This interview went off the rails

Vineet Devaiah is the founder of Teliportme, which offers virtual tour software. I invited him because I want to hear how he built the company up, had sales cut 90% by COVID, and is now building it back up even stronger.

Vineet Devaiah

Vineet Devaiah


Vineet Devaiah is the founder of Teliportme, which offers virtual tour software.


Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses. Maybe the person who is listening to us right now will be on Mixergy at some point in the future, and probably laugh at the fact that they’ve heard me say freedom fighters for years and years. You know, I really do feel that entrepreneurs are the freedom fighters. When you think about how we are trapped at home, can’t send our kids to school, these freaking entrepreneurs, I see them. They’re thinking, how do I get school open up? How do I do remote school? How do I create an app? They’re just like, we’re going to liberate you from all this stuff now.

Are they solving everything? No. Are they going to, are they going to be the answer to every problem? Absolutely not. But when you think about. Giving the rest of the world freedoms. I think it’s coming from entrepreneurs more than it is from anywhere else. Anyway. so joining me as an entrepreneur who has heard me do this forever.

I’m glad that you’re here.¬† is the founder of teleport me. It’s virtual tour software. Basically tell me if I’ve got this right. I can use my phone to do like a three-sixty Google street view type of photo where people could then see the photo. As if they’re standing in the same, uh, where I was didn’t and if they, if they move their phone up, they could look up the way that I might look up.

If they move their phone down, or if they moved to the right and left, it would be just like, they’re standing in my spot on my right. Does it work with Google cardboard where I can put it? It does. So if I have that cardboard box that Google makes, I put my Android phone into it, I could see all the photos that are on teleport me as if I’m standing in the spot in virtual reality,


Vineet: So that’s pretty much what the basic functionality of our app does. Yes.

Andrew: And the revenue from it is

Vineet: I think last year, if all in good, we were tracking about half a million.

Andrew: What do you mean if we’re like nine months into this year? basically what you’re saying to me is roughly half a million, right? This year though, post COVID what happened?

Vineet: Well, post COVID things went South very quickly. Um, you know, we, we were really excited about 2020. We had kind of pivoted our business, uh, into a different sort of way. Uh, and we were excited about the growth and then, uh, Most of our revenue comes from an average, which is people who are traveling to download our app and they hit, you know, upgrade and they get an upgrade and people stopped traveling.

And so early February, March our revenues went down 90%. And, uh, So since then, we’ve been trying to like kind of, um, scramble if you may.

Andrew: And transition into what, what do you think the next growth can be?

Vineet: Well, you know, VR, probably one of those few companies like zoom, where, what your tours are now hot, you know, cause we’ve been trying to do this for 10 years and what your tours are never hot. Um, but now every real estate agent, every university, every construction site, uh, they want, which were tourists. Uh, we didn’t have the.

You didn’t have the actual virtual tour product, but if you go to teleport in early July, we launched the fastest, which we’ll do a product. And it’s been, it’s been picking up, uh, you know, touch wood, organically, like our Panaroma app. You know, big companies are coming to us directly because we are the only product that has captured on the phone.

And a lot of these large


Andrew: What you’re saying is in the past, somebody would go on vacation and want to show their family or keep for themselves. Solves a 360 degree photo or experience of where they stood when they were on vacation. That was nice.

What you’re seeing is today, if somebody wants to rent an apartment or buy a house somewhere, they are often can’t go in there and I’ve noticed it. Yeah. A lot of real estate brokers that we were looking with looking at, they either wouldn’t allow us to go look until we signed an agreement that said that we wouldn’t Sue them.

If we got COVID and we made all these others, uh, provisions to make them feel comfortable, or they would just say, look just. Take a look at this virtual tour that we’ve got, and it would be some kind of whacked out video. They weren’t, they’re still not great at it. And so you’re saying your product could allow people to have this virtual tour experience where they basically are walking through a home.

They could turn around and look and see where it is. Go from the living room to the kitchen and see what the kitchen, see what the living room looks like from the kitchen. So on. Got it. That’s what it is. Okay. So. That’s the future that you think, but it’s still early. You still you’re still early. So, I mean, let me ask you this blunt question.

Why did you suggest an interview now? Why not? Wait until this thing works itself out and deal with this headache?

Vineet: Well, I just thought that, you know, in my entrepreneur, like, like I said, I’ve been listening to you forever. And I think you also know, cause we have exchanged messages, , many times. And, , you know, I just think that like entrepreneurship comes in cycles and I just saw the cycle repeat again. And I just thought, you know what?

This is a time where I can go on and be like, not be one of those founders that is really early. And hasn’t been through kind of, you know, you know, how, when you find a growth trajectory, like this is the way to do it, email marketing, that’s the way you grow up in our business, you know? And so that’s just not how things work.

And I’ve been through a couple of these phases and I just feel like I’ve done 10 years. I’ve put in my work. I’ve done good work.

Andrew: but you’re at a difficult moment willing to be open about it. And your successes over the years that you want to talk about. And you have one that you don’t want me to talk about this company that you sold for a million dollars We’ll see if we can bring that up a little bit later on though. So

aren’t you freaking out? Why are you laughing so much? Why are you laughing so much? Why aren’t you freaking out? Why? I have to tell you. I woke up in the middle of the night. Last night. I had ClickFunnels sponsorship. I failed them. They didn’t didn’t work out.

