Digital ChatterPodcasts

Digital Chatter Episode #003

By November 6, 2018 June 28th, 2019 No Comments

Digital  Chatter Episode #003: Alan Smithson

Eric: Hello and welcome everyone to the Digital Chatter Series. Today my guest is Alan Smithson. Go ahead and say hi.

Alan: Hey what’s going on everybody.

Eric: So Alan, if you couldn’t tell already, he’s a futurist, he’s an entrepreneur and he’s a proud father. Alan is a DJ and an inventor. And we’re going to hear a little bit about what he has accomplished today and what he is going to be doing this year. So Alan tell everyone a little bit about yourself.

Alan: Certainly! So thank you very much, first of all, for having me on. I’m going to take this off for now for the show. This is a really cool stage prop – it is functional and I’ll explain it later. But thank you so much for having me. A little bit about myself – I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was 18. I won’t say how old I am but it’s been a while.

Alan: I started off making mix tapes in my basement when I was a kid recording the radio and making mix tapes for my friends at school and I would spend hours making these mix tapes and then I’d replicate them and I’d sell them for ten bucks at school. And so I never even thought of that as a business it was just something that you know I did and then I ended up in University working for a guy.

Alan: I was a bouncer and the night club and it was really cool because the DJ didn’t show up one night and he said does anybody know how to use that stuff, and I was like yes yes! And I ended up doing a really good job and you know I went from being a bouncer to the DJ which is, trust me, a much much better job. And from there I had my own DJ business. And that kind of took off and I did that. I graduated university back a while ago. And I graduated with a degree in molecular biology which my mom wanted me to go to med school and it really wasn’t for me but I ended up becoming a pharmaceutical rep which is really cool and you know I would recommend that job to anybody because it’s really pretty bad ass job. You get to drive around and they give you a car and a computer and a credit card and say, go!

Alan: So I did that job for a few years and I was really good at it. And then I realized that there has to be more to this. You know there has to be more. I just wasn’t fulfilled. I hit my targets by June in my third year. My targets for the year and they wouldn’t reset them and I was like OK what’s the point. You know what’s the point of doing this. And so I started my first real company and that was the Canadian prepaid medical plan. And from there I learned about business about automating things and stuff like that and that business wasn’t the most successful business. I didn’t really know what it was doing and while it made money it was making me miserable so I ended up going, I realized one day – I was in a doctor’s office and I was pitching these guys and it was like the third time I’d been there and I got a phone call while they were kind of deliberating and I took a phone call and it was a woman she wanted me to DJ her daughter’s wedding or something and I was like OK I know it’s going to be $3000 dollars.

Alan: They booked me on the spot. And I thought oh my God I’m only going to make probably less than three thousand dollars these two doctors, I’ve been here three times, they’re hemming and hawing about everything, and I just made a three thousand dollar sale in five minutes on the phone. What am I doing? And I’m going to have fun

Eric: You had that aha moment.

Alan: Yeah it was just like why am I doing this. So I literally you know wrapped that company up and I went full time with my DJ business and that DJ business took off. You know obviously I was passionate about it. I joined all the different associations and all that stuff and blew that up. And in 2010 I started a number of different businesses in between there I owned a hostel at Blue Mountain, a ski resort. I’m here in Toronto and so just north of us there’s a ski resort two hours north, and started a hostel there because I went mountain biking, and there was no hostel. We bought a building and started a hostel. We got shut down for zoning because we didn’t really know what we were doing. The recurring theme in my life, you know, why didn’t somebody tell me that!

Eric: Regulations, regulations.

Alan: I went to the mayor’s office, they were like yeah it’s a great idea go for it! I’m like, OK great! They didn’t tell me that yeah you might need some approval. Anyway I started a nutraceutical business after reading Tim Ferriss’ Four Hour Work Week… screw you Tim Ferriss!

Eric: I read it too, it’s a great book.

Alan: It’s a great book and I took it literally and I did it and I was like okay this sucks. I hate this business as well. So I got out of that and I did a bunch of little things in between and then in 2010 I saw this giant see-through touch screen on a YouTube video and I was like what the hell is that. Nobody knew what it was I went to Guitar Center in the States. I went to a Long McCreight in Canada, I flew everywhere, Thomann in Germany. Nobody knew what this thing was.

