Wilfrid Watson and Danum Harris-Lusk did not start their careers the conventional way. Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast 2014 gave them an opportunity of a lifetime and enabled them to launch a new company and attract investment funding within 12 months of commencement.
Together Wilfrid and Danum were the winners of last year’s event with their VRSmartView prototype for a virtual reality headset, now the main product being developed by their business called Phenomec.
When asked about their experience they said that the seed to their business started in a classroom at University, whilst both studying their bachelor degrees at the University of the Sunshine Coast.
“However we truly did not have a clear vision of what we were getting ourselves into at the beginning of Startup Weekend”, said Wilfrid.
“Which is exactly the point, you need to just go with the flow and understand that no idea is a bad idea”, added Danum.
Both Wilfrid and Danum are currently juggling their studies with the demands of starting up a business with 26-year-old Wilfrid doing a double degree of Business and Arts, and 22-year-old Danum finishing up a Business degree, where he will graduate November 2015.
With Wilfrid’s experience in sales and interactive multimedia and Danum’s familiarity with the entrepreneurial community, together the dynamic duo created something special.
“Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast gave us a multitude of opportunities, however it takes hard work and commitment to make it work,” said Danum.
Since the inaugural event in May 2014, Phenomec has had their product featured at the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) and the Dublin Web Summit and they have had positive business interactions with Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Oculus.
The boys were asked to give future participants some tips for the upcoming Startup Weekend on the 8-10 May, 2015.
“Prepare to not sleep that much”, said Wilfrid.
“Also, the extreme rush of adrenaline will fill you up with energy, and the last thing you want to do is to go to bed,” added Danum.
In the end, both of them agreed that future contestants should not have any set expectations for the weekend.
“It is a type of event that cannot be compared to anything else,” said Wilfrid.
Confidence is an important aspect of Startup Weekend. The two young entrepreneurs discussed that having confidence in yourself is extremely important, adding that in the beginning, people had doubts about their idea of Smartphone integrated virtual reality headset, as at that time, virtual reality was not nearly as popular and a lucrative business as it is today. Today, there are hundreds of applications for smartphone integrated virtual reality headsets.
When asked to sum up their experience at Startup Weekend, Wilfrid and Danum chose the words self-actualising and life-changing.
“The mentorship we received throughout the weekend and after the weekend has played an important role in our business and our growth,” said Danum.
In terms of the future of Phenomec, the duo are expanding the company’s focus into consulting and developing immersive software.
“Virtual reality is a powerful communications medium, engaging us at the deepest levels. We are creating compelling and interactive worlds that can be used to enhance the way we learn, work and play,” said Wilfrid.
For more information about Phenomec go to their website: www.Phenomec.com
For more information about Startup Weekend Sunshine Coast go to http://sunshine-coast.up.co/events/5828.
Blog post written by Thy Lam, University of the Sunshine Coast Public Relations Student.