Futurus CEO Annie Eaton: Strong Culture Begets Better Innovation - Transcend Commercial Real Estate Brokerage

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July 25, 2019

Futurus CEO Annie Eaton: Strong Culture Begets Better Innovation

Futurus CEO Annie Eaton: Strong Culture Begets Better Innovation

Watch the video here.


Patrick: Well I’m here with Annie from Futurus, one of our Transcend clients. One of our favorite clients, by the way.


Annie: Thank you.


Patrick: And we don’t just say that to everyone.


Annie: Nice! Thank you. I feel appreciated.


Patrick: If you don’t notice, Annie is wearing some goggles.


Annie: Yes.


Patrick: And one of the first questions that I have for Annie and again, we’re going to get into culture and some other things. But you are an AR and VR company.


Annie: Yes.


Patrick: Correct?


Annie: Correct.


Patrick: So what’s the difference between AR and VR?


Annie: Great so-


Patrick: And by the way, she’s looking at things and you can- oh that’s a T-Rex right here right in front of us.


Annie: Yep, that is a T-Rex. There’s a jellyfish, there’s a turtle, there’s everything. So yes, our company does virtual and augmented reality software development. We are starting to get into even more types of emerging technology which is exciting for us.


Patrick: Cool. I love it.


Annie: But the difference between the two- with augmented reality, AR, you are overlaying digital content onto the physical world.


Patrick: Ok.


Annie: Sometimes this can be called mixed reality as well. It depends on the hardware. This device that I’m wearing today which is called the Magic Leap 1. It is, they refer to internally as spatial computing. So I mean, we’re kind of in a terminology nightmare right now, but basics you need to know is AR is overlay of digital content onto the physical world.


Patrick: Right.


Annie: With an AR headset or MR headset like what I’m wearing right now, I can actually see you. So I can see the camera, I can see Patrick.


Patrick: Yep.


Annie: I can see everything in this room, but I can also see fun things like the T-Rex that’s been walking around the table this entire time. Maybe Patrick will hold up the camera to the camera. And you can see, he’s literally walking around the room.


Patrick: That is really cool.


Annie: With virtual reality or VR, that is a simulated environment. You are also wearing a head mounted display, but is completely occluding your vision to the physical world. So all you see


Patrick: Gotcha.


Annie: is what’s in the headset. You’re able to interact with objects, perform tasks, even have multi-player social situations in these devices.


Patrick: Gotcha.


Annie: But the majority of the content is virtual and rendered from 3-D models.


Patrick: Cool. Ok, so like for what you guys did for the Superbowl-


Annie: Yes.


Patrick: Which one was that?


Annie: So the project we did for the Superbowl was virtual reality.


Patrick: Was VR, ok.


Annie: It was- we had a simulated Mercedes Benz Stadium, we had created these neighborhood and school scenes for kids to be able to go through these exercises-


Patrick: Gotcha.


Annie: And learn how to react in challenging situations without actually putting them in these situations. So it’s kind of like training for kids about how not to be bullies.


Patrick: Can I do that with my kids?


Annie: Yeah.


Patrick: Just drop them in?


Annie: Oh yeah, they can come over and do it. It might be good.


Patrick: They need that.


Annie: I don’t know.

Patrick: So, one thing that’s always impressed me about Futurus and we’ve been here a lot because we love their space. You have one of the cooler spaces that-


Annie: Well, they found it for us so.


Patrick: And typically we help people with the design and everything else. But you however knew exactly what you wanted, had it all laid out. It was really cool to see. But, you guys have a tightness that I just don’t- I mean we see in some companies, but y’all are so tight. You’re so friendly to one another. You guys just seem to genuinely enjoy being around each other. How did you create that? How are you intentional about that?


Annie: Yeah, so that was something that I knew from the very beginning that I wanted to create a workplace that I had not experienced before.

Patrick: Yep.

Annie: You know, I’ve worked in some great places before starting this company, but none of them I really felt had that familial quality and well of there is a very high level of professionalism here and what we do-


Patrick: Yes, there is.


Annie: And the software development.


Patrick: Yep.