Alan: I finally found the guy who created the software and realized that the hardware was nonexistent so I made a partnership with him said hey listen, we’ll put this together, I’ll fund everything, you just you know take care of the software side, I’ll take care of the hardware and we’ll make a company. And we called it SmithsonMartin. So we created that and brought it to the world. That was really successfully. In September we formed the partnership and by October we showed it off at a Ted Talk. So that was the first time we ever showed it in public was at a Ted Talk.

Eric: That’s huge. That must have been a scary and yet exciting moment for you guys when you…

Alan: It didn’t work the week before so yeah I was terrified

Eric: Oh my gosh!

Alan: It literally didn’t work.

Eric: So tell me more about what you what you really invented. Because you know I’m familiar with the DJ world but yeah.

Alan: So ultimately what we invented is a giant… Imagine a 42 inch like a huge piece of glass that is see through so the audience can see what the DJ is doing. And so we created this thing. So we had a projector showing up on the bottom and then it was all touchscreen and imagine we created a giant see through touch screen before the iPad was released or just as the iPad was being released. Now we know seven was just out. But it wasn’t even out it was like it was just kind of being rolled out and Windows 7, they didn’t even have touchscreens.

Alan: So you know we have this software that you could only use on our screens which you know I got into being a software company not a hardware company but ultimately we ended up being both because we just couldn’t we couldn’t sell the software when there was no hardware. There was nothing. So the only touchscreen available was the iPad. And then eventually you know Microsoft came out with the touchscreen laptops and you know everything’s touch. But this was you know six years ago, five and a half years ago, something like that.

Eric: Wow. That’s incredible. I mean you truly helped push that technology and it seems to be kind of a re-occurring thing in your life. I mean you find something that just has to get done and then you push forward in it. Yes that brings me to know why do you do what you do. I mean why do this?

Alan: I mean think I’m a little crazy, I’m not going to lie. You know pushing the limits of technology… So in doing that the Emulator I was invited to Summit I was invited to all these different tech conferences I DJ’d for Twitter, I DJ’d for Facebook, Google, Microsoft Partners Conference. I got to bring I actually instead of making the touch screen for the DJ’s I flipped it around to see if we could make it for the audience. So we flipped it around and made a thing called room experience where people could actually make their own remixes using an interface that we combined in the background and we made it all branded for Heineken and we put it at the Heineken House at Coachella. So that was my first kind of experience with a big festival like that where we were part of you know a bigger thing. We’ve been at EDC, and you know always backstage but never forward facing.

Alan: So that was kind of my aha moment that oh my God. Brands are where it’s at and why are we trying to sell this thing to DJ’s when I can sell it to brands and they have infinitely more money than DJ’s. And you know so I started making all kind of things for brands and I got invited to this thing called Curiosity Camp and Curiosity Camp is a camp for tech entrepreneurs inventors put on by Eric Schmidt from Google. Basically invite all these people. About 200 people, invite them to go to the forests in the mountains of California. There’s no cell phone service no Wi-Fi you get there your phone doesn’t work. And they give you like the sash and they give you a tin cup and a notepad and then they fill your cup with champagne and it gets crazy from there.

Alan: So I got to meet all these crazy crazy people and you know funny story. I met a guy. I met a guy and I said hey you know what do you do, and he says I work for Microsoft on the Bing Project. And I was like oh Bing like the search engine? And he said yeah, and I said people still use that, is that a thing? And he looks at me straight in the face and says, I invented Bing.

Eric: Oh my God man oh my God!

Alan: Yeah. So Stephen sorry about that man. We became friends after that but it was crazy.

Alan: So I’m at this camp and it’s funny because there’s no Wifi or no cell service but there’s electronics. You know the guy had one of the first drones I’ve ever seen. I got to fly it. There was some other like 3-D projection mapping tech. And in this tent at night I was sitting there with Robert Scoble, he’s a preeminent tech blogger if you don’t know who Roberts is. So he was showing me video of him at Coachella with Skrillex and I’m like oh that’s really cool and then we got to try virtual reality and this guy puts his headset on my head and I was literally transported into a back concert and I was up in the crowd looking down and I was like wow this is amazing what a great view and the guy goes no turn around.

