The pandemic ruined their IRL company. So they launched a business in the metaverse.
Kenneth Landau and Jaime Lopez were in the process of launching an events marketing agency in 2020. Then the pandemic hit.
When COVID destroyed the prospect of real-world gatherings, they turned to the virtual world, and founded Mytaverse, a company that throws events for businesses in custom-built metaverse spaces.
With the goal of creating a more interactive alternative to Zoom, the company launched in April 2020, and has built everything from virtual conference rooms to auditoriums and showrooms.
“COVID forced our hand,” says Landau, an entrepreneur and civil engineer by training.
The metaverse is a loose definition for a collection of platforms that create immersive worlds where people can play games, shop, and socialize. Mytaverse is one of many companies piling into the nascent sector, which some believe could become a multi-trillion dollar industry. But unlike metaverse projects like Roblox or The Sandbox, which cater to individual consumers, Mytaverse is part of a new crop of startups appealing directly to businesses, and hoping to capitalize on interest in a virtual corporate world, which may may become more relevant as the work-from-home battle rages throughout the U.S.
Lopez, chief technical officer for Mytaverse, is a physicist with a master’s degree in electrical engineering. He created the prototype for Mytaverse’s first product. The virtual attendees were able to enter via a link using any type of computer with a wifi connection, and use an avatar to walk around and “teleport” between multiple rooms including an exhibition hall and a virtual conference room.
Other products include an auditorium where users can listen to keynote speakers on a Zoom screen, or network with coworkers—just like they would at a “real life” conference. For a face-to-face conversation, users can turn on their computer cameras, and their image will appear superimposed over the face of their avatar.
By December of 2020, Mytaverse landed PepsiCo as their first client. The food conglomerate hosted a conference using Mytaverse’s technology in 2021, with keynote speakers and an audience of 450 employees sitting in a virtual presentation space, according to Landau.
The company charges clients $9,500 per month for companies to use up to five simple metaverse templates, like an auditorium or conference room with company-specific branding. Prices can exceed $35,500 a month for a package that includes up to 15 custom environments. Each package has a limit on the number of people that can be in a metaverse at one time, and how many hours the metaverse spaces can be used per month.
Apart from conferences, other Mytaverse customers like French plane manufacturer Dassault and manufacturer Tekni-Plex are using its technology to display products to prospective buyers, ranging from plastic packaging to a private airplane in 3D. This process saves the company from having to send samples, or fly in a customer that may not end up buying, Lopez said.
After closing a $7.6 million funding round this week, Mytaverse is looking to expand its 29-person team, and develop technology to incorporate crypto and NFTs into its platform in the future.
While companies may have flocked to virtual conferences during the depths of the pandemic, they’re now pushing hard for employees to return to office and host in-person events. Google and Apple both mandated employees return to in-person work this month.
But Landau and Lopez are convinced that even in a world where COVID cases are lower, companies will still use their metaverse event spaces.
“Every corporation in the world now understands that you don’t need to travel five hours on an airplane, to have one meeting with one customer,” Landau said. “And you don’t need to spend $5 million bringing 1,000 people into the same place when you can do other types of interactions.”
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