“Be Transparent With Your People!”
When it comes to virtual and augmented reality technologies, the future that many of us have always dreamed about may already be here. That’s the case largely because of startups like Imascono, which is based in Spain. Imascono has done some amazing things while developing applied imagination and extended reality technologies that have the capacity to be used for entertainment, marketing, and industrial purposes.
Imascono CEO & Co-Founder Héctor Paz recently joined the Midstage Startup Momentum Podcast to talk with Roland Siebelink and Carlos Founaud about the long journey of the startup and key steps along the way.
- How Imascono has been able to prevent employees from leaving the company.
- How Imascono manages to connect the goals of the company with the goals of employees.
- The methods Imascono uses to create transparency with employees.
- The lessons Imascono has learned from negotiations involving a potential merger.
- The biggest takeaways from Imascono’s experience in an accelerator program.
Roland Siebelink: Hello and welcome to the Midstage Startup Momentum Podcast. My name is Roland Siebelink and I am a coach and ally for lots of fast-growing startups all over the world. Today, with me, two people dialing in from Zaragoza, Spain. One is my fellow coach, Carlos Founaud. Hello, Carlos. Thank you for joining me.
Carlos Founaud: Hi Roland. Good morning to you.
Roland Siebelink: Absolutely. And then our special guest today is Héctor. Hello, Héctor. You are the founder and CEO of Imascono.
Héctor Paz: Yeah. Thank you so much.
Roland Siebelink: Carlos, you introduced Héctor into the podcast, so I will have you kick off the interview, but I will still ask the first question, which is, Héctor, what does Imascono do? Who do you serve? And what difference are you making in the world?
Héctor Paz: In Imascono, we develop Applied Imagination. Applied imagination is the way that we understand technology and how we create a good experience with Extended Reality technologies. As you know, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Mixed Reality are technologies for the future. We try to use these technologies to give cool experiences to our customers, creating marketing experiences and also learning experiences. In Imascono, we develop these virtual extended mixed reality projects in the entertainment sector and in the marketing sector.
But when we say Applied Imagination, we have several important points inside this sentence. First, Gamification, that is, the use of Extended Reality. Second, User Experience, as the quality of the content that we are developing in our company. And finally, methodology. If you mix everything, you will have Applied Imagination, the next era of extended reality technologies and extended reality experiences. With that and our knowledge and background related with video games, we bring these new interfaces in Augmented Reality to businesses.
Carlos Founaud: Can you give us an example of what Applied Imagination is for you?
Héctor Paz: Applied Imagination is what you do when you are creating and using technology to create new emotional experiences for people. When you use Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, to create new experiences with customers, with companies. For example, we use Applied Imagination when we are creating applications and experiences for marketing, when we are creating web apps for learning processes. For these developments we use our background of video games and our knowledge of new technologies to create a connection between human beings and emotions with the technology.
Carlos Founaud: Give us one example of your applications with a customer. What would a user feel?
Héctor Paz: We have an excellent example of Applied Imagination in one of our Virtual Reality projects, in fact, it is something similar to Virtual Reality because it is a web application, a WebApp. We develop a cultural experience for Disney, a virtual kitchen. Basically, you enter a virtual kitchen and you can discover the different recipes that have been developed for Disney and for its physical cooking book. Here you enter in a game - something like a game - where you can take several steps of the recipe with your favorite Disney character, take several photos and, at the end of this process, you can get a comic of your experience in this kitchen. This was a project that we developed with Telefónica, Disney and Ferran Adria.
Carlos Founaud: Tell us a little bit about the story about the two founders. You are a serious guy. You have everything under control. Your partner, it’s much more of a fan; you can see your partner everywhere in the media. What’s the story of the company? Because it’s a very interesting one. And how do you work together?
Héctor Paz: We started in 2010, more or less, 2010, 2011. While I studied industrial engineering, focusing on digital products, I developed an Augmented Reality final project. I wanted to create something really new, a digital product to express innovations and creative projects that I had created during my academic career. And while I was looking for partners or maybe companies to develop these kinds of Extended Reality projects - in that moment, Augmented Reality projects - I created something like an Augmented Reality portfolio in an application.
At the same time, I was developing my own service as an engineer, I have the possibility to connect with Pedro. Pedro is my colleague, my partner in crime.
Everything started at that moment, we created this new project, Imascono, as a fashion brand with AR technology, creating three or four collections of Augmented Reality T-shirts from 2011 to 2013. Then, there was a possibility to create a new product based on education and Augmented Reality application for kids, so we created Chromville. We started creating this application with coloring pages that came to life through the AR app. In 2013, the members of the company increased with two profiles - in this case, designers and also programmers. Everything went in a good way, and we launched.
Carlos Founaud: How many are you now?
Héctor Paz: Thirty members.
Carlos Founaud: Something very special, you told me that the day we met, is since 2021, nobody has left the company and you only have three days of remote working a month. How do you do that?