Alan: So I did one of these, oh my God it’s everywhere! And that was my first moment where I was like what is this magic. And then he hit a button and I was on stage standing next to Beck looking out of the crowd. And I just had this moment like oh my god this changes everything. And my immediate thought was I guess I’ve been on stage my whole life DJ’ing for massive crowds festivals all of it. What how many people actually get to stand there and look out on the crowd. It’s a view very very few people get to do. Very few people. What if we put a camera next to the DJ or a camera like over the crowd or you know multiple cameras so you can you know you could see a festival from multiple angles.

Alan: So that was like that was embedded in my head. And so I said to myself I really really want to do that and I kind of started looking into virtual reality and figuring that out. By the way the guy who put that on my head, he’s also a pioneer in virtual reality his name is Chris Milk. And Chris is one of the you know if you Google him he’s literally one of the pioneers of virtual reality. One of the first things in VR that he ever did was obviously the Beck concert but he also did U2’s 360 video. So you know this guy is no joke. He has got a company called With.In. So look it up. But Chris was the guy who got me inspired about this and Rob, both Robert and I – Robert is now, he wrote a book called The Fourth Transformation about virtual and augmented reality and how it’s going to affect everything. And now he’s fully into VR and AR and so am I. And so that one transformative moment changed our lives for the better.

Eric: Yeah and it brought you exactly where you are today. Well we’ll get into a little bit more about what you’re currently into but I’m curious as to what I mean you just leap I mean you leap sometimes without looking because even yourself right.

Eric: You know it’s a blessing and a curse. Because a lot of entrepreneurs are out there right now and they’re thinking you know “I don’t know like I have these feelings” you know they they have this next step in our head and they know it’s the right thing to do. But there’s all these things like money or time or you know you need partners you can’t just do it on your own sometimes. Could you talk a little bit about that and how you found success in moving things?

Alan: So why don’t I tell you about a failure first. I think it’s more important because I think you know it’s important for people to know the consequences of making these big actions because you could actually say that probably the most unlucky entrepreneur in the world. So all these things I’ve started either crashed or didn’t take off or you know like the hostel didn’t take off. We had to close it. You know I’ve been successful on some things and not others but I’ve always just done it you know head down let’s go and one of the things that really kind of set me back. About a year and a half ago, two years ago, two and a half years ago, I brought an investor and I’d raised a million dollars in one pitch and went through due diligence. We had about six months runway and I said you know we got six months runway we got sales coming in it’s time to raise some money so we raised a million dollars on paper.

Alan: Went to go close it and the company didn’t have the money. So we wasted three months due diligence, they didn’t have the money. Did a bunch more pitches. Got another investment of a million dollars. The company literally disappeared. They just disappeared. I don’t know what happened to them. Never heard from them since. So here I am now I’ve run out of my runway, desperate. I’m running out of money burning cash trying to keep the product going keep you know keep the clients happy. And rather than scale back dramatically which we should have done because cash flow really it’s if I can give you one lesson in entrepreneurship, cash flow is everything.

Alan: If you can’t manage your cash flow you’re gonna lose. And so I ended up taking on an investor who everybody warned me not to get in bed with. Everybody. My lawyer at the time who was a partner in the company, he quit and he said if you take this guy on as an investor I’m out. And my CFO at the time did the same thing he said you guys you bring this shady cat on, I’m out. So I’m left by myself to deal with this this guy. And he ended up taking full advantage of the situation. Ended up for whatever reason I still can’t figure this out, burned the company down. He basically did everything I told him not to do. I said here’s the plan here’s what we’re going to do we’re going to build it in Toronto, build the first 10.

Alan: No no no no I’m going to build it in my brother’s factory. He just totally destroyed every ounce of value in the company and burnt the company to the ground and blamed me, fired Julie my wife, first of all put her on sales. She’s not a sales person she’s operations. Put her on sales put me on building these things because yeah I know how to build things. Anyway, and then we ran out of money again and he kicked me out of the company and basically forced the board to vote against me kick me out of my own company. And now has since illegally transferred the IP to a new company so that’s a whole other story and then the lawsuit will go. But in the process of doing that I had signed loans for the company under my own personal. He refused to pay them.

Alan: And I ended up losing my house. So I ended up losing everything literally everything. I remember the day I was sitting at home and there was a knock at the door and this guy is like “Hey man I’ve come to repossess your car”. And I’m like fuck it here’s the keys. I took my stuff out of the car and the guy was really nice about it and he’s like you’re really chill about this and I’m like I’ve made peace with it, I don’t care. So I lost the car lost the house we had to move in with her parents.