I didn’t get them. The orders that they wanted. I’m trying to figure out what do I do? Make that up. That’s keeping me up at night. And it doesn’t worry them. I talked to ClickFunnels, they go, Andrew, we take a risk on ads. That’s the way it is. We accepted I’m up nights, worried about it. They’re not why is it that your business got knocked out?

90% in you are not

Vineet: I think it’s just a personality trait.

Andrew: You’re always just comfortable where you are. You’re always happy.

Vineet: most of the times. Yeah. I mean, I think, yeah, I think maybe in my life there are like maybe two or three times where it really like hit me.

Andrew: Okay. Talk about openly about one of the times that it hits you as an entrepreneur.

Vineet: Yeah. As an entrepreneur, there’s one, one, one, one 10 day phase where I can remember. Alright, so basically this is 2017.

we had invested all our money to VR and VR crashed. we were. Literally broke. Um, there’s no money in the bank. I had no money. I was stuck in Luxembourg on a visa problem. we were going through a program in Luxembourg where the government was going to give us about a hundred thousand euros.

So that was like our bridge bridge money, but it wasn’t coming in and,

I couldn’t leave the country because my visa had not come out. And I remember specifically for 10 days I couldn’t sleep. I generally sleep very peacefully. I couldn’t sleep for 10 days. And I remember calling my friend of mine and say like, man, I now know what people.

Feel, and then depressed. Cause I had, I used to always say like, why do people be depressed? And then I just pretend day’s at my time, maybe like a week, it was really, really difficult. Cause I really had no answers. It was probably one of the toughest times where, you know, when you can, I believe a country when you can’t do anything.

Yeah. It just becomes very difficult to do like make any kind of plants. I was just sitting and waiting for the government of Luxenberg to approve my visa. Cause I was in the middle. I was in the transition. I couldn’t leave to like, do they approve it? And I couldn’t go get no money. I couldn’t meet my team.

I couldn’t do anything. So it’s just kind of stopped

Andrew: This feeling of helplessness. Okay. So now you’re not depressed because you’re not feeling helpless because you feel like I have this new thing. I believe that people need it now more than ever, I could pull it off and your mind just goes into, don’t be upset. Don’t feel bad for yourself. Just pull off this virtual tour thing.

And if not that, then the next thing. What happened with the government of Luxembourg? Did they end up paying for VR? They did. So they paid you, they paid you a hundred thousand dollars to do virtual reality euros to do virtual, even better to do a virtual reality software to do what for them.

Vineet: it was the program where they it’s kind of like an ax, like a accelerator program, equity fee program that they would give to attract entrepreneurs to Luxembourg. And, uh, like I said, we were in a really, really bad spot. So that money came to the lifetime. It’s just that there was a gap and they was kind of bad.

And I have to give credit to my team there where they did not leave the company. That’s the,

Andrew: They didn’t leave. They kept on working and eventually you didn’t get the money. And so you were able to pay them their back pay, even though you missed a little bit of payment, but let’s go back and understand you.

Vineet: Okay.

Goa, India.

Andrew: What was that? Like,

Vineet: It was, uh, it was great. It was, uh, I think that’s one of the reasons, the way I am, cause goal-wise kind of like a beach town. And so everybody, you know, even my friends today, my closest friends there. they have a day job, which is not very taxing. And then they go back and then they fish and then they, you know, eat rice and fish and, you know, the chill and they play with their kids.

Andrew: They just go fish for themselves. They eat the fish, they do their day job. They play with their kids.

I had a problem like that with San Diego, I went to San Diego just to experience it. I liked how small town it felt. I liked how it was very beachy. But dude, everyone was walking around in flip flops.

Even people at work were walking around flip flops. They were so casual. They couldn’t wait to go surf the next day. I said, I could really enjoy it, but it won’t make me angry. And if I don’t have a little bit of anger and me a little bit of fire, yeah. I’m not going to do any work. I’m just going to start to, as you said, I’m going to chill and I’m going to be the nicest person everyone’s going to like being around me, but I’ll look back five years on my life in San Diego and think.

What happened? Where do those five years go? I’ll have to show for it is happiness and that’s not enough for me.

Vineet: I forgot her name, but I was telling you the person that does the pre yeah. And I told her that I remember how you used to be in your first interviews to give you the answer. Tell me what the answer is, you know, and you know, used to be, and now you’re calm down a little bit compared to

Andrew: You know, what did it for me? It was, it was being at South by Southwest and all of my guests at the live event. Or thought we were fighting and, and hated me. He was like, Zay, Frank, who eventually ended up running Buzzfeed’s video division. He said, at the end, I said, thank you for doing it goes, you don’t know that we were arguing up there that I don’t like you.

I don’t know that he said exactly. I don’t like you, but. I realized, Oh right. I was poor. I was pushing him for more details and he’s comfortable with, because he’s more of an artist. He’s not thinking about the data days, step by step he’s creating.

And then, uh, One of my best memories of that is Gary Vaynerchuk that tell me how you come up with the things you do, the, what do you mean? And we went on for like 10 minutes like this, and I said, for example, I see you walking around South by Southwest. You’re giving people these wristbands, these sweat bands that.

All the bartenders have all the waiters, have all the people who walk around, they have it, the design that looks like kind of a wineglass kind of like a sperm, like he’s going to impregnate you with his passion for wine. It was just a beautiful logo that also had a little bit of edge to it. I said, how did you come up with it?

