I was one of the Grillers at Magic’s Grill or Chill session at the Co this week in Kuala Lumpur. The session was all about AR and VR and I went along as I’d just helped a New Zealand AR company, GEO AR Games, pivot to focus more on the China market.
We looked at Six Startups in the Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality scene in Kuala Lumpur. As the companies pitched I tried to sketch out their business model canvases as a basis for my questions. Here’s who was on the stage and what I thought of them.
RevoVR focuses on providing science education to school children to help them understand science concepts. I liked this startup because Timothy had got out of the building and spent time talking to students to understand their problems with science learning.
Where I thought the opportunity lay was in talking to teachers and understanding why students had problems with learning science. Then taking the best of their teaching methods and translating it into a VR reality.
This was a recurring theme. The startups seemed to be technically competent but understanding what made effective content to create the change that they needed to make for the VP seemed elusive.
I really liked this company as they had a clear idea of the problem and sector. The solution was to provide AR on construction sites to enable an at a glance verification that construction was happening in the right place and at the right time. The majority of the data could be generated from existing CAD data.
What was bizarre was that they were looking at a low cost freemium pricing model. This could be used on $50 to $500 projects and charging $4.99 a month didn’t show a great understanding of the B2B market they were trying to penetrate – especially when they could be creating significant value in time and cost savings as they improved the QA and project management process
TBA Studios were a couple of students who had put together quite a cool VR game based on battling chinese warriors in ancient costume.
There was lots of good stuff to be said about it however the blank spaces in the customer and value proposition sections of the business model canvas are quite damning.
It was a business that was built because they had the technology to do it. I couldn’t see the problem it solved who who it was for. They didn’t know either.
This startup started off talking about Autism and using VR to help autistic kids. I was wowed. Then he veered off into selling it into schools having proved that it worked with autistic kids. Gutted.
The sales process was overly long and complicated with what looked like a super high CAC and low LTV.
However I think if he pivoted to focus on autism there are huge opportunities to help the autistic kids. This is because normally when non-neurotypical people see the world differently we try to force them to conform to the world. In virtual reality we can make the world conform to their needs. That’s a truly life changing use of VR.
Aviasense as an AR and VR agency that was struggling to find it’s niche. It offers augmented reality and virtual reality to car showrooms and real estate developers.
I couldn’t see what the unique selling point was and it seemed to be somewhat undifferentiated. Their sales figures bore that out. The key problem with the model was that they could do all the fancy stuff but didn’t understand the changes that they needed to make in their customers customers in order to generate a good ROI for their customer.
I really concentrated on this pitch. The blank business model canvas above captures that I didn’t really understand what they were talking about.
It wasn’t focused, with a lot of random information presented in dense busy visuals.
When I spoke to the founder afterwards what was clear was that they could do some really clever stuff – they just hadn’t found the right home for it.
The AR and VR Scene In Kuala Lumpur
I’ve always wanted AR for my glasses for when I am trail running and doing triathlons. That is a super clear use case and one I’d pay for. A lot of AR seem predicated on the idea that we can provide whizzy visuals. Whizzy visuals will solve all marketing problems and everyone will get rich.
The problem is that the underlying content is critical. The users need to be given powerful and engaging stories. With those, just like in TV, film and game, they can have a success. Plot and character free content is a waste of time and just not compelling.
Great fun though and really glad I went.