Get to Know a MassChallenge UK Finalist: Timelooper

MassChallenge UK is booming with incredible talent and after having an amazing mentor matching week last week, all the startups are beginning to sprint to get the most out of the programme.

One of these teams is Timelooper, which is launching at various historical sites around London today. Timelooper aims to send people back in time and experience the past through virtual reality.

Co-founder and CEO Yigit Yigiter tells us about the vision and journey so far:

MC: Give me the elevator pitch for Timelooper.

YY: Timelooper is a mobile location-based virtual reality time travel app that transports visitors to the most memorable moments of amazing places. By providing a versatile and scaleable platform for proprietary, open-sourced and user-generated 360-degree video content, Timelooper creates value by producing and hosting immersive, educational and entertaining content. Our partnership-driven business model is based on both free and premium content.

Where/when did you have that “a-ha!” moment for envisioning Timelooper?

Timelooper was my childhood dream. During my many travels with my grandparents, it dawned on me that there should be a better way to tell history. I shared my vision first in my application essay to Harvard Business School in 2006, even before the launch of the first iPhone. Due to the unavailability of the technology required to truly bring history to life in a rich multimedia environment, the business model was not scalable back then.

In August of 2014, my wife, who works at Google, brought a Google cardboard virtual reality (VR) headset to home. At that moment, I started connecting the dots. 360-degree virtual reality videos give people the feeling of being in a different place. I want to help people feel they are in a different place, at a different time. Six months after the day that I realized all of the pieces were in place to bring my vision to life on smartphones everywhere, I quit my job and launched Timelooper with three other incredibly talented partners.

Tell me a bit about your background: What did you do before Timelooper?

I have 12 years of global experience in the high-tech hardware, consumer products and education fields. My corporate experience was gained through various local, regional and global roles at Unilever, Dell, SK Telecom, and Pronet (a Cinven private equity portfolio company). At FastPath Learning, an educational technology startup, I gained valuable start-up experience and expertise in delivering products and services with an educational element. Prior to founding Timelooper in 2015, I served as the chief marketing officer of Turkey’s largest security systems company. I have lived and worked in the United States, Italy, South Korea, Russia and Turkey. I hold a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree from The Harvard Business School.

What does entrepreneurship mean to you? How did you first get involved?

Entrepreneurship means finding solutions to existing problems and taking the required actions to bring the solutions to life. I believe that you don’t have to found your own company to be an entrepreneur. You can act as an entrepreneur and lead your organization to create value. I feel like I’ve always brought an entrepreneurial spirit to my roles and worked hard to deliver innovation and agility to the organizations I’ve served.

Why Masschallenge and what are your goals while being involved with the accelerator?

I envision Timelooper becoming a global player and a pioneer in both the virtual reality and travel industries. In order to achieve this goal, we need a diverse support system that is also global in nature. MassChallenge offers expertise and diversity through its mentorship program and network of startups, as well as a global presence through its international branches.

What is the pain point you’re hoping to solve with Timelooper?

Every year, more than 500 million people visit thousands of points of interest to get a glimpse into the incredible scenes and memorable moments that took place there. However, visitors struggle with learning the true historic and cultural meaning of a place from one-dimensional guide books and hard-to-hear audio and tour guides. Site managers struggle with trying to attract visitors to their sites in an increasingly competitive tourism market. To address these issues, Timelooper creates visually-compelling and historically-accurate 360-degree virtual reality time travel videos to make site visits more immersive, educational, and entertaining.

What do you do to blow off steam when you’re taking a break from changing the world?

I have enjoyed my previous industry and start-up roles, but I have never enjoyed anything as much as building this business with my founding partners. I have moments of exhaustion that are wholly balanced out by countless moments of joy and exhilaration. I don’t feel like I need to blow off steam. I just love every minute of this incredible journey.

What’s one quality that you think entrepreneurs need to have — and why?

Entrepreneurs all need to possess a strong drive to make a difference. As an entrepreneur, you are trying to change the status quo to bring a vision to life, so your inner drive and determination are the catalysts for overcoming challenges and making a difference in your chosen industry.

Be sure to check out the Timelooper launch on 22 July!

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