About the author: Originally from Romania, Ondina Frate (ITP-Tisch ‘17) is both an artist and engineer. She holds a master’s degree from NYU and a bachelor’s degree in Engineering. She is the co-founder of Myx Reality, a storyboarding tool for virtual reality, providing a web-based solution that is simple, fast and shareable. Myx simplifies and shortens the process going from an idea into virtual reality.
This post is part of the NYU Summer Launchpad 2017 blog series featuring NYU entrepreneurs’ first-hand accounts of challenges faced in starting a business and the lessons learned along the way. Learn more about the NYU Summer Launchpad 2017 participants here.
I wanted to be an entrepreneur since I was little. Growing up in a post-communist Romania was a tough experience. When I was a teenager I wanted to open my own acting and dance studio for
children because taking dance classes was something I wanted to do as a child but there weren’t any studios at that time in Romania.
I ended up moving to Germany for my undergraduate degree where I taught dance for children as a way to give back to the community. I moved to New York City nine years ago and founded a production company “World Independent Films” and produced, wrote and directed “Flags Cut in the Middle”. Considering my two very different undergraduate degrees–acting and engineering–I went on to pursue a Master's Degree at NYU studying Interactive Telecommunications, where I met Joakim Quach, and together decided to found “Myx Reality”.
Joakim was always the “technical person”. When he was little his parents used to ask him to help them fix their computer and even now he is their “tech support” person. Joakim and I took a virtual reality class together and we realized that there was no easy tool to storyboard for VR so we decided to build our own tool. Myx Reality is just an idea we had, that is now coming to life.
Our vision for Myx Reality is to make virtual reality creation accessible to anyone, even those without VR experience to easily build VR worlds and share them.
First Lesson Learned
Being part of the Summer Launchpad taught us that nothing comes to you unless you work hard for it. We have to do a minimum of 15 interviews every week and how to reach people effectively was our first lesson learned. We started looking on LinkedIn and tried to approach people that were interested in Virtual Reality. We found out soon that people are very nice and yes, they respond on LinkedIn to help your research as long as you are being polite and don’t cross the line.
Second Lesson Learned
Our second lesson learned was how to build an MVP - “Minimum Viable Product.” Alex Iskold from Techstars was very kind to meet with us for office hours and explained us that a lot of start-ups do the same mistake when building their MVP. “They build what is ‘minimum’ needed for their product but they forget the ‘viable’ part of it”. “A great MVP isn’t only simple, it is also sufficient”, writes Alex in his blog. So Joakim and I wondered what is our ‘viable’ part of the software and the answer for us was building a landing page to track interest in storyboarding for Virtual Reality and let people sign up for the beta of our app. After running a Facebook ad for one day, we got some traction and went onto develop our landing page more and do wireframes of how the software should look like to be a product/market/fit for our target customers.
Third Lesson Learned
Dan Kantor, an ITP alum just like Joakim and I, came to talk to us at the Summer Launchpad and he shared this great picture by Henrik Kniberg of how an MVP is testing the problem and not the solution.
All the great advice by our mentors, speakers and lessons we learned in the first few weeks of Summer Launchpad helped us shape our MVP. We invite you to check out Myx Reality, sign up for the beta and give us your feedback: www.myxreality.com. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.