He goes, I don’t know what just happens. I go, how, I don’t know. Cause how do you even think about a wristband that’s red that’s he goes, he finally, after saying, I don’t know, for five minutes, he said, well, actually, Andrew, what happened was I had a wristband on while I was drinking wine and then I just needed to wipe my mouth.

And so I wiped it on the wristband and I said, Hey, that’s a great idea. And I realized he was. He wasn’t lying, but he was just like, I gotta get this idiot off of my back. I’ll say something. And that’s when I understood it. There’s some things in life you push too far and you end up getting something bad.

It’s not always good to be so determined anyway. So yeah, I, uh, I’m chilling out a little bit more. I’m still not San Diego chill. I’m still not going to chill, but I get now where you come from you. Can we talk a little bit about this company that you created? Okay. So the company, from what I understand happened, because you had a computer in the, in the nineties, when most people didn’t have computers,

Vineet: Yes. My dad had a computer in his office. No, I didn’t have a computer. We were too broke for that, but had my dad had a computer in the office. So I would go to his house, uh, in the weekends, uh, to play games. And then, you know, from there it kind of evolved into what can I do more? And then he just said, stop playing games, learn something.

And so. I started with the program. And then the computer he had at his house office was not powerful enough to run any of the competition stuff I wanted to do. And so he sent me to target go to the recess center, which was the closest kind of recess center that had popped computers. Um, I don’t even remember what computers they were cause they were like these big blocks.

You wouldn’t like small computers, the big blocks connected to a monitor. And so, um, yeah, I learned how to, I just did a,

Andrew: They just gave this Antarctic study center. They just had computers for kids who wanted to

Vineet: No, no, no. I had my, my dad, my dad’s a friend kind of worked in that place. And also his daughter was, his daughter

Andrew: Got it. So it was a friend, a friend of the family, a friend of yours had some kind of connection there. And so you were able to go use their computer and you were a teenager. You were teaching yourself to program. and so you start learning and they have access to weather data there. Right?

Vineet: Yep. That’s all they do. Yeah. They, they collect weather data and they have these study centers all across the world. And so they collect at each part, they collect weather data and they compile it and they’re kind of like running studies. So that’s kind of what they do.

Andrew: And so you said, let me see what I can do with this data. What’d you do with it?

Vineet: Uh, I, I didn’t do much, my point is that, so that’s why I don’t like talking about it because it’s not that it’s not in, in millennial lawyers. It’s not that deep. Um, you know, it’s, uh, basically I took a bunch of data. like 60 or 70 years of prior data, and then I kind of average them out, uh, on daily basis so that if you.

Uh, if you rap, you build a chart and you extrapolated it to any further date, it would give you an approximate date of approximate understanding of what the temperature. And it was just fancy for its time. And, uh, I used, uh, you know, C plus plus, which was a graphing, programming language to build these graphs.

That look very nice. And so it was kind of like a high school project that it was very well received and there was a market for it, uh, an opportunistic market where a company that taught that felt like this was a way for them to get into. Like we discussed into kind of the Indian agricultural space.

Andrew: It seems like it’s kind of like the farmer’s Almanac where people used to years ago, get really excited about the idea that you can buy this book that based on historical weather conditions would help farmers figure out what the future, whether it was going to be, but where they were basing it. On years of past data, you are basing it on days of more recent.

Pass data. Okay. You put it on floppy disks, the government of India, pate of go, excuse me. The government of Goa bought this from you to make available to farmers or just took it. They just took it from you made it available to farmers. Infosys. There’s a

Vineet: at that time. They were not major. It

Andrew: they weren’t.

Okay. Okay. And so they came to you and they said, we want to buy this from you.

Vineet: Well, what happened was they were a service provider, an it service provider. And once the government of Karnataka bonded, also implement Granada and go our neighboring States and, uh, you know, The sort of the, I don’t know how they heard that there is the software and that helps people. So they, the government of Karnataka contacted Infosys and said, can you get this software to us?

So they came to us saying, Oh, we want to take it to their it services. They want to do on the software company, that client. Um, and so they, they sign and then they had a client that they wanted to attract. And so do attract that client. Um, they had to. They had to own the IP to be called. So they renamed the softwares Infosys software.

And so for that, they paid us 1.5 million

Andrew: 1.5 million

Vineet: Yeah,

Andrew: paid us, meaning you or you and your dad.

Vineet: my dad, yeah,

Andrew: What happened to the money?

Vineet: the, I gave it to charity.

See, this is why I didn’t want to talk about it.

Andrew: What do you mean? You give it to charity? You’re a guy who couldn’t afford a computer. You’re now giving away money to charity like bill Gates.

Vineet: I totally, we should not talk about it because I knew this would be a reaction. Well, I’ll tell you the story. I mean,

Andrew: I’m not editing it and there’s no derailing. It’s not like there’s a rail going somewhere. I’ve already forgotten to introduce the advertise in the beginning of this interview. So there’s no rail go on, dude. I’m living in California where it’s literally red. Actually it started out as dark at nine o’clock in the morning.

It went to red, it went to light orange. Now we’re seeing yellow. The world’s going to end any minute. Anyway, I might as well go go, or you want to go. I literally can’t open up a first of all, I’m not at my office, which stinks because of COVID I’m now at home, which I hate my earphones. My ear piece is popping out all the time.

I don’t know why that’s happening here. And I literally can’t open up the window because it’s either going to smoke or covert will come through the air or God knows what’s next.

So go ahead. Tell me

Why did you donate the money? What’s the deal here?