Annie: You know, you’re spending more time with these people than you are with your own family so we wanted to make sure that it was not just a great place to work physically and a great product that we’re creating, but also that we like working with each other.


Patrick: Yep.


Annie: We did a lot of research before we did quite a bit of hiring last year. We went from five employees to ten really quickly. And now ever since then with the addition of some contractors and part-time employees, we’re up to fifteen.


Patrick: Nice. Yep.


Annie: But with that, we were really intentional about culture fit, making sure that people would be able to communicate with each other. We have a big challenge of working in the unknown so a lot of the products we create have never been done before, which is really exciting.


Patrick: Yeah, that’s got to be fun too.


Annie: That can be a high stress situation, so we wanted to make sure that we found people who were really willing to adapt and change.


Patrick: Yep.


Annie: And with a lot of software developers, especially like that is a super regimented task.


Patrick: Yes.


Annie: Like everything is code based, but what we’re doing is also has a lot of creative elements to it so we tried to find the people who could balance that.


Patrick: Yep.


Annie: As well as think differently about challenges and also not get to stressed out when something didn’t work.


Patrick: Yep.


Annie: Instead, think of ways that you can figure out how to make it work.


Patrick: Yeah, I love that.


Annie: Thank you.


Patrick: And one other thing that’s always impressed me with you guys too is your marketing. You do a great job of you know, the self marketing and the company does a great job of marketing too. So I’m curious, what’s one of the cooler or more creative things you’ve done with marketing? I actually have what I think it is. But I’m not going to bring it up. I want to know what you, you personally- what is one of the more creative things you guys have done as far as marketing is concerned?


Annie: Well, there are a few. And when we think about marketing, like we’re also just thinking about how to tell our brand’s story and just the whole package of what you’re getting when you work with us. So because we do so much custom work and so much in the unknown, it’s not like we have one product that we can just blast you with ads. We have to come up with creative ways to do that. In addition to quite a few speaking engagements and education that I do, we also try to try out new technology and share our findings with people through both our blog as well as our occasional Twitch stream.


Patrick: Ok.


Annie: So Twitch is an amazing platform for gamers or other people- anyone. To be able to live stream to a public audience. There are even ways to generate revenue that way. We don’t do it for that reason.


Patrick: Right.


Annie: But it allows us to say, ok we got a new piece of hardware- how can we create an engaging kind of review of that hardware, but put on like our own internal production?


Patrick: Huh, cool.


Annie: So we’ve been able to test out some things, get live chat feedback from the audience.


Patrick: Yep.


Annie: And really establish ourselves as people who are on the cutting edge of trying these new technologies. But I have a feeling you’re going to talk about our swag.


Patrick: No, no, no.


Annie: No? Ok!


Patrick: I’m going to butcher it, but it was like the Pokemon Go thing that you guys did for Dragon Con.


Annie: Yes, Dragon Con.


Patrick: That to me, was brilliant.


Annie: Ok, well ok on that note- so what he’s referring to is we have created an interactive scavenger hunt using micro-location enabled devices so beacons, but this could be done with geo-fencing as well.


Patrick: Yeah.


Annie: To actually give you kind of the scavenger hunt around Dragon Con. We were doing this with the Trek Track. Which is Star Trek fans.


Patrick: Awesome, awesome.


Annie: Which if you would have come to our office yesterday, we were actually wearing Star Trek uniforms promoting it for this year.


Patrick: Nice.


Annie: So you missed that, unfortunately.


Patrick: I did, yes. This would be a good interview to be in the Star Trek uniforms.


Annie: Yeah, but we actually had great success with that. We had hundreds of people download and play.


Patrick: Yep.


Annie: And for our first year with very little promotion that was amazing. And then we realized this was a scale-able like we could re-skin the graphics and everything. And we actually created a kind of bird watching version of it that we brought to a conference in Mexico last fall.


Patrick: Very cool.


Annie: And now, it is actually going to Las Vegas next week.


Patrick: Is it really?


Annie: To be at the office Star Trek convention in partnership with one of the vendors there. So-


Patrick: That is brilliant. That is awesome.


