If the recent PokemonGo craze taught us anything, it’s that no matter how little people care about Pokemon as a whole, society is fascinated by virtual reality. But beyond the initial fascination is an initial peek into the future of how people relate to all forms of media and Littlstar is your portal into this world. It’s global network dedicated to VR content and immersive experiences
AlleyWatch chatted with CEO Tony Mugavero about the startup, the future of the space, and an epic pet peeve.
Tell us about the product or service.
Littlstar is the leading network dedicated exclusively to virtual reality (“VR”), 360 video, and immersive experiences. Watch the best content from channels like ABC, Showtime, Discovery, Nat Geo WILD, PBS, Esquire, and more on VR devices like Oculus Rift, Sony Playstation VR, HTC Vive, Samsung Gear VR, our native mobile apps, Apple TV, and the web.
How is it different?
Littlstar is the largest, and was the first dedicated 360 video and VR network. All the content is exclusively immersive from the biggest studios, networks, brands, and publishers in the world.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
We are defining the VR and immersive content ecosystem as a global leader. The market for immersive technology and content is expected to be a $150 billion industry by 2020.
What is the business model?
Littlstar is currently free for all users.
What inspired the business?
When we bought an Oculus Rift as a Kickstarter project, we knew it was going to be huge. We were amped about all the possibilities. When looking for experiences, particularly video, we couldn’t find anything easily, so we started building a network dedicated to finding the best content that was exclusively immersive. We also found that producers were building their own VR apps just to distribute a single video. We made it easy for every producer to create and distribute content without having to rebuild VR apps over and over again.
We’ve had a number of starts and stops related to VR. Why is it the right time now and why will the trend last now?
It’s the perfect storm of Hardware, Software, Infrastructure, Pricing, and Entertainment (Gaming / Video). Consumers finally have a high-powered device in their homes that can make you feel like you’re somewhere else. This was never possible before at the level normal consumes could afford.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
We have a number of big hardware partnerships we are launching. PSVR, Sony Bravia, Mattel View-Master VR, Alcatel, and more. We have some big content deals we’ll be announcing, and international partnerships to launch Littlstar local versions. We recently announced Littlstar Japan with Sony Music Entertainment Japan, which is a huge deal.
What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?
I’ve been at this for a while (built 4 companies and sold 1), so I’ve heard a ton along the way. What I’ve seen happen in practice, is that you don’t learn much of the nuance in building a company and dealing with people during any kind of school. It happens in the moment. No boot camp can prepare you, and no MBA can save you. They can help you slightly, but much of it comes from first hand experience and just diving in. Learning how to sell yourself and the product you just made up, learning how to effectively hire top talent, learning how to find the right audience as quickly as possible, building excitement and hype around what you’re doing, and raising financing if you need it. There is no magic “advice” for doing any this. You have to bang around real time, as fast as possible, to get these things right for your company at it’s current stage.
If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?
Anyone who could possibly enact a law that automatically fines you $5 if you honk your horn in NYC. Horns are abused so hard here (and many other places). If it’s a scenario where you’d get in an accident, then you’ll be ok paying $5 because it saved you from getting in an expensive wreck. If you’re just being an asshole honking your horn at people all the time, it will cost you $1000 a month in horn-honking fees. Can someone please build that into the device that plugs into your car like the insurance companies use to track driving behavior? Probably not the answer you’re looking for, but it’s what I want!
Why did you launch in New York?
New York is rich in culture and diversity in countless industries that thrive here. We are a media company, so being close to networks, publishers, and brands is super important to us in the VR industry.
Where is your favorite fall destination in the city?
Union Square and Bryant Park Holiday markets. Getting some hot cider and walking around shopping and nibbling on local food is the best!