Students of the Week: Ashton Kennedy & Veena Somareddy
Why do you want to be an Entrepreneur?
Ashton | My dad became an entrepreneur when I was 11 and has been working on his passion ever since. He had an active role in my life and I appreciated that his work allowed him that flexibility. I have always hoped for the same in my own life. I've been a part-time freelancer for a very long time and enjoy creating and seeing projects through to completion. Creating a sustainable business around my skills has been one of my goals while working on my MBA. When it came to developing a business idea, I wanted to merge my skills with a new emerging market and saw virtual reality content development as that opportunity. With that focus, I now have a purpose and mission behind starting a company and a channel to continue creating stories that impact people and applications that improve people's lives.
How do you see Converse VR positively impacting the Texas VR community?
Veena | Converse VR will be a place for all VR/AR enthusiasts to read about news in Texas and also showcase their work. Its place for them to meet other like minded individuals to collaborate and work on projects they are passionate about and create quality content for this emerging industry.
Ashton | In the last 6 months that I've been digging into the VR ecosystem I have yet to encounter a centralized community for VR creatives in Texas and the majority of the industry seems to be settling in SF and LA. Even with the magnetic pull to the West Coast, Samsung's immersive product R&D is right here in Richardson, TX and there are active VR communities in Houston and Austin, but they are all relatively unconnected to one another. That's why it is an important part of Converse VR's mission to help unite these groups with the Dallas community so that we can help grow a strong virtual reality industry in Texas. It's important to not limit the industry to a single geographical area and open up businesses where creativity meets technology.
Why are you passionate about virtual reality?
Veena | I grew up playing games and being able to play those games again without the barriers of a screen and feel like you are actually in the game environment gives a tremendous sense of presence. I also like to create my own environments, interactions in the virtual world and make it as immersive and enjoyable as possible. Since its a field that is growing and changing rapidly, there are lot of opportunities to explore the applications of VR, from games to training to listening to music in VR, a project that I had worked on previously.
Ashton | Virtual Reality opens up a new realm of ways to tell stories, to learn, and to experience our world. With its unique ability to provide interactive immersion, there are many opportunities to create powerful, empathetic films and applications that people can learn from and enjoy. Users have the ability to be an active participant in their experience giving the outcome more weight. VR also lowers the cost of simulations that can help train people for tough, highly technical jobs or help improve their lives by providing an escape from reality to cope with pain or other mental ailment. There are many other applications we haven't yet discovered that could possibly enhance our everyday lives - that possibility of exploration and creation fuels my desire to work in the medium.
How has SPURstartup helped you with your startup journey?
Ashton | Jon and Maggie have been integral champions in getting our startup on its feet. Jon helped us with our logo's design and Maggie helped us refine our campaign messaging and purpose to get our initial seed funding. The platform has been a great tool in getting the word out about what we're trying to achieve, as well as a huge motivator in diving head first into defining our company and producing our first content and products.
Check out Converse VR on SPURstartup, here, and help them bring the VR community to Texas!