Vineet: Well, so my dad died, that’s the, that’s the sad part, we were in the process of closing the deal. And we close the deal and my dad was diagnosed with cancer a year back. And so he, uh, he was really sick. So he really couldn’t do much in terms of closing the deal deal, got close, the money got wired.

Um, but then he died in like

a month that. And he died of cancer. It really affected me a lot. And the, the, the, uh, the cancer research center that my dad was admitted in, I went up to them and said, I really want this. I say that if he likes to be, but I really want this disease to go. I want to, I have this money.

I have, I didn’t have authorization. Cause it was my dad’s my dad and another guy. And I went to him and said, I want all this money to go. Uh, for cancer research. And then since then after that I stopped programming and I started working towards curing cancer. That’s why I did chemical engineering and biomedical engineering.

After that I got into a PhD program at MIT. So I w I was, no, I wasn’t sad. I mean, I was sad. I was sad, but. for me, cancer was a, and still is something that I’m passionate about getting rid of. I think it is one of those diseases where it really is. You know, it’s one of those things that cannot be a wider, like you could be the most healthiest person in the world and still get cancer.

So it’s just, it’s just one of those things that, I’m deeply passionate about. I spent eight years of my life pursuing it. Uh, only to realize that as a researcher, I would not be able to affect. The general cancer too high. So the next best strategy wants to get rich enough to fund


Andrew: so, wait, are you still motivated by wanting to cure cancer or make enough money to help out you are? Okay. All right. Tell me where the idea for teleport me came from. What was the original, the original name,

Vineet: photo tour.

Andrew: photo tour? What are the original idea? Come from?

Vineet: Well, the idea actually came off from our, the initial product. It’s three 60. Um, this was a product my cofounder has started back in school and we just decided to work together. So we were working on like four different ideas. One was a corporate role for people to ask examinations questions.

One was kind of a zoom call sharing thing back in the day. and the other was three 60 where we had, uh, a, already a product on the three 60, which was which we’ll tour product panoramic, which we’ll do a product. And the idea was we were going to, I’m going to sell that. Product. And with that money, we are gonna fund the development of the other projects we had and see what takes off.

So that’s how we started building it. And then, you know, I just kind of got passionate. Yeah. What about the idea of building the, what today? They call them mirror world, which is the, um, the digital replica of the real world. It sounds okay now, but back in 2011, it sounded crazy. You know, we would tell people we are building the digital.

Yeah. Yeah. So, yeah, so I mean, that’s what we wanted to do. So our initial first product was photo tour where we scraped millions and millions of geotagged images and we try to build a street view out of it. So he said, so our basic thesis was there is going to be a. It was where augmented reality in which will reality is how you are going to, uh, conduct computing.

Yeah. Yes. You are going to interface with the world through some kind of deal, you know, just to put it contacts now that there is a device at that time, there was no device that device now it’s kind of like a Google glass or an Apple glass kind of device. And we, we went there and if you, if you look at our of slides, it would be, you know, we would show slicker, Instagram teleport me.

Andrew: Got it, this belief that just like people used to take pictures and post it on flicker and Instagram, you believe at some point they’re going to want to take photos of experiences that are bigger than just this square or this rectangle. And you are going to be the social platform for them to be able to share those photos.

Vineet: Right. Right. And, but the, the bigger idea behind that was, there is going to be a competition layer that is going to work through your eyes, which mr. Elan Musk calls Neurolink now, right? It’s the same thing. it is looking at your brain, but the highest input is through your eyes. Like your eyes are the most.

uh, largest sensors in your body, you consume the most amount of data through your eyes. And so, so with that kind of in perspective, think of it as the Google street view has mapped the load. You know the streets of the world, but it is literally impossible for you to map everything in indoors. So if you have a competition layer that works only outside of your house, it’s not going to be good enough.

So you want it to extend inside of your house, inside buildings, inside places where you can use an AR glass that you can use augmented reality in your phone, where your phone can protect where you are. This is a, you know, basically it’s a detection device. Inside your house. And, um, we thought that the best way to do that is two things.

One is have users generated the content and give people the ability to say, this is my house. And I own the augmented reality experience of this house, which unfortunately is going away because Facebook is probably going to

Andrew: Wait, why, why, why would somebody want to have a

fake version or video version of their house? What

Vineet: Well, well it’s because you want to make augmented reality extremely, extremely good. Right? For example, if you are sitting in the room right now, and you’re way at varying degrees, your Google glass needs to know what you’re looking at, where you’re looking at and in which direction you’re looking at. So unless it has a mirror replica off your room, It’s impossible for, I mean, it’s possible to tell where you are.

It is possible to save this direction you’re looking at, but it’s impossible to say what you’re looking at. Very looking at an illustration, looking at if there is no,

Andrew: Map of it. Got it. Extreme views have created a map of the outside world. You wanted people to create the map of the inside world and the bonus for them for doing it is they would, they would have a better experience with whatever product came out in a future, Google glass or Apple glass, if they decided to come up with it or whatever it is,

Vineet: Right. Right. Well, it was, it wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t like a, it wasn’t a bad launch. I think from a launch perspective, we were very successful. We skyrocketed onto the Android charts. Uh, we were featured app and this, and we were probably the first app out of India to ever get featured on the international Google play store.

Um, and. You know, we were one of the first companies out of India to get funded in the Valley, uh, through an accelerator. Um, so we did a lot of firsts. I mean, I was the first Indian founder be on tech crunch in an interview with Sarah. Listen, Paul Carr, shout out to the OGs. Yeah. And, um, so yeah, so there was a lot of fuss, uh, you know, 2011 to 12 and 13, we were conscious, we were killing it in our space and then kind of a reality hit.

