Today we are talking to Eugène Kuipers who presented his company Fectar at the Immersive Funding Market during the VR Days Amsterdam 2021.
It is a success story not based in Silicon Valley but in The Netherlands and it started three years ago at Eugène’s kitchen table.
What was the analysis that you made at that time and what was the vision that you had back then?
Rens (Lensvelt, co-founder and CTO Fectar) and I saw the possibilities augmented and virtual reality had for the future. We were looking at an AR scene and then Rens commented that he could make it work on a smartphone. That’s when we decided to start building a Content Management System (CMS) for AR and VR content. Back then we didn’t have a name for our vision of the future. We just wanted to connect everyone, everywhere with this new immersive and interactive technology. When we heard the term ‘metaverse’ everything just clicked. Global collaboration in extended reality accessible for everyone, for us that is the Metaverse.
AR and VR are now where the internet was in 1998. We are just beginning to discover all the possibilities. And I’m certain that in the years to come the Metaverse will grow bigger than the internet is now.
Your platform has more than 5 Mio users now after only 18 months? How did you achieve this?
We can hardly believe it ourselves. We just launched Fectar, when the COVID pandemic hit us all. That’s when we decided to focus our efforts on creating great 3D content to showcase our platform and to promote our app. We were aiming at 20.000 downloads in our first year. But the traction was enormous. We achieved our goal within 48 hours! We’re still amazed to see so many people from so many different backgrounds enjoying our app. Recently we launched our Stories feature in the app and people can now share photos and videos. Sometimes we see pictures of a classroom with limited resources, but with all the kids gathered around an AR animal model that the teacher is showing. It’s wonderful to see that they’re learning about the world through a smartphone. And in its first 4 months, the Stories were viewed more than 10 million times. What exactly are your products right now?
Our multisided platform consists of several key features for both viewers as well as creators. For the creation of 3D spaces – without any programming – we offer Fectar Studio on desktop and on mobile devices. To publish, share and view AR and VR environments we have the Fectar app with 5 million users worldwide. We also built a special AR plugin, called ARView, to add AR to an existing app or website. With Fectar Analytics we can track user activity in AR and VR, and produce our patented 3D Heatmaps for data-driven insight.
What markets do you address at the moment and why?
We are focussing on the B2B and B2E market at the moment. We see a lot of interest from higher education institutions. We offer combined packages for teachers and pupils. Teachers can prepare their classes and enhance their classroom material with AR. Students can work in their designated 3D environment or so called virtual classrooms and the teacher can check their progress. The students can of course create their own 3D scenes with Fectar Studio.
The user activity tracking is particularly interesting for the retail market. They learn where their customers’ field-of-focus (FoF) lies and what paths they follow in the 3D environment. This gives them the possibility to improve the customer experience accordingly.
Coming back to the title – democratizing the metaverse. Not only when Facebook changed its name to Meta this topic is discussed a lot. What is your vision of the future metaverse/web 3.0 and how will you develop your company to contribute to it?
We believe that in the coming years the real world and the virtual world will fully merge. This new reality is the Metaverse. We want the Metaverse to be created by its users. Not just by the big tech companies, or the elite few that own a VR headset. We want to invite everyone to help build the Metaverse by making it accessible. Already 2 billion people own a smartphone suitable for AR and VR using Fectar. And this number will only increase. So we support VR headsets, but also the mobile-only markets that can only access the internet on their smartphones. Everyone can now use the potential of AR and VR. That’s how we want to contribute in making the Metaverse diverse and inclusive.