Alan: All that to say that there are not, it is not without risk taking these leaps of faith and so one of the things that I did in the course of this is I taught my daughter how to be an entrepreneur. And she invented sandals that leave a heart shaped tan line on top of your feet called the Love Sandal, I’ll grab one and show you it now.

Alan: These are my daughter’s sandals, so they leave a little heart shaped tan line. So yeah my daughter designed these and she designed everything from the bottom to the top to everything. There’s even a pad in here because she didn’t like how the Birkenstocks hurt her feet. So I helped her with that. And in the process of doing that I actually realized that you know she had an open house or like a tent set up to sell her shoes. And so we invited a bunch of her friends to sell shoes and they came down, they were like “Hey you want to buy some shoes hey you want to buy some shoes”. No it was terrible they were the worst sales people on earth. And so I pulled them aside to say hey guys these are for kids like 8 9 10 years old I said “here’s what you gotta do: you’ve got to take these shoes, you’ve got to explain to them that your friend over there has designed these shoes.

Alan: They leave a little heart shaped tan line, they are super comfortable. Which style do you like? And people will tell you which style they like and then once they tell you what style they like, we’re like, what color do you like, what’s your size. And then once they tell you that you put the shoe on the ground let them try them on and then once they have it on you get them to try both shoes and then ask them if they want to buy them”. They sold three thousand dollars worth of shoes in like four hours. It was mindblowing. And I was like holy shit if I can teach kids how to do that in 20 minutes we can teach every kid the basic skills of of sales, marketing, business planning, strategy, design, all of that. And you know and then I kind of, you know, I wrote it all down and we kept the curriculum of everything we taught Abby from day one.

Alan: Everything from how to form, you know, how to log your own website or get your own web address. How to do a business plan, marketing plan, strategy, all that and we documented everything we did because we figured we want to teach our other daughter Holly. And we realized that holy crap this is something that’s never been done, nobody’s ever taught kids how to do this. And so we are now going to build an education platform to teach kids how to be entrepreneurs and not just from the business, investing, marketing side, but also from the daily habits that really drive people to be successful. Meditation, mentorship, surrounding yourself with great people, positivity, deep breathing, yoga, these types of things that if done on a daily basis can really set people up for success.

Alan: And it’s things that for whatever reason, all the things I’ve just mentioned, are not taught in school. They’re like the foundation of success and all the books, you know if you look at, all my books are sitting over there and every single book I’ve read explains these things and how to use them. And we don’t teach it in school.

Eric: Exactly. It’s baffling, really, it’s baffling. And I do think that some schools are getting it now. You know the STEM education. Yes, some people are little by little picking up on this.

Alan: I saw one the other day there was a school where instead of putting kids in detention the kids that are in detention have to do yoga and deep breathing and meditation and they have had no suspensions since the start of the program. Whoa, mindblowing! Imagine just getting kids to sit in a room do nothing versus mindfulness and you know really kind of meditating and breathing and doing some yoga. Wow. Holy crap imagine that would work. Yeah.

Eric: Imagine that. And that we could definitely use that in the United States that’s for sure.

Alan: Well the program we’re building is called the Unlimited Awesome Academy and it will be a global program and will be App based so it’s when they sign in their phone, the unlock button for the program so when they unlock it each day each time during the day they punch in they have to enter in what they’re grateful for. So it’s like a built in gratitude journal. And that’s how you unlock it. And so it teaches them and that’s why I really wanted to get into VR because I figured with VR you have you know a headset and you have your phone. Imagine we could deliver you know super super high-end education by combining the two and giving kids the education not only from their you know the world leaders like you know let’s say for example you go to you go to school and they’re learning from a teacher who’s teaching math and science and art, history.

Alan: Will that teach I can guarantee is not the best at art, science, math and history. it’s impossible. But what if we could give them lessons from the best people in the world. You know what if you had Richard Branson giving you lessons on entrepreneurship and you had you know Stephen Hawking teaching about astrophysics. Now it feels like you’re right there and so you know I have this vision of using you know an app based program with the phone with a virtual reality to deliver education that’s never ever been done before and really do so in a gamified way that engages kids to really move forward with that and that’s why I got into virtual reality and that’s what drives me every day to get up. I really really want – my purpose in life is to inspire and educate the next generation of young entrepreneurs to go on and create a trillion dollars in value in an economically socially and environmentally sustainable way. So that’s why I do this.