Yeah. You know, it’s just, uh, it’s difficult to build is a, I would say business around panoramas because people don’t use it everyday. And any consumer product that’s not used every day is very difficult to monetize, difficult to retain retention is a problem. And so all of these things kind of fell, uh,

Andrew: But before you continue with what happens, but I’m looking at the article from tech crunch. First of all, the thing that strikes me is you’re cracking up even in the photo on tech crunch. Look at that. It’s hard to see, but you’re, you’re like not just happy to be there, but you’re just cracking up. Number one, number two, the company was photo number three, thing that stands out is you came, they say to the Valley too.

Collect emergency company award from the video. What’s the emergency company award. Oh, emerging. Ah, got it. Okay. I misread it right. The emerging company word from the video. What is that?

Vineet: from Nvidia. Right. Okay. Well basically what we were doing is we were using GPS on the server, um, which was never done before at that point, like, and video is trying to push GPS and they wanted to push companies that were using GPS. So that’s how like early in stuff it did. Right. Um, and they had to find a company in India.

A bunch of three people that were basically routing all the images that we had into a server in our, in our, uh, desktop in India, maybe visits, we were doing crazy shit at that time. And they noticed it, you know, we kind of sent, like, I think we went to their forums and we were like, we have this problem.

We really don’t know how to fix it. And they were like, you are doing this. Really getting help. And so it was, well, it was, it was, you know, it was happy at best. You know, basically what we were doing is we had a website where people upload photos, they will come, we had a GPU in our desktop at home. It will come onto the GPU. They was kind of like a GPU server, but not really as you. So it was like, it was a total hacky system, you know?

So. Night, I am

Andrew: Got it.

Okay. So this is what you had. You got money from 500 startups. How much money did they give you?

Vineet: uh, they had their basic, uh, deal accelerator terms. I don’t even remember it. It’s like, it

Andrew: 25,000.

Vineet: I think it’s like 15. Yeah, it was 15,000. I think. That’s 15,000 and then plus then like 40,000, because we were doing really well, we had metrics, so they added 40 on top of it. And then, so our initial raise was about 400,

Andrew: What didn’t work about this? Nothing worked software. Wasn’t great. People didn’t love it. Why didn’t

Vineet: No, no, no, no, no, no. That stuff worked, but from a,

Andrew: want to share.

Vineet: yeah, all that stuff worked, but it wasn’t a viral sensation, you know, Instagram, because the thing maybe start it off, but then Instagram came and they changed the metrics of what morality meant. And so by the time we kind of reached out, we were like, Oh, but you’re not as wireless Instagram and was not, you know, so it kind of just.

Yeah, so it really hurt us at that point. And then I also, I think, you know, we realized that the business wasn’t there. I think it was, I think all of us knew. I think that’s one of the reasons my co-funder account also left. There was no business. There was, you know, we had this vision, we had a technology vision.

Uh, we had a big, uh, big, big goal, big idea. Um, but there was no business round. There was no user, um,

Andrew: Okay, but here’s what did work? The software worked. Well, the ability to do street view street view was done using multiple cameras on a ball. Right? You guys did it on an app Android phone, which often was pretty crappy. What did

Vineet: Yeah.

I know what you’re leading.

Andrew: for people who don’t know what’s happening is I’ve got a producer, Ari who pre-interviewed him and frankly, We do that. And I have notes also. And what I try to do is guide my guests towards that’s the direction that I want to talk about next, without jumping in and saying the four of you. So what I’m trying to get you to is they saw that they were impressed that you were able to do this on Android phones.

Some of the Android phones at the time were pretty bad. They said, how did you do it? And more importantly, they said, we want to buy it.

Vineet: Yes. Well, I was a, it was a shock. I mean, I think, uh, they, they invited us to the Google campus and they said, Oh, we really love what you’re doing. We would like to know what, how you’re doing. And so we were really excited, you know, we were. Just sitting in a small apartment in Noida, and we were really excited about it.

Um, we went for the meeting and then we had like all these people from the camera team and they were asking us questions and we were like, should we be telling you all of this stuff? We were not sure. And then I kind of, and you know, my, my T was really, they really wanted to share the amazing stuff they did.

And suddenly I realized, you know, this is probably not. What I think it is, you know? And so I just said, I think, you know, we shouldn’t be disclosing what we did in this, in this meeting. And, uh, you know, if you have any other questions about distribution and how to get on the play store, we would love to do it. And, uh, you know,

I don’t know. I mean, I was trying to, like, not because they had three camera, like open CV camera guys, uh, that were on video call. Like they weren’t even in the office, but they had to, like, they wanted to talk with us

Andrew: Got it. This was your way of saying, look, I’ll talk about some things, but I don’t want to tell you how we were able to do this street view

Vineet: Right. Right. And at that point they didn’t have the photosphere. They were working on the photosphere product. They didn’t even have the photosphere is

Andrew: all the cameras on it.

Vineet: no, no. Google has their own app to take a Panorama. Like they didn’t have that yet. So Android as a phone did not have Panorama feature. It just acts. So that’s why we were so big because, you know, we had the Panorama feature film. They

Andrew: Okay.

Vineet: it out.

