by Megan Dunsby
Updated: Mar 2, 2017 Published: Mar 2, 2017
Once a fictional concept, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies have been growing exponentially in the UK and globally with brands realising the benefits these highly immersive experiences offer for consumer engagement.
One start-up helping to lead this trend and democratise AR and VR technology is Zappar, a business which uses AR to bring everyday objects to life.
Founded in 2011 and created at the University of Cambridge, the Zappar app reads ‘Zapcodes’ via mobile phones and is then able to deliver video, audio, 3D animation, photos, games and links.
To date, the fast-growth tech business has worked with over 200 high-profile companies, including the likes of Coca Cola, Playstation, Sony and Nickelodeon, and recently bagged a major round of investment to support the development of new products, new hires, and international expansion.
With AR presenting an “exciting future […] for connecting devices to the world around us”, we caught up with Zappar’s inspiring, and witty [read his definition of business journey!] co-founder and CEO Caspar Thykier to learn more about Zappar and the brains behind it…
What is the best piece of business advice you’ve ever been given?
Only hire people who you’d be happy to sit next to on a long haul flight. Oh, and get a great financial director you can trust, alongside in-house counsel.
The thing you most wish you’d known when you started Zappar?
That ephemeral messaging and Face Filters would be all the rage. That way, we could have started Snapchat as they launched six months after us!
The biggest challenge or obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
Hiring good people… and avoiding recruiters on LinkedIn.
Golden rule of business?
For tech start-ups: hire engineers from the University of Cambridge. Honestly, your business will be better for it. [Find out more about talent in Cambridge here].
Entrepreneurial company you most admire?
I have five:
- Google. The launch of Google Cardboard during all the hardware hype around virtual reality still makes me smile.
- Uber. Who knew hailing a cab could be a talking point.
- Lego. As fresh as it ever was.
- Netflix. Bye-bye cable.
- Apple. So much of my disposable income goes on Apple that I wish I’d purchased shares.
Entrepreneur you most admire?
Business achievement you’re proudest of?
The amazing people we’ve hired. Our ethos is ‘one team, one dream’.
There’s no ‘I’ in team – and all those other awful clichés.
Having just announced a $3.75m Series A round, what are your words of advice for businesses raising investment?
Remember that you’re interviewing the investor as much as they’re interviewing you.
What metrics do you monitor most in your business?
Staff happiness and customer satisfaction.
Regrets? Name one thing you’d change about your business journey given another chance?
I walk to work luckily! I really do feel sorry for people who have to commute into town every day – I did it for years and would definitely have changed that.
If you were prime minister for the day what is the one thing you’d change for entrepreneurs?
I’d pass a bill to make all data roaming charges free anywhere in the world.
Learn more about Zappar and the story behind the augmented reality start-up here.