Leif Petersen is a successful entrepreneur with 20+ years of experience in all facets of immersive media. As founder and CEO of HOLOGATE, Petersen had the vision to launch a company that would develop immersive media platforms and experiences to support businesses in both the entertainment and enterprise industries.
Today, HOLOGATE is the world’s largest location-based immersive entertainment network that currently connects more than 400 VR experiences of their proprietary systems in 36 countries, captivating more than 5 million players per year.
1. How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
Back in 1993, I got to experience VR for the first time on a ‘Virtuality’ gaming system and I was instantly hooked! From that moment on, I dreamt that someday I would invent my own virtual reality experience.
With this most recent wave of Virtual Reality and headset technology finally achieving a level of being dramatically convincing, we started to think about the idea of a Virtual Reality multiplayer platform. A system that would continue the heritage of the ‘Virtuality’ gaming system from the ’90s, but also utilize proprietary technology that would far exceed people’s assumptions of VR, be transformative, and could work in as many locations as possible. HOLOGATE was born.
2. What’s your company’s vision?
HOLOGATE utilizes immersive technologies to connect people and enable a new dimension of fun and learning, worldwide.
3. What is unique about your business?
HOLOGATE is the largest out-of-home Virtual Reality network that connects 400+ multiplayer systems in 36 countries. No other company in this space has reached this scale.
4. What is your biggest achievement so far?
Our biggest achievement is introducing virtual reality to millions of people around the world.
We will achieve the 10 Million player milestone across our network of systems within the next few months. Out of these millions of players, the majority of them are experiencing VR for the very first time and having such a memorable experience that they come back for repeat visits and eventually converting into VR enthusiasts. In addition, through our open system design and live gameplay in the televisions, millions of spectators are also being introduced to VR and will eventually take the VR plunge.
5. How do you see your company in 10 years?
HOLOGATE will continue to innovate and grow within the entertainment and enterprise verticals. With new products that are already in development, we will continue to move the needle and define how immersive technologies will define entertainment and enterprise use in the future. I’m confident that HOLOGATE will continue to be a leading company in this space.
6. What are you like as an employer?
We are an equal opportunities employer that has grown quickly from a small start-up in a basement, into a company made up of a diverse team of about 50.
From the very beginning, the executives and I consciously built this wonderful team of technical masterminds, extremely creative artists, administrative gurus, incredible sales heroes, and strategic operations commanders with self-starters who can not only take ownership of their specialized domains but who can also work harmoniously within the whole.
This requires that we have great trust with those we hire that they will embody the philosophy, spirit, and culture that has allowed us to grow and excel in all possible disciplines between our incredible headquarters in Munich and branch in Los Angeles.
7. What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the XR industry? How do you deal with them?
Technology is continually moving, changing, and will continue to accelerate over the next few years. This creates the perpetual challenge to stay abreast of the latest technologies and the competition, and continue to create solutions that won’t be obsolete in short timeframes.
The team and I are always keeping an eye out for the latest in the XR space and are regularly communicating or sharing resources with each other.
8. How do you handle adversity and doubt?
As an entrepreneur, you have to maintain a work-life balance that allows for downtime and mental hygiene. This helps to afford you the energy to maintain resilience or bandwidth to trust your own judgement or know when it’s necessary to share with close friends and family.
9. If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out in VR/AR, what would it be?
Don’t try and specifically learn XR. Learn the basic building blocks of what you think you want to do, be it design, programming, organizational skills etc, and that will give you the foundation for not just XR, but for many converging and future mediums.
10. Which habit do you wish you could break?
Staying up too late and going to bed earlier.
11. What does creativity mean to you?
Being open to new ideas inspires you to have the courage and drive to research, experiment and build innovative designs.
12. Which book has inspired you the most?
Hard to choose just one as I read a lot. Here are a few books that I’ve recently read and liked… “What you do is who you are”, “Thinking in Bets”, “The infinite game”, “Good to Great”, “The subtle art of not giving a f*ck”.
13. What do you do when you’re not at work?
Spend time with my family and kids, cycle, snowboard and BBQ.
14. Who do you see as an inspiration in the industry? (Please name up to 3 people from the XR industry)
Jonathan Waldern for creating Virtuality
Brent Bushnell for creating Two Bit Circus
Ken Bretschneider for creating The Void