Two-three years ago, Adrian Oliveiro and Warren Woon provided tech services to physical events in the lifestyle and entertainment space. As the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, the duo wanted to future-proof their products either by offering VR/AR technology at physical events or completely pivoting to creating a virtual experiential platform.
“We chose the second option and drafted an initial roadmap towards the end of 2019,” Woon said. “When the pandemic started affecting the physical events industry, we immediately fast-forwarded our roadmap.”
This was the beginning of Xctuality, a startup that aims to bring the experiential platform of tomorrow today.
Rolled out in 2020, Singapore-based Xctuality offers 360° and immersive solutions in collaboration with the local arts, cultural and hospitality community. In other words, the startup aims to immerse audiences into an augmented theatrical experience by viscerally engaging them.
“We are a virtual experiential tech platform that bridges brands, creators and consumers to provide a more engaging virtual experience. We are further developing the ecosystem to include other virtual/augmented/extended reality (VR/AR/XR) functionalities and critical interactive elements to help brands and creators accelerate into the metaverse,” Woon told e27.
A new social network in the making
The company primarily offers Xctuality Interactive (an innovative 360° immersive and interactive environment) and Xctualyfe (a social network that bridges brands, creators and customers).
“Xctuality Interactive, started as an end-to-end streaming service, enables our B2B clients to monetise via selling tickets locked via a unique link to a stream, where viewers can purchase goods/services via basic e-commerce functionalities,” Woon said, sharing details. The firm later enhanced the product by launching a Future Stage POC, an interactive 360° digital theatre experience.
It is now in the final stages of launching a SaaS toolkit that will enable the clients to create an interactive 360° experience on their own using specific templates or user-generated content.
“Xcutalyfe, meanwhile, is our gateway to the metaverse and the next evolution in social networking. Here, the focus will be two-fold — B2B and B2C. The B2B model will focus on creating metaverse as a service to help accelerate brands and creators into the metaverse. It is essentially the ‘Shopify for the metaverse’,” Woon spelt out.
“On the B2C front, we will put in place the various virtual worlds, which we will build and develop alongside our experience partners. Consumers will be taken on a gamified journey, starting with Parkour (an athletic activity), leading to the organic discovery of brands, creators and businesses. Complementing games will host shows, performances, virtual experiences, e-commerce, etc. We’re partnering with a prominent regional game developer to further our game content,” Woon elaborated.
According to Woon, who is also the company’s CEO, Xctuality Interactive has already bagged several clients in the lifestyle, entertainment and performing arts segments. The names include Singapore Tourism Board, National Arts Council, People’s Association, Raffles Hotel, National Heritage Board, Far East Hospitality, Roche Diagnostic, 1Play Sports, Asian Geographic, Unique Event and Exhibition, and Double Confirm Productions.
For Xctualyfe, the company is in the middle of signing commercial agreements and MOUs with several direct B2C sales/B2B organisations and gaming platforms.
As for monetisation, Xctuality began to monetise primarily with a project-based costing model and taking a percentage in every transaction within its virtual environment. It is now moving towards a SaaS-based subscription model and a per cent share in every transaction. However, it will continue to utilise a project-based costing model for large-scale enterprise projects.
Accelerating SMEs into the metaverse
Woon stated that his company wanted to help SMEs accelerate into the metaverse, especially those with no capabilities or resources. As such, the startup will be offering free one-year design and build of a virtual world for a limited number of businesses.
For others, Xctuality will provide easily adoptable 3D modelling solutions to help them monetise within the metaverse, which can then be converted into NFTs.
“We will have other tools that will enable them to create their branded virtual worlds in the metaverse. The opportunities are immense because it’s not just about helping brands, creators and businesses but also about creating an infrastructure to power an entire virtual economy. It will be worth trillions of dollars in the future,” he said. “Just like how businesses converted from having a yellow page listing to having a website, the entire global market is a greenfield for Xctuality.”
He also mentioned that Xctuality intends to scale very quickly overseas. It plans to go beyond Singapore and in the region starting in 2022. “The US and Europe are within our sights from the various strategic relationships we’ve cultivated.”
‘Had to do a lot of convincing’
For Oliveiro (CTO) and Woon, the entrepreneurial journey was not easy. As a tech startup that pivoted from the physical events space, the pair had struggled to convince its financiers, investors, and prospective clients/hires.
“Our product and business roadmap was unproven as the market was relatively young, and most believed that pivoting to virtual was a temporary measure as pandemic would ease and life would be back to normal. Indeed, we had to showcase the long-term possibilities and viability of our proof of concepts and products,” Woon described.
“Because of the unknowns, most financiers and investors were unwilling to fund our project. And as a result, resources were limited to hiring the talents we wanted.”
After months of discussions, Xctuality managed to get the backing of several VCs, including Brain-Too-Free Ventures, which led its US$300,000 seed round. It then completed a US$260,000 bridge round in 2020 from an existing shareholder.
The startup is now completing a pre-Series A of SGD 1 million to 1.5 million (US$740,000-US$1.12 million) from existing shareholders and new investors consisting of VCs and angels. It also plans to do an initial dex offering (IDO) shortly and a Series A in the coming months.
Many critics say metaverse and broadly Web3 is a fad and marketing gimmick? What is your view?
“Well, Web3 terminology isn’t doing anyone any favours, neither are the naysayers unwilling to see Web3 for what it really can be. Whether for or against it, the reality is that technology such as decentralisation, blockchain or even machine learning/AI, interactive gameplay and massive social networks are already within our midst. We don’t see Web3 taking over the technological landscape as much as supplementing current capabilities and enabling different ways to solve some existential problems. There will always be resistance against change, but there will be those of us who have been dreaming of what we can achieve, see the opportunities, and are brave enough to go for it. Just look at how fast the blockchain, crypto and NFT segments have been moving in the past two to three years,” he concluded.
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Image Credit: Xctuality
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