Come meet companies from China, Korea, Japan and other Asian countries at our VR/AR Global Summit Nov 1-2!
How does a Kenyan born Canadian end up as CEO of a 30 person VR start up in Hangzhou China?
Short answer, craigslist.
12 years ago, 18 year old Nikk Mitchell had just graduated high school in Calgary Canada and moved to the coast to attend the Art Institute of Vancouver (also in Canada). A lack of interest in structured learning fostered escape fantasies. Instead of doing his homework he fed his fantasies surfing craigslist world wide, dreaming of anywhere, doing anything but school. One day he stumbled across a job on craigslist’s China subforum, and applied on a whim. He was surprised to be accepted, maxed out his student loan in cash, dropped out of uni, and began his journey to the east.
5 years later Nikk was still in China when the Oculus DK1 was released and his life changed drastically. His student loan was long repaid and structured education a faint memory, so why did he choose to pursue his VR dreams in China?
Historically China has been a world leader many times in culture and science. 20th century China was not. While the reasons for China’s painful 1900s are debatable, their recent steps to return to former glory is fact. Brands like DJI in new industries prove that China is past imitation and back to innovation. Now China is in transition, between a recent poor past and fortune’s future. During the internet bubble China was mostly offline, but now, only decades later China has over 800 million internet users, 98% of them on mobile. Other examples like mobile payment and shared bikes/umbrellas/cars/battery packs also show that while China was recently behind the west, they are leapfrogging ahead. VR is going to take time to reach mass market anywhere, but Nikk believes that it will happen quicker in China than in the West.
Another reason that influences VR in China is government support. For example last year one city alone (Nanchang) invested hundreds of millions of dollars in VR including a huge VR theme park and a 148 million dollar fund. These investments trickle down in real tangible ways. Nikk’s current VR company FXG now has 400 square meters, which are massively subsidised by the Chinese government. Including power, internet, cleaning staff and more, the total cost is 2000 USD per month. The On top of this FXG has been contracted by China State Grid, The Beijing Department of Water, and the local government to create VR content for them. Premier Li Keqiang, the second in command to Xi Jinping even visited FXG’s office this summer.
To quote Nikk directly. “I see VR being big in China sooner than in the west. With the serious government support my company has received, I am sure we will not only survive till then, but will continue to find success in the meantime.”
More at fxg.space
Nikk Mitchell IVRPA 2018's talk on VR in China
Nikk Mitchell on VR talk show The Hive
Nikk Mitchell doing a dev workshop on Leap Motion (in Chinese)
Nikk Mitchell riding a giant roomba wearing a VR headset