Eric: That’s awesome. Thank you for sharing that. Yeah that definitely goes along the lines of what I’m interested in. I mean my passion is to teach children technology because I believe that all kids are born gifted. It’s our job you know everyone listening to this right now. It’s our job as adults to mentor these children or anyone younger, older, it doesn’t matter but it’s our job to mentor each other and to help build each other up.

Alan: Absolutely it’s really really important that we, you know, technology’s not going away. And I had this discussion and I don’t want to be Mr. Doom and Gloom here but a huge percentage of jobs that you know the government is trying to bring back those jobs are gone and they’re never coming back. What’s worse is jobs beyond that are going to be gone very soon. So for example, I had this discussion with my mom the other night and I was telling her how artificial intelligence is going to eliminate low level legal jobs and low level accounting jobs because do I really need somebody to go through my taxes when I can have an artificial intelligence program do it a thousand times better. No. So literally I’m not even joking. Fifteen minutes after my mom left my house I was going through LinkedIn and I saw an article IBM just partnered with H.R. Block. For their Watson.

Eric: That’s right. And I’ve seen the ad that says Watson right next to H.R. Block.

Alan: And so you don’t think that the 70,000 employees that H.R. Block has are on the chopping block so to speak. Just once once the AI algorithm figures out how to do this much more efficiently. Now the way I describe it to people is… Look let’s say you’re an accountant and you want to you know study some case files for a client. How many case files can you… maybe 4, 5, 10, 100 maybe in one day, that you can read. Watson can do five million case files in one day. Five million it can review. It’s impossible to keep- to compete with that. And so you know what about autonomous cars. So what happens when U.P.S. replaces their entire fleet with autonomous vehicles.

Eric: I’ve been saying that for years the trucking industry will get absolutely destroyed.

Alan: One of the companies that I’m working with is actually, I can’t say too much, but I’ve been brought in as an advisor and shareholder of a new company and startup that’s going to just decimate the freight forwarding business now because it’s ripe for disruption. There’s literally they are using half a tree to ship a box it’s crazy! You know forms and paperwork and all this and it’s crazy that nobody’s done that. And so this company came to me and said hey we’re doing this. Can you advise? Yes absolutely. So that’s going to be another thing you know. So I think we as a society we need to really figure out what are we going to do with all these people once jobs.. So I think the human evolution we’ve reached a point where we’re about to reach a point where working is not necessary.

Alan: We don’t need to have jobs. We need to have leisure. We need to have art. We need to have creation. You need to have fun. And so what do we do with millions of people that are not working and so we have to come up with you know monthly minimum revenue for them and you know maybe that’s $30,000 if you stay at home you know you get 30 grand a year and you just that’s your that’s what you get. And if you want to work if you want to learn coding and you want to learn whatever jobs require then you can you get skills and you could earn more than that we should. Our welfare system is crazy. We’re going to give you X amount but if you work we’re going to take that amount away.

Alan: We’re going to de-incentivize you for working. We need to think about that and kind of really understand how, what are we going to do with people, once there are no jobs or when there’s a vast reduction in the amount of jobs.

Eric: Tell me a little bit more about what you’ve been up to recently with your Metavrse. So how did you get into all of that?

Alan: Yeah. Again I saw virtual reality a few years ago and was like “I’m in”. And then I sat and looked at the whole landscape and really really studied the landscape of virtual reality and was like OK there’s there’s headsets coming out right so this is the Gear VR. It uses Samsung S7 or S6 phone. You snap it in and you’ve got virtual reality, right. So when I started in this none of this was even out there it was just the Oculus and I looked at the whole landscape and I said OK first of all there is going to be…

Alan: Every company is going to get into the hardware business they’re going to get into headsets so Samsung is going to get into the headset. Google is going to get into the headsets, HTC is going to get into the headsets, Oculus is going to get in to the headsets. So far Intel, Microsoft, Apple’s coming out with their’s. Everybody’s going to get into that space so I thought OK how do we… Whatever we do it needs to be neutral.