I have no idea, man. You’ve got to ask my teammates who are not at my team. Right. I don’t know, but I have no idea how to do that. We have no idea how I did it. It just, I just a lot of, a lot of hard work and just wanting to do it, even now that I think about it, it was like we had a very, we had a borrowed Android phone.

Um, and

Andrew: Because.

Vineet: because we were broke. Well, cause we are in India,

Andrew: Got it. Wow. We all right. So they’re asking you all these questions. It finally turns from curiosity to why don’t we just acquire them?

Vineet: well, it was a offer of number of users multiplied by two or $3 and a 500 came for the founders and I think like 300 Kapor employee.

Andrew: For all the founders or for each

Vineet: Each founder, maybe 12 or 15 million. Yeah. I told you, man, I can’t see, this is, this is what, this is the thing. Like these are answers. I think, uh, there is no logical answer to it. You know, any, any

Andrew: Sure there is sure there is because you hear a lot about, uh, Mark Zuckerberg being offered a billion dollars by Yahoo, and then you could see Peter TEALS saying, we talked about it, but we talked about it very quickly in a board meeting because we knew that we were going to be even bigger. We weren’t taking it seriously.

Right? You can hear the rationale behind companies saying yes or no. You know what your rationale is, or, or maybe this is an opportunity for you to discover it, but. You should know why you said no. What is it about

Vineet: But then if I see it, then you’re going to be like, That is the, you know, but basically I think for us, it was, uh, for me personally, I think, um, the idea was we started, we started the journey of entrepreneurship to, to build something phenomenal, like, be that

Andrew: You had a vision of doing something much bigger than this. Okay. I get that. I had an opportunity once to sell my greeting card business for 70 $500 million. I forget the number, but I still have the paper somewhere because I have the paper because. I wanted to be so much bigger than that, that the paper would seem laughable.

Then when I wasn’t doing very well, I said, what the hell did I do? And that was the symbol of, Hey Andrew, you’ve got to just wake up and can recognize that a million dollars is worth something. And 75 is worth a whole lot. I was, I was basically mourning it years later. Did you ever get to a point where you said, no, you don’t, you don’t, you never got to a point where you said, why did I do this?

Why’d I make that mistake? No.

Vineet: no,

Andrew: Okay, because,

Vineet: it doesn’t bother me, man. It really doesn’t. Uh, you know, there are several, there were several opportunities after that also to sell. I mean, the reason that we recently had an acquisition offer from a large real estate company, um, Like I said, I think the, I think who, I don’t know somebody, I was talking to, I D I was talking to a customer today and he said they were trying to, they said, would you be interested in acquisition?

And I said, yeah, No, because the only reason we want to do this be either be really big or we vanquish like beat, like soldiers, you know? Like we want to get out of it either dead. Yeah. That’s it. There’s there’s no, there’s no, there’s no rationality. It’s kind of a romantic, um, veil of living. And

Andrew: Okay.

Okay, so you didn’t, you continued creating it. You turned it from this social network around, uh, immersive photos into what, what was next for the business?

Vineet: Um, well I think at that time, um, The bee got into a program in Chile, um, called startup Chilean. So we moved to Sheila¬† and that’s when I decided that we are not going down to venture capital around. I think we realized that as much as I would want, uh, to build a large company, I wanted to do it on my terms.

Um, I realized that, um, there is a certain. Uh, kissing the ring kind of thing with VC VC VC world, where it’s not very Metro country, where there is a little bit of, uh, I’m usually, I’m sure you you’re a San Francisco, you know what I’m talking about. Um, and I’m just not that. I’m just not that kind of guy.

And so I said, okay, how do we get to a stage where we are building phenomenal products, technology products, and we are also being sustainable. So we went down the path from there on, from 2014 to be a sustainable revenue generating company. So we, and so we did that. We were able to regenerate revenue. We were able to raise some, uh, seed fund, not seed fund, but like equity.

Uh, equity free money from startup, Chile from Panama team. Um, and they were doing really well to tell the arc. It became really big. And so we then launched a product for delivering VR experiences. Bitch got a lot of attention when VR was getting big, you know, we ran ads for some large companies. We. At that point from a views perspective in VR or in three 60, the three 60 video, three 60 space.

We were, I think third or fourth largest Um,

So, if you go to our app, you see that’d be on one of three 60 videos in our app. And so at that point, people who were trying to say three 60 videos, that people were trying to distribute three 60 content. So I don’t know if you remember, but New York times and Samsung, all these people were doing new century 60 videos because VR was very hyped up at that point.

You know, companies that have raised a hundred million dollars, um, at it

to distribute that content and also to, to use our technology, to distribute videos on their sites,

Andrew: how did you get them?

Vineet: uh, I email them.

Yeah. I mean, obviously a warm intro. I mean, I would go on LinkedIn, someone who’s connected to them, you know, kind of hone them, um, was just gotta do what you gotta attend. Yeah. I mean, I’ll take you back to this. This is a good story. I’ll tell you a good story. Alright, so I was working so after I graduated Cornell, I worked, I offered, I quit my PhD at MIT.

I joined a company called Terra cycle. don’t know if the founder has been on your show, but tennis nickel is run, but he was. Oh shit. Yeah. Zacky that guy. So I want to turn a cycle.

Andrew: I had this interesting experience where someone was coming after me and I, and I went to Tom Zacky and he got, he got really protective of, of me. And so he got, he introduced me to his lawyer and his lawyer said, hang on, Tom is a little bit too protective here. Let’s talk rationally here. Um, but. He was really a good person.

