While studying Digital Media at The University of Central Florida, Kyle Morrand, Founder of 302 Interactive, put together a Kickstarter campaign to fund a side project. He was building a computer game and needed additional funding. The Kickstarter campaign was successful but, according to Morrand, he was not. Morrand admitted that, at the time, he didn't really know what he was doing on the business side of things and, as a result, the project was put on hold.
"My original plan was definitely to start my own company," he said. "Instead, I worked full-time for several different simulation and digital media companies for a few years. After about a year, I started doing some contract projects on the side under the name 302 Studios, named after my college apartment. I had friends work with me on different projects and business steadily increased. Towards the end of last year, I noticed I was making about as much money doing contract work as I was at my full-time job. With proper marketing and business development, I saw an opportunity to ramp things up and went for it."
Morrand left his day job to devote his exclusive attention to 302 Interactive, the new name for 302 Studios. In the past year, he went from one employee to seven as the projects continued to roll in. Morrand describes the culture of 302 Interactive as very relaxed, supportive and creative. All the employees are close friends and spend time together outside of the office. When it comes to the actual work they do, Morrand explained it as follows.
"We take interactive technologies and create experiences for our clients," he said. "For example, we have a client called Verapy. They're doing virtual reality physical therapy. To assist them, we make games that therapists can do in virtual reality to allow their clients to have a more immersive experience. On the doctor side of things, this gives them more analytics and data they can use to do their job better and provide a better overall experience for their patients."
Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are 302 Interactive's main segments. VR is increasing in popularity on the medical side of things as practitioners look for immersion opportunities for training and patient engagement. According to Morrand, AR is great for marketing and gives companies the ability to push their brands and reach their target markets in unique ways. For example, the team worked on a bobble head project where users, using the app, can scan the bobble head of a professional athlete to get statistics and other interesting information.
Morrand shared what he's working on now and what he enjoys most about running his own business. "I'm working on a project to digitize the brochures you see at airports and hotels," he said. "These racks have lots of brochures for various attractions and things to do, but the way it's displayed is not ideal. This new concept will utilize motion-based activation to allow users to engage with a screen. The screen will display slideshows of different businesses and allow the user to interact with it. There will also be a lead capture component to allow businesses to engage with the lead.
What I enjoy most is working with people I care about. We're a passionate group and we're all friends. I also love being able to work with awesome technology. We have a partner company that bought a Magic Leap. They weren't using it and now I'm playing with it. I also love seeing people's reactions to new technology."
Looking ahead, Morrand is focused on stability. In 2018, the company experienced a tremendous amount of growth. Managing that growth is the number one priority for the new year. They also want fewer, but bigger projects. They want to get in front of brands like Coca-Cola and showcase what they can do for them. On a personal level, Morrand is committed to getting out there, doing more interviews and promoting the brand.
What advice does Morrand have for aspiring entrepreneurs? "Starting your own business doesn't have to be a binary thing," he said. "You don’t have to quit your job and go all in. You can work on your idea for five to fifteen hours per week and make progress over a few years. That's exactly what I did. Also, it's important to establish your brand, create relationships and be consistent. Remember, you can have the best idea and provide great service, but so does everyone else. Get out and network and make real connections. Make yourself unique by helping rather than selling. On a business level, I walk into anything I do as if I'm helping not selling."