Valley out to the rest of the world. But with big actors in China like BAT (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent) building out their own platforms, that pattern is bound to change.

It’s going to become increasingly important to reach outside our borders, see what’s happening in these communities, and collaborate with entrepreneurs servicing future facing consumers.

CROSS CULTURAL COLLABORATION MAKES BETTER VR

Creatives in the States can learn a lot from regular contact with creatives from different countries. Allow me to guide you through a little thought experiment. Imagine your last trip to a new country. You’re walking along a crowded street; your eyes are bulging at the bright colors and passing faces. You pay close attention to the road and foreign traffic signs. Every time you say hello to a stranger, your brain fires neurons at double-speed, sweating to shave fractions off the millisecond it takes to absorb any and all age, social class, and gender cues; then it fires back the appropriate ‘hello.’ The very act of living becomes an exercise in heightened awareness.

Deep and regular contact with different cultures changes you on a fundamental level. It makes you more creative, more trusting, and a better problem solver — all traits we’re going to need to build the next generation of VR.

According a recent study, “when we have to work with people who are not like ourselves, we tend to prepare more thoroughly and work harder to marshal our arguments, and we do better work as a result. Diversity is beneficial for teams precisely because we react differently to people who are different from us. “

Luckily, we’re at the very beginning of this movement, which means now is the perfect time to unite differing cultures and bridge the gap between the US and Asian VR communities.

INTRODUCING MADE IN ASIA

Even though the VR industry still has a long way to go, we can evolve faster if we evolve together.

Made in Asia facilitates cross cultural collaboration by celebrating VRAR games, films, tools, and art from around Asia, starting with China and Southeast Asia. Made In Asia creates a regular space to showcase VRAR, provide feedback, and connect with fellow entrepreneurs who are experiencing similar struggles. We show the US community what’s popular in the fastest growing VR market in the world, and create a shared space for cross cultural collaboration, bringing new eyes and insights to VR.

Over the next few months, we’ll be building out a slate of events what’s happening in Asia. We’ll have speakers and programs from Asian tech leaders such as the as the Aerospace Engineer son of Indonesia’s former Prime Minister - whose organization, Orbit Ventura, empowers Indonesia around emerging tech like VR, AR, IoT, and AI.

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If you’re a US or Asia based founder, VC, or entrepreneur who is interested in offering feedback, connections, or want to get involved, fill out this form and let us know!