When Mike Cadoux launched AR/VR startup QReal 3D Technologies, the company had a very different focus than it does today.
After running Peak Organic Brewing Company for a decade, Cadoux dove into the fledgling world of augmented reality to create realistic models of food. Today, his company has a much wider range. It produces AR experiences for brands like Walmart, Panera Bread and Sony. QReal was purchased by Glimpse in 2016 and was listed on NASDAQ as the first pure AR/VR/3D software and services company.
As the general manager for QReal, Cadoux has built a successful AR/VR startup and weathered the challenges of entering that very new space. On October 27, Cadoux hosted an AR/VR sector event for Founders Network where he provided the process of building a company reliant on burgeoning technology.
Follow the money
Cadoux’s instincts about the future of augmented reality and virtual reality were right. The technology, once developed, would explode in popularity.
But his instincts were not his only guide. He also paid close attention to the investments of big tech.
He watched tech titans like Microsoft and Apple invest billions of dollars in augmented and virtual reality. Their choices signaled what was coming next for the tech space. For example, there was Apple’s depth-sensing camera and Microsoft’s HoloLens, an AR/VR headset released in 2016.
“When all those people are seeing the same future, you feel pretty good it’s going to happen,” Cadoux says. “We just followed the money. I knew about the power of this technology and understood its inevitability.”
Changing an AR/VR startup’s vision
When Cadoux launched QReal, AR/VR technology was “a very nascent field with huge potential,” he says. It had a lot of promise, but the technology was not yet fully developed.
To avoid the fate of well-funded AR/VR startups that went bankrupt during this early period, QReal was forced to evolve its very narrow scope. With its focus on AR food, the company wasn’t taking in enough business. So, Cadoux and his team expanded their focus and transitioned the specialized startup to a full-service virtual reality software and services company.
“We knew this architecture needed to be created,” Cadoux says. “There was no powerhouse. We, with the talent we had, could own that field if we despecialized.”
He saw a gap in the burgeoning tech space of AR/VR startups and decided to fill it. Cadoux and his team simply decided to stop turning away business.
“We were already getting calls and sending people to other places. It was more like a decision to start taking business,” he says.
Different paths to success
One of the best pieces of business advice Cadoux received during his career came from a good friend working in real estate in 2008. Market activity died during the Great Recession, and people in real estate were getting drunk at work.
His friend told him, “It’s just a big circus and everyone’s getting theirs.”
This blunt declaration went against what the pair had assumed to be true: they would achieve business success if they followed the rules. Go to school. Become an associate. Buy a house. Keep to the path forged by those who had come before and reached success.
Business webinars and memoirs of successful founders capitalize on this notion, but there is no established blueprint for success, says Cadoux. That is why he’s wary of giving advice.
Cadoux grew up among entrepreneurs. In fact, one of his family members created Stonyfield Farms organic yogurt, he says. As a result, he has watched people reach success in business from a variety of different paths.
“Business doesn’t follow a script,” he says. “I think you can succeed in so many different ways.”