I wish I’d reached out to him sooner when I had the issue. His whole thing is, um, I can’t talk about it. I hate saying I can’t talk about it, but it was someone who sued me. Uh, the range was a seriously, the range was like a few thousand dollars, less than five, maybe a few hundred, but it was, I got you.

Can’t start Sue me. I got all angry about it, really seriously angry about it. And then the only person who was angry about me getting sued was Tom zackey. He got angrier about it than I was. So we just go back, we’re still, I’m still back and forth with this person over nothing. But I refuse to, I refuse to give in for a few hundred bucks, I got, I got the fighting for this.

I got

Vineet: Was this on the podcast.

Andrew: no, it was off. It was some, uh, I’ll tell you what it is. I’ll tell exactly what it is. I took a photo. I actually, he sent me a photo of himself. Once the interview was done, I posted it on the site. Somehow somebody else’s photo of him was on my side. I don’t know how I acknowledge that.

I could have made a mistake, a contract. You could have made a mistake. I don’t know if it was me. I don’t post anything. I just don’t want to take that. I don’t want to, like, I don’t want to shove the blame somewhere else I acknowledge is my fault. If it was on, I don’t even know how was it could even have gone on.

Anyway, I get sued for this fricking thing. It seems ridiculous. I’m not making money off of this. It’s clearly mistake in the guy. Anyway, we’d go back. Yeah. The only person angry on my behalf is Tom Zacky. So I appreciate it. Um, but I, I kept going and fighting on it myself and I’ll continue to fight till I die.

I think about it. Or maybe I’ll have a rational moment go, Andrew. This is not, you don’t need to fight everything. Um, And I should say for people who are listening, the beautiful thing about Tom Zacky, as he said, look, I want to see a world where people recycle and more importantly than recycle, recycle is where you break apart old stuff, and you turn the material into something.

He wants ups cycle, where you take old, uh, containers. And you make new things out of them, like new bags and so on. It’s better. Anyway, that’s his thing. And he said, no one, no, one’s going to care about my mission to save the world and the environment. Unless I make a product that’s better for them than the thing that hurts the environment.

They’re not going to buy because it’s from purity of heart. They’re going to buy because it’s a better product. I respect so much of what he said. You work for him, continue with your story. I just diverted us, by the way, it helps to ask a question a couple of times. Cause I started off by saying, I’m not going to tell you, I can’t talk about it.

It’s a lawsuit, whatever. comes out. So. This is why I asked, Oh, those techniques are good.

Vineet: All right. So, so I went to work, basically. I was, I went to a program at MIT and Tom Zachary came to speak and there, and I told him that his company was a PR shop. Um, and he’s like, Oh, do you want a job? I said, yes. And so I went to work in his company as a BD guy. And until then I was purely. It technology guy.

I was, I wouldn’t say dark, but I was like, I think more into engineering and biology and chemistry than actually making any sales, talking to customers, any of that. And he hired me to be the assistant to the CEO. And I was, I said, okay. I mean, he was just a phenomenal guy. Like he’s, you know, you know, I don’t work at his company anymore, but I love my time there.

And so much to learn from him. Like the way he pitches is an excellent, excellent sales guy. And so I would just sit in his room all day, listening to him pitch. And then one day he just takes his entire folder and he just gives it to me. And it’s like, This is yours now. It’s like, yeah, you, you take care of all the leads and you run with them and I’m not to, I’m going to be okay. And so I became the main BD guy for terrace.

Andrew: Ah, and that’s how you learn later on how to do business development, BD for your own business. Got it. Okay. Can I ask you something that’s a little bit, you, you know me well enough that you won’t be hurt by this.

Vineet: okay.

Andrew: when you’re calling people up. Don’t

Vineet: Right, right, right, right. So that’s what I was going to say. Yeah. I was going to tell you,

Andrew: up.

Go ahead.

Vineet: So that’s what I was, that’s where the story was going to go. Um, So I suck at it and big time I wasn’t making any progress for two months. I couldn’t close a deal. And then Tom comes once into my cabinets. Like, yo, you gotta close deals or I’ve gotta let you go.

So I go to the Walmart, I buy a phone, I buy a mirror and I put a mirror in front of me and I keep fake phones. Cause at that time you didn’t have like cell phones. You had an old phone and. All I would do is pick up the phone and like, cause I started reading books about like how you can just smile when you’re talking so that it feels as, as, you know, as, as, as an engineering graduate, you don’t know.

Right. And so, and I went from being absolute trash in my job. Uh, two closing, I think like 35, $40 million deals. Like even today, the biggest deals test, test cycle runs our deals. I close with Unilever and Paul and all these guys,

Andrew: of one.

Don’t give me the name of the company,

Vineet: Oh yeah. Okay. It’s a company that does a product that has to do with milk.

They run, they run campaigns in, um,

Andrew: Okay. Oh, okay. And so what did you do? This is where they collect the milk cartons. Right. And

Vineet: Yeah. So basically, basically what happened was this lady shows up at the terrorist cycle headquarters with a bag of like milk

Andrew: I think he told me

Vineet: you just. Can you do something with this? Oh, he said, the association is that, can you do that? Can you do something with this? And I was like, I wasn’t there there’s other guy who would find it, gets her in.

