Jakub Kreft is the CEO of Unicorn VR World. The startup based in Warsaw, Poland produces innovative therapy for children using Virtual Reality technologies.
They create a virtual, safe space – a world in which the child has an impact on the amount and level of stimuli that appear.
1. How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
As a family-founded startup, everything started during dinner. My parents started a school for kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and later, my mother was a headmistress there. At that time, I was an AR/VR developer in the Unity3D game engine, who wanted to create something meaningful. So we thought to ourselves, why not to combine our family skills to create something for others. Then, we did in-depth research and decided to go with our idea.
2. What’s your company’s vision?
In Unicorn VR World, we want to use new technologies to help prevent autism. We decided to tackle the problem of sensory overload among kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). For those kids, sounds, lights, movements and colours can be so distracting that this can cause panic attacks or aggressive attitudes which makes learning difficult, if not impossible. We decided to use VR technology to create a safe space, free from distractions, where kids feel safe and can develop their personal and social skills. Of course, kids are not alone when immersed in VR, they meet their Unicorn friend named Niki, who will guide them through different therapeutic tasks.
3. What is unique about your business?
We do not force kids to take up tasks they do not want to. We want to stimulate kids for their personal development. Since we believe our product should place kids at its core, we want to engage them into the virtual world and into therapy, which is far from traditional therapy and leans more towards an educational game.
4. What is your biggest achievement so far?
We are still developing our prototype, creating more therapeutic sessions.
5. How do you see your company in 10 years?
As the next step, we want to create therapy not only for ASD kids but for every kid to be able to predict ASD symptoms at a very early stage. We want to achieve that by using data from EEG and biofeedback, collected during our virtual sessions and analysed using the latest data science algorithms.
6. What are you like as an employer?
For now, we are still bootstrapping. Most of our team members are family so sometimes, it is hard to be the CEO of your own father, yet we got on well with that so far. We do not want to force our coworkers to be at the office or to work specific hours, as long as tasks and KPIs are delivered on time.
7. What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the XR industry? How do you deal with them?
In my opinion, it is time to make XR devices more accessible to everyone, with content that is not only entertaining but content that can be useful for people’s daily problems. First of all, we believe that the price of powerful all-in-one headsets is going to decrease, making VR more accessible for the mass public, with no need for a powerful PC. Secondly, we need solutions that can change people’s everyday life, something that is not a gimmick but can significantly improve daily tasks such as AR navigation, VRmeditation apps or some kind of XR therapy solutions.
8. How do you handle adversity and doubt?
We try to focus on our main goals. We know what we want to achieve and how we want to achieve it. But of course, we sometimes face some doubts and problems. During this time, I like to talk those problems out, firstly with my friends and secondly, if there is no solution yet, with mentors and experts from the market.
9. If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out in VR/AR, what would it be?
If you start a VR/AR business, my advice would be to do proper research and if possible analyse market potential. And if you want to start creating VR/AR experiences, I would suggest trying out Unity3D and a bunch of tutorials and courses online.
10. What is one habit you wish you could break?
Waking up late. I am a night type of guy which means I wake up late and work till late hours. Because of that, there are many situations when I am in the middle of work and my friends want to hang out, making it difficult for me to bring it together.
11. What does creativity mean to you?
Creating ideas so clear and simple that others can think “I could have thought about it earlier!”.
12. What book has inspired you the most?
“Surely You’re Joking, Mr Feynman!” with the brilliant personality of Mr Richard Feynman. That book has shown me not only to work hard on my ideas but also to have fun and be open to opportunities.
13. What do you do when you’re not at work?
Hmmm what does it mean ‘not at work’? Your question is quite on point, because most of the time I am trying to enjoy my free time and not think about tasks and KPIs. I like to spend time developing myself both through physical exercise and intellectually, through learning how to play piano and visiting museums.
14. Who do you see as an inspiration in the industry?
It is hard to choose one person… I would say that I appreciate the work of many small XR developers using that technology for other purposes than entertaining masses.