Kunal Patel, co-founder and CTO of BrandXR, discusses how a lack of red tape makes our ecosystem unique and gives a unique response when asked what he wishes the region had.
The Orlando innovation ecosystem is rich with high-caliber tech talent and boundary-pushing entrepreneurs. In an effort to foster a more connected community, the Orlando Tech Council presents “Profiles in Tech,” a new series highlighting the region’s top executives, innovators and movers and shakers whose ideas and companies are changing the world right from our own backyard.
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This week’s Orlando Profiles in Tech features Kunal Patel, co-founder and CTO of Brand XR. He details how a lack of red tape makes our ecosystem unique and gives a unique response when asked what he wishes the region had.
Have you experienced an “only in Orlando” moment? If so, what was it?
All the time! Usually when a big initiative or undertaking is necessary at BrandXR or the Orlando Game Space, or even community events like Indienomicon, we break down what resources we need, or types of people we need to contact. In one week, I can get a breakdancing dance troupe, a NASA engineer, four video game programmers, a 3D artist, a former CEO of a multinational multimedia company, a former hollywood lighting consultant and a nature conservation expert to all come in on a project proposal. I’m always both simultaneously surprised and not surprised when this happens in Orlando.
What brought you to the Orlando region? What’s kept you here?
Originally my parents brought me here from the arctic tundra of Detroit Michigan. I the better weaterh think is a common reason people originally come here. However the “second” time was a few years after graduating from University of Miami – I was travelling around the country quite a bit consulting for tech but I ended up with a software architect role with a plastics company and the cost of living was great so I stayed.
What’s kept me here has been the feeling like I can make a big difference or get to any contacts very quickly without lots of red tape or politics.
What makes Orlando the right place for your business? How does being in Orlando contribute to your business success or personal growth?
In other major metro hubs, things take a while, meetings take time, and it takes time to make connections. Here I don’t feel that. No matter whether it’s someone at NASA I have to speak to, someone at the Orlando Magic or even someone at the Mayor’s office, I feel like my company can get attention.
I’ve also had meetings with people from NYC and heard they can fly down here faster than they can get into Manhattan with traffic. Seriously a two hour flight down from NYC and to our office in Downtown Orlando is faster than seeing someone in your own region. So I always feel like living in Orlando is super convenient for global business deals.
What makes the Orlando tech ecosystem unique?
The culture is really a mix of the world, as people have come here from all over. I feel like I get a good combination of perspectives from everyone’s history in other regions and how they would do things differently this time around…in this city. There’s definitely a grass roots feel where everyone is willing to help if you ask. Combine that with the feeling that the canvas we’re all painting on is not complete, we can really shape the next 50 years of our city today.
What‘s one thing you wish Orlando had? What will it take to make that a reality?
The answer everyone has is more early stage capital. Of course that is critical for innovative frontier tech and less of the safe bets, but that’s a discussion on its own so I’ll mention something else.
A 3D volumetric capture studio. You may go, “huhh what is that? It’s a large 3D scanning space that is very useful for getting real life objects and people into AR/VR experiences that are easily shareable. It’s like a reverse 3D printer. Folks like Microsoft have these studios in LA, SF, Tokyo, DC and London but there is no reason this should not exist in Orlando with everything we have here.
You could capture a CEO giving a keynote or a ballerina doing a dance performance or an engineer showing you how to put something together as a realistic 3D hologram and put it on your coffee table or living room floor just using your smartphone. $250K on the cheap end, but likely $1MM to do it right, some real estate to place it in and perhaps a number of local sponsors / first customers to kick it off. There’s educational, entertainment, and sales & marketing use cases useful off the bat.
If you had to describe to an out-of-town friend what it’s like to live, work, learn and play in Orlando, what would you say?
Imagine everything you wanted to do for work or play was no more than 30 minutes away – how easy would your life be? The best food in your life, seeing a great concert or play, your office, wanting to go watch a rocket launch, visiting Disney, getting all your friends for a happy hour after work. We’re very lucky to have the talent, resources and physical density we have here in Orlando and sometimes we don’t realize it ourselves.
The Orlando Tech Council is composed of private industry, resource organizations and public partners that work to develop new programs with the core objectives: strengthen the Orlando region’s innovation resources, create new opportunities for companies to scale, and to amplify the region’s success stories, raising the global profile of Orlando as a leading community for entrepreneurship and innovation.