Annie: So it’s really exciting times. We were all in our uniforms yesterday doing a photo shoot. I’ll have to send you some pics.


Patrick: Alright, one last question.


Annie: Yes?


Patrick: So I’ve always been fascinated by AR and VR because commercial real estate and everyone keeps saying it’s coming. It’s gonna come and yet it still hasn’t come.


Annie: Right.


Patrick: But in your opinion, since you’re in it every day- what industries are poised to be affected the most or improved the most by AR and VR.


Annie: So one of the big ones for us is training and I guess that’s not industry specific, but more any industry.


Patrick: Yeah, yeah.


Annie: So being able to train to do new tasks or unfamiliar tasks both before you go to perhaps an unsafe work situation.


Patrick: Yeah.


Annie: Like if you’re going on an oil rig in the middle of the ocean like that’s dangerous.


Patrick: It is.


Annie: It would be nice to really get a feel of what it’s like before you go and really be able to prepare yourself. Or onsite, so there are ways using augmented reality to overlay information. Kind of like what I’m doing here, except not a Tyrannosaurus Rex.


Patrick: Right.


Annie: Something actually useful to your job to be able to assist you while onsite at these jobs. So that’s a big one.


Patrick: That makes sense.


Annie: In real estate and just even on the commercial side as well as residential or just product visualization, I think being about to really lay out your rooms.


Patrick: Yeah.


Annie: And understand what’s going to fit and how it’s going to look. Cause I mean, not everyone can have the vision that I had when I came in here.


Patrick: I mean, you did. If you could see the ceiling tiles in here. I mean, everything you’ve done is pretty amazing.


Annie: It’s been a lot. A lot of work, but I’m so happy. Like we get so many compliments which I mean a lot of it was not just our vision but our combined vision. And your ability to negotiate it on our behalf. So that was helpful.


Patrick: Jennifer and Kristi more so than me.


Annie: Yes, they were rock stars.


Patrick: They were rock stars. Amazing. I just kind of get to do the cools things like we’re doing here.


Annie: Yes, but that being said you know, coming into the space and being able to see what it looks like with that wall knocked down.


Patrick: Yeah.


Annie: We just thought we wanted a wall knocked down, because we needed more space but we didn’t know what that was going to actually look like. And there was some uncertainty and some tension there and we came in and were like oh this is good.


Patrick: This is good.


Annie: But it could have been you know, a very different way. And once a wall is knocked down, it’s costly to add it back.


Patrick: It’s kind of permanent.


Annie: Yeah, a little bit. So anyway, just for visualization of products and plans.


Patrick: Yeah.


Annie: And the architecture space or building construction or just any of this.


Patrick: Yeah. I always think you know, for me, how cool it would be to have what you have on.


Annie: Well, I’m going to pass it over. I want him to see it. And I probably have what I call magneto face which is like the little imprint. But you’ll just kind of expand it from the back.


Patrick: Pull it. Perfect.


Annie: You can use this to add new things to the environment. There’s a menu over here.


Patrick: Wow, that is so cool.


Annie: So you can like click and drag and you should be able to hopefully see like the T-Rex, and the cloud, and everything.


Patrick: I’ve got the jellyfish. I’m going to put the jellyfish somewhere by- oh right there next to the chair. But what I’m thinking is which would be really cool. Is if you had a client for what we do and to be able to have the menu that no one can see except for me, which is really cool by the way. But to be able to drag benching, and I’m going to put benching over here. You know, right now what I’m seeing is a fish. Which gosh, this is so cool. But that would be so cool. Ok, now I can visualize this 12 person bench. Instead of this little you know, knight at the round table. I’ve now got my desks and everything else. So that to me would be so helpful.


Annie: Yeah.


Patrick: Because people don’t know. They don’t know and they kind of walk around like where is the furniture go? Where could we put the technology? To me, this would help speed up our process so much.


Annie: Awesome, well we’ll have to work on that.


Patrick: I know. Annie, thank you so much.


Annie: Thank you, Patrick.


Patrick: It was a pleasure as always seeing you.


Annie: Yes.



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