Tell us a little bit about your background (education, previous jobs etc.)
Before joining Virti, I worked for about seven years in both the video games and VR space in Bristol. A few highlights of my career history include working on Adventure Time: I See Ooo, a BAFTA nominated VR game, a non-VR anti Brexit game called Not Tonight, which was very successful commercially. I have also worked on projects used by companies such as IBM and Just Eat.
When did you first become interested in virtual and augmented reality technology?
I was first exposed to VR in 2013, as a friend of mine had the original Oculus developer kit (DK1) which we used to develop a game based on a combination of Nena’s 99 Red Balloons and Dire Straights’ Money For Nothing (https://youtu.be/ypykH8YBV0w?t=2302).
But once the novelty of the new technology wore off, my interest in VR wore thin as the hardware wasn’t really capable of delivering the experiences the industry was selling. My interest returned after more recent hardware improvements in the domain of XR. The use case for XR tech in training and education is growing stronger, which makes working in this sector more appealing to me.
When (and why) did you join the Virti team?
I was one of the very first people to join the Virti team, initially on an informal basis, right before a small group of us went to Boost VC in Silicon Valley. Who would turn down a free trip to San Francisco?!
During our time together in the US, I began to see what a great opportunity working for Virti would be. I really enjoy being a core member of small teams, so I decided to join as a permanent team member. It’s been very interesting to help influence a company from such an early stage.
Can you describe your role at Virti?
I’m mainly focused on the student-facing technology, and on developing and managing the related products. This includes the mobile app and the XR products we offer. I sometimes step in as CTO if Nils (our actual CTO) is away on holiday!
What skills did you bring to the team, and what skills have you developed since joining?
I have an extensive knowledge of games engines and XR development, and probably the most extensive history of developing for VR within the tech team. I’m also very familiar with working on products, either by myself or in small teams.
My knowledge of wider technology has improved since I’ve been at Virti. This is probably the first organisation I’ve worked for where we have multi-tech teams working on very different areas of our technology - being able to develop and use some of that knowledge is very interesting.
I’ve also had opportunities to develop my skills by being Virti’s representative on the RLab programme in New York last year. Gaining more knowledge about the important pillars of running a tech business, as well as opportunities to pitch and present what we do, was hugely beneficial for my all-round development.
What excites you about being part of Virti?
The team of people we have here feels special, and we’re all working towards the same goals. I think working ‘for good’ is also a key driver for me. The feeling that the product I work on could directly or indirectly save lives adds a real sense that I’m making a lasting impact. I also like the unique technical challenges of working in such an innovative company.
What’s your proudest achievement (so far) as part of the Virti team?
I’m always proud when our tech works as expected. We quite rarely get support tickets, which goes to show how much work we put in ensuring our product is robust as well as innovative.
It’s always possible to improve, but I’m pleased that our customers have been able to use our new technology without difficulty.
I very much enjoy working on complex technical challenges and fixing problems previously considered unsolvable.
How have you found working from home during lockdown?
Honestly, it’s been fine! I have an extensive history of working alone, as when I was developing Not Tonight I didn’t physically meet my boss until 8 months into the project.
It’s nice to be in the office and with such an excellent team, but I do find it a easier to manage my tasks efficiently when I’m alone.
How do you think that COVID-19 will affect the trajectory of the company?
It’s been pretty interesting to witness recent developments. We’ve seen the demand for virtual learning increase as organisations work out how to avoid in person training, and I expect that to continue whilst COVID-19 is a problem. I expect that demand to sustain beyond the pandemic, as learners will see the benefits of being able to train virtually.
Looking ahead, what do you think the rest of 2020 holds for Virti?
We’re not too far from the end of an excellent year for Virti’s growth. Now we must continue to work hard to support our clients to get the most out of our technology. I’m hoping we’ll be able to on-board more new customers and begin to plan how to expand our personnel before 2021.
How do you unwind on the weekends?
Usually my weekends can be pretty varied, but I will always fit a bit of video gaming. One of my favorites at the moment is “Tetris Effect” in VR.
I sometimes participate in “Maraoke”, a karaoke platform which runs online sessions on Twitch, and I’ll watch pretty much any sport that’s on TV. I also have my own game development projects which, if I’m in the mood, I’ll take a look at!
Thanks for answering our questions Lukas!