And we start talking, I start talking to her. I was like, okay, what do you do? Would you say I’m an ed straighter. She was really passionate. So using her passion, you know, I went to like the destroyed and then I kind of like moved up to get them in here and close the deal. So

Andrew: But this was you saying, I, now you guys then partnered up with the school system to have them collect these, these containers for you, these milk containers, and then Terra cycle used them to create new products. Got it. Okay. So what you’re saying to me is the reason that you got. Good at business development is because he forced you to, you watched him do it.

And then to me, more significantly, you got yourself, a mirror and a phone, and you just practice to yourself over and over and over again. Okay. Got it. I’m with you. So that’s how you were able to do all these deals. These deals, eventually it, your business transitioned away from those deals to, to a software that anyone could use with an upsell.

How did you transition to that? What happened?

Vineet: So basically we are crashed. And what we were doing at that point was we had signed up deals with some large companies, that one, 1.2, a million dollars, if these deals would go through. So basically we had trials and post-trial, this was the pricing and all of that stuff was there. So V V took the brunt of the cost for the trials because we ran the servers and San Jose expensive.

So we started whatever money we had saved up. From my 2014 or 2016, putting into these, into this new product. Um, we hire new people to run the product and we thought, okay, this is going to go, you know, VR is going to be the thing. And it just didn’t. And so all the companies that have signed up with us said, we’re not going to go ahead with it.

We are sorry. So we had some money into servers. We had barn too on our free credits. Also, uh, we had, uh, burned on our reserve cash and we hadn’t focused on monetizing the community because we just thought we were going to go this. And so. You know, we were in that in a really bad position in 2017. Posted your crash, which is coming back to the Luxembourg issue where, you know, we had amazing technology.

We had grit systems, we just haven’t didn’t have customers. And B also had this amazing community that we had not. A monetized I’d be head nod, created a business model around our entire community for since 2012, till 2016 was literally free. Like we didn’t charge for anything. Um, so then from 2017 onwards, we started like reworking the app and putting in that purchases or running AB tests.

And by that time, our RPA DEMA dwindled down, uh, you know, lethargic had kind of set in, um, it was tough to motivate people, uh, at that point, uh, cause they had seen it like they’ve seen the struggles, you know? And so 2017 was very things kind of changed for us. Uh, we. Uh, you know, that that phase was where I think a lot of our employees kind of bonded.

We felt strong in the, in the face of struggle and B then got funding from UNICEF, which again, came as a, I guess I was telling this is what the customers were like, every time we decide our company’s gonna die, somebody just comes and gives us.

Um, so we had built a. A, a open source project called remix. We are in our spare time and UNICEF innovation wanted to fund the companies that were building open source technologies in innovative, uh, directions. Like we are drones, they are Bitcoin and all that stuff, basically innovative technology so that all of these new technologies don’t get stuck within these large companies.

And it’s accessible to everybody. And so they gave us a hundred K to basically build that out. So I think on my LinkedIn profile, you’ll see remix the R

Andrew: I didn’t, um, I don’t think I did, but I see it on the website here. Remix Right. Okay. All right. So dad helped you continue before we continue with the story at your height. Can we talk about that?

Vineet: think it was 1.2.

Andrew: 1.2. So this is why 2016, 2016. Then you go to nothing from that. You, you almost go out of business. Luxembourg gives you a hundred thousand dollars. Great. That gets you new life. You continue, you experiment a little bit. You end up with something called remix VR. That gets you how much another a hundred from a.

100 from UNICEF. So then UNICEF gives you another lifeline. Meanwhile, you’re pivoting your business and you end up with an app that anyone can use to create a three 60 experience,

Vineet: We

Andrew: you, uh, you always had it.

Vineet: monetized it

Andrew: what year did you decide we’re going to add upsell to this 2017 when you needed the money, you did it.

Why were you so big on Android, much bigger than you were on a, on an iOS

Vineet: Uh, I think it has to do mostly bid B. We could never get two reasons. One is, uh, we had to build a better capture than the native iOS to, to succeed. than the iOS capture.

Andrew: because iOS comes with a panoramic view. But panoramic is different from three 60. I could see the technology is very similar, right. But with three 60,

Vineet: Well, but it’s, the capture is the same as the, you know, it has to be that good know it has to be. So the Android thing, uh, we have kind of like, you know, it’s a motion where you kind of stop, take a photo, stop, take a photo. It’s all automatic, but it’s not as panning the way iOS has it. So if we had, if we had to attract.

Customer from iOS to use our app. That’s the quality of end of Hindu and that’s Apple and ADAS in built in their phone. So if you can,

Andrew: Okay. It’s still not the same, but I guess I get what you’re saying. You’re saying it’s close enough that people aren’t going to pay us 60 bucks a year to get this. All right. So that’s how you built up on Android. And then last year you had the most revenue from this and that’s when COVID hit. And that’s when you realize, you know, I think there’s another market for it.

And the next market is virtual tours. I got, I got really deep into three 60 cameras for awhile because I was running my marathons last year, seven marathons, seven continents. I got myself have a three 60 camera on a selfie stick that the camera disappears on Insta three 60. Does this beautiful thing.

It’s amazing the way it does it. And then, um, it allowed me, for example, to run holding this three 60 camera and there was like a drone shot of me running. A lot of times people will have these drone shots or what looked like drone shots or these follow cameras. It feels like someone’s falling with a camera.

It turns out just a three 60 camera that they’re just kind of holding or attaching to themselves. That’s what I did in order to learn how to do it. How to use it. Right. I looked on YouTube and I saw this whole community of people who do three 60 photos, including this one guy ban. I forget his last name who teaches PE.

Yeah. I