Alan: You know even Microsoft’s got their lens. Everything we need to do it needs to be neutral. OK then what are we to do. Do we go into software. Well the pace at which these things are developing software is becoming obsolete. Like a year ago 360 cameras were just coming on the market and we were just, we were using GoPro rigs and stuff like that. This camera came out. It’s Samsung’s gear 360 camera. It’s stitched on my phone. I can take a picture stitch it on my phone and it’s ready to go. So that is going to wipe out an entire tier of software there’s going to be you know successful ones. I looked at a whole ecosystem and like I don’t know where this is going. I wish I did. If I did I’d be you know a billionaire. Now what I didn’t know so I said well let’s make an agency that way we can do a little bit of everything and we can try different things.

Alan: And so I started Shock Creative in oh, a year and a half ago, September last year. And with a partner and we did a bunch of augmented reality things, we did a coloring book that came to life in augmented reality. We did an app for a mining company and ended up we just weren’t compatible as partners and I end up meeting my new partner Dan and we together we said we’re going to make Metavrse we’re going to make a virtual reality arcade but for corporate events. So you can come in and play or you know virtual reality have some drinks you know team building whatever. And then we looked at the price we costed it all out and we looked at how much money we needed to raise. And every investor that we end up with is like look we love the idea. It’s great. But what’s the barrier to entry from somebody else and how do you protect and how do you scale it. And those three questions everything we do now in our company has to be repeatable, scalable and have recurring revenue. That’s that’s our our fundamentals.

Alan: Yeah I think if you start a business you should always think you know how do we scale this, how do we repeat it, right. How do I do it more. And then how do I get recurring revenue out of it. And so we realized that that that business model wasn’t going to work. And so we focused on the agency but we started pitching every other agency we started pitching brands and it just was way way too early for virtual reality. And so we did events we said well you know while we’re waiting for this thing to take off we’ll do events we did events for the RAM for Royal Anterior Museum. We did events for Telis Mobility which is you know Telis, Bell, Rogers, Samsung, Korris, PWC and so we actively went after doing events for the clients we wanted to work with and we have an internal hash tag that we use is paid to pitch because we actually literally get paid to pitch.

Alan: So PWC flew us down to the partners conference. We did all these demos. Hollow Lens, Microsoft HTC Vive, we did all these different demos but really we were pitching virtual reality to these people and Metavrse as a provider of it. And so we’ve done, we’ve really focused on the events like tomorrow I’m speaking at a conference, a Marketing Conference for 1,000 people and Casey Neistat speaking at its as well as Gary Vaynerchuk, two people I know everybody loves.

Eric: Yeah those guys are two of my favorite guys right now who are pushing the limits.

Alan: Yeah yeah they really really are and so I’m speaking on a stage with those guys which is pretty exciting and we’re also building a tech hub so people can try the stuff and we’re bringing all the different technologies we’re bringing all the headsets. I’ve got a whole collection of headsets and we’re bringing the Hollow Lens and this thing here is badass it’s Microsoft’s Hollow Lens which is a augmented reality headset and basically what it does you put it on and I can see holograms floating in mid-air. And not only can you see them you can interact with them in multiplayer or multiple people can walk around. So one of the things that we’re going to be showing is how this can be used for data visualization and how it can be used for seeing data in the real world. It’s incredible you know watching things and not just like graphs but like seeing a city and seeing the Twitter feeds bounce around on a city it’s just like mind blowing.

Alan: So you know that’s where we’re going with this and we’ve really become the agency for virtual and augmented reality. And if you look at our shirt our logo for Metavrse in the middle is the a and the v because we knew it’s going to be augmented and virtual reality it’s not just not just one it’s going to be both. So that’s what we’re doing now and that’s what we do at Metavrse

Eric: That’s incredible. That’s incredible. Tell everyone how they can follow you.

Alan: Everything we have is @Metavrse, Facebook, Twitter, Linked, Instagram, all of it is @Metavrse. And I write an article once a week on virtual reality. So this week’s was it will be posted today. Virtual reality for retail last week was virtual reality for pharmaceuticals. The week before was my top 11 picks for marketing uses of virtual reality for 2016. So yeah follow us on that. Yeah it’s it’s really really an exciting field and I think 2016 was interesting because all the headsets came out. It really kind of got everybody’s attention. But 2017 is the year where businesses get involved and they go wow we can use this as a sales tool. We’re doing some stuff with some tourism boards with Niagra Falls Tourism actually which is really exciting. We did a video for them just before Christmas.