Héctor Paz: Well, I think that the very interesting thing in our company is that we try to understand our employees. We try to converge everything, their own goals and the company goals. I believe that this is very important to create a connection between employees and their future. And also employees and the future of the company. We try to promote a very good career inside the company, trying to give them a vision of the next two years, three years. If the company grows, the employee grows. This is possible due to transparency, to be transparent with your people, to try to explain everything, to try to explain the strategy, to be very honest. I think that this is something really important.
And as I say, to have a strong culture inside the company with your methodology, with your processes, with the evolution of the technology that we are using, it is important to give the employees the opportunity to enter entrepreneurship. I think that when somebody has an idea and he or she wants to introduce this new project, we have to hear the things that they want to say and see and evaluate if these possibilities are good for the company and also for the evolution of the employee. Maybe a word that defines everything is transparency, and also connection between all of them.
And that’s why we try to be inside the company - to be in the physical space. When you are with other people and you share things and you work together on different topics like design, coding, technology, everything evolves and everything grows. We try to do that and we try to grow together in this new era of telework.
Carlos Founaud: If you look at newspapers or you look on the web for Imascono, one of the things you find is Telefonica. Tell us about what happened. One place, as you said, there was an acquisition, in other places, not. What happened at the end? For us, it’s not important really what happened, but how you came to your decision. What was the procedure to your decision?
Héctor Paz: Well, Telefonica was one of our first clients. We started with them in 2015. We shared a lot of things with them. Over the years we have created and developed many projects with this company.
I think that sometimes the future of your company, the future of your organization, is something really personal. When you start a negotiation like this, it’s a very difficult negotiation. You have to make a lot of important decisions.
Sometimes you feel that is the moment to do that. And when you start a negotiation like this, with long conversations with the other party, over time you realize that maybe we have to stop or we can talk at another time.
Carlos Founaud: But you said something really deep, which is the future on the personal decisions there. How do you feel? That was very interesting.
Héctor Paz: Yeah, because I believe that when you make these kinds of decisions - I think that the future of the company is the future of your life. We felt that we have more challenges to reach.
Carlos Founaud: You said something very interesting that you were part of as an acceleration program. Tell us which program was it? Who did you meet? Tell us one of your takeaways.
Héctor Paz: Well, I believe that the best way you can tell a business is like a story. That’s something I saw in San Francisco when I came to do a business program. When you tell a story and you explain the problem and you show the solution, your value proposition, your competition, your stakeholders and your attendees. I think that you have the possibility to develop a business there in the United States.
Carlos Founaud: Tell us, how can we help you or how can our listeners help you to move to the States?
Héctor Paz: Well, if you want to work with a new Extended Reality company, we are here. As you have heard, we know how to translate these new technologies in engagement and emotion. And we know how to land this new project with these new technologies in business models. I think that if you want to create something really new, if you want to use Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and you want to enter this new world, we are your company.
We will go to Miami in September. If you want to meet us, or maybe you want to know more about Applied Imagination or the technology that we are working on, we are here to meet with you. If you want to give my email or maybe my number or something like that, you can contact us using our website, our contact form. I think that the Imascono Spaceship will be there in one month. If you want to contact us, we are here to be with you.
Carlos Founaud: Okay. And our last question. Remember, you and Pedro, 10 years ago. From that, you build a company of 30 people, thinking big, thinking very big. You’re thinking very big. What advice would you give to these two founders who are today beginning from your experience?
Héctor Paz: It’s a difficult question. But I think that one of the most important things when you create or develop a company is to always try to be the future, to trust in your vision, to work, work, work, and work. I think that while you are working you have to analyze your performance, because if you try to work in the same way every time, sometimes you will fail. You are going to fail, but you have to stand up and continue. I think if you continue improving, if you continue trusting in yourself, if everything around you is related with transparency, if you are going to be honest with the rest of the world, if you try to go ahead with these kinds of values, you will probably reach success or you will reach a balance. I think that success and balance for me is the same.
You will reach these goals and you will have the possibility to create and also develop a company. That’s something really, really difficult, I think. And you are going to pivot too, you’re going to move your business model. Sometimes you move your technology. But you have to go ahead with everything and you have to work, work, and work. I believe that this is one of the most important things. And also, very important, work with a strategy. You have to work with a strategy and you have to think of the things that you are going to do and the things that you want to reach. You have to think first and then execute everything. I think that in this technological world, you have to think about strategy. And try to reach these goals with your strategy and also work on them.
Roland Siebelink: Okay, well, very good. This has been exciting, Héctor. Thank you so much for joining the Midstage Startup Momentum Podcast. And thank you, Carlos, for conducting almost all of the interview. I think you did a great job, both of you.
We will have additional podcast episodes coming up in the coming weeks, so stay tuned. And thank you very much for joining, Héctor and Carlos.
Roland Siebelink talks all things tech startup and bring you interviews with tech cofounders across the world.