“Because it’s a higher hurdle to start with, as you get funded and grow, the odds of a woman-led business succeeding are higher than average” – Kirin Sinha, CEO of Illumix
By Doreen Hemlock
She is one of Forbes magazine’s 30 Under 30s, a math and engineering expert with degrees from MIT, Stanford and Cambridge, and the founder of a company with $15 million in funding and millions in revenue. .
Now Kirin Sinha – CEO of augmented reality company Illumix – has moved from Silicon Valley to Miami, lured by the city’s focus on tech, finance and the metaverse and a lifestyle with more opportunity. to meet other people.
RefreshMiami spoke with Sinha, 29, about her move, her new “Try-On” virtual tech, the Metaverse, and being a woman of color in tech. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Q: After seven years in business in Silicon Valley, why did you move to Miami?
I moved here at the beginning of April. A few things influenced my decision: I had looked at where the emerging tech scenes were in the US, and with the shift to working from home, some previously second-tier cities have really taken advantage. Moreover, in entrepreneurship, being close to financing is always important, just to have the chance to meet someone or go to a meeting.
I visited three growing tech cities: Los Angeles, Miami, and Austin. Miami was the big winner, because you have a bit of the financial ecosystem of New York moving here as well as the technology of California moving in. It’s an incredible chemistry that others don’t have because of Miami’s proximity to NY.
It’s exciting to be part of a city with a young and vibrant circle of entrepreneurship, especially in the crypto and metaverse realms, where Illumix is located. Miami was doing more in those spaces.
Q: Did you also move your business to Miami?
Illumix has 30 employees and we are all fully remote since COVID. From what I understand, when a business is distributed, you are based where the majority of the employees are. So technically we’re still a California company, but as we continue to grow, we might want to move more operations to Florida.
Q: Describe your business and your vision.
We see Illumix as an underlying platform that allows brands to enter the Metaverse space. In today’s world, brands have physical presences and increasingly offer digital experiences. In the simplest example, they will have a store and a website, then an e-commerce and maybe games or a TV show.
Our company’s goal is to bring these two elements together: physical and digital, to merge the benefits of both: the freedom and creativity that digital enables and the value that in-person presence brings. The applications of our technology are numerous, from gaming to shopping to most of our daily activities. We consider it to be the WordPress or Squarespace of the Metaverse – to allow anyone with drag-and-drop interfaces to engage in this new 3D interactive space.
Q. I understand that you are creating a product that allows online shoppers to “virtually” try on rings, necklaces, eyewear and other luxury items.
As more and more brands engage in this combination of digital and physical reality, one of the biggest areas unlocked is shopping. Traditionally, shopping was tied to a physical location: you had to go to a store, be in the right city, and hope they had the right inventory in your size to see what something might look like on you. But this concept seems outdated. Now, most shopping in the United States is done online.
The idea of trying things out over the Internet is changing. Today we order a bunch of stuff online, see how it works and send some back. But it’s so inefficient, not to mention its global environmental impact.
So imagine a website, and next to the “Buy Now” button is a “Try Now” button. You click on it, your camera opens, and immediately you see things about you: a ring on your finger, glasses on your face… It’s instantaneous, in real time, no need to take a picture and to download it. We’ll live with that for several luxury brands this quarter.
Q. What are you doing in the game space?
When we started, we made our own game, Five Nights with Freddie AR. The game was a resounding success. We’ve done over 35 million downloads organically; it has been at the top of the App Store several times on Google and Apple; and it reached 6.7 million active users – something almost never done in our space before. Building on this success, Disney invested in Illumix through its accelerator program. From there, we opened up the technology to other entertainment companies.
Q. How do you define Metaverse?
Metaverse is the evolution of the Internet that allows people to immerse themselves and actively participate in a 3D world. You are freed from that kind of passive engagement, locked behind the screen, where we spend the majority of our waking hours today. It’s a transition from 2D and passive to 3D and active.
There are many different ways to engage with the metaverse. One is glasses. Some are now via mobile and web, and some are via the fully cryptographic universes of Web 3.0.
Q. Being a woman of color in tech is a double minority. How did it go for you?
It’s similar to how it happened in my STEM education. It really boils down to: what is the assumption that someone comes in with? Do you get the benefit of the doubt or do you have to prove you’re worth being there?
You have to work harder to get where you are, have more credentials, have more evidence and data to get people to give you the same level of benefits. You find your champions along the way, who see beyond that and really look at the potential. But you must be ready to be rejected more frequently and to prove yourself more. Yet statistics show that because it’s a higher hurdle to start with, as you get funded and grow, the chances of a woman-led business succeeding are higher than average.
Q. How is Miami different from Palo Alto for you?
What struck me the most is that there are a lot more people around. In San Francisco for the past year, if I’ve been to a coffee shop or even a happy hour, there was hardly anyone there. It was a very isolated feeling that I had. And here I can go out any time of the day, and there’s real energy and life force going on. There are always people around, who engage and meet. And that’s really good, especially when you’re moving to a new city.
People here have a more diverse set of interests, not just technology. And that’s a welcome change. It is refreshing.
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