Alan: And they loved it and now we’re doing like a whole series of videos for them to show the attractions at Niagara Falls to show the natural features and just really bolster Niagara Falls as a tourist destination. So really excited about that. Oh we invented a 360 photo booth which is bad ass. Check this out. So in addition to getting, well 3D printing’s huge but in addition to getting a 3D printed myself. It’s kind of ridiculous. In addition to that guy we also figured out how to 3D print on a ball. A company called Scandi does this in a print 360 images on a sphere. So if you look at this picture here those people are actually not standing there. They were this photo was taken from our 360 photo booth and the background was photo shopped in. It’s the background of Niagara Falls.

Alan: And so we created this photo booth, it was the first in the world, where you put a 360 camera in the middle take a picture and then Photoshop people in space or on the moon or wherever. And so by doing that we’re also creating another printer that will that will make this much much higher resolution because the resolution is kind of it’s not great. So we’re making that so you can hang it on your Christmas tree.

Eric: That’s incredible. Yeah. And so you’re up for an award for this?

Alan: Two awards, actually, yes. The photo booth we actually partnered with Samsung to build it originally and Samsung will be rolling it out this year. And we also partnered with Corus Entertainment which is one of the biggest media companies in Canada. And they had a show from Sony called Timeless and it’s a show about going back in time and it’s an action show it’s a really really cool show. And one of the first scenes was they go back in time to stop the Hindenburg from exploding. And so we put people in the photo booth and made them do this and above them with the Hindenburg was exploding above them so they were like you know it was really cool. And then they could see themselves in the air and look up and it’s really cool. So that’s been nominated for two marketing awards so far. Hopefully some more.

Eric: Absolutely. Well Alan it’s been a pleasure chatting with you today. Do you want to leave anyone with anything else?

Alan: Sure. I think you know if you’re getting into entrepreneurship, if you want to start your own business, don’t quit your day job. Honestly like you know and everybody says go and do it full. But I would strongly recommend that if you have a job and you’re going to do this. Figure out how you can live without working for a year. If you if you have enough money to focus one year. Because even though it may only take three months to get up and running, maybe six. It always takes longer than you anticipate. Always.

Alan: And so you know I don’t want people to have to go and do what I did you know when I lost my house. I really don’t think that’s, that’s not something people have to do in entrepreneurship. It’s really not necessary. And I keep thinking in the back of my head especially when writing the course for Unlimited Awesome, I keep thinking why didn’t somebody tell me that when I was 10 or why didn’t somebody tell me that when I was 20 and it’s all those life lessons and you know one of the main ones is that yes you can build and do anything. But really when it comes down to it you need to think as big as possible because it takes just as much time and effort to build your small shoe store as it is to build a global brand. So you know think on that. And by the way Abby’s just been approved to sell her shoes at HBC which is one of the largest Hudson Bay Company one of the largest retailers in Canada which is pretty cool. So that’s that’s a big big step for a 12 year old.

Eric: I would say so.

Alan: That’s what I’ve got. I mean really really if you if you’re going to decide to do it aim way bigger than you think so whatever. You know and I read something. It’s Peter Thiel in a book called Zero to One and what he said is whatever your plans are in 10 years or your 10 year plan, what if you could do it in six months. And you know Tim Ferriss also reiterated in his book Tools of Titans and I thought man it’s really interesting like you know I’ve got a five year plan what if I can do in six months what would that look like. It’s like OK. So you know what do I have to do to do that. I have to raise 10 million dollars. And another thing. Never never personally sign for a loan in your company. No, I’m serious. No joke, don’t use your credit cards.

Alan: If you cannot get somebody else to fund it or pay for it and this is lesson I teach other entrepreneurs when I’m coaching them. Look it’s it’s almost more difficult to raise money from investors than it is to go and get clients. If you can’t get a client maybe you don’t have a good product but if you can get a client and you don’t need an investor: wining. Because investors and banks, they’re only there to make money they’re not there to help you. They’re not there to be your friend, they only want to make money and that’s OK that’s what they’re for. But at the end of the day never personally sign for anything. Try to sell instead of raise money which makes way more sense and always go big, go as big as possible.

Eric: That’s awesome. Alan thank you so much appreciate it.

Alan: My pleasure.

Eric: Good luck man we’ll see you on the news soon. 

Eric Sharpe

Eric Sharpe

Eric bridges the gap between the technical and creative worlds. His passion is teaching technology so that it can be understood by all ages. For article features and interviews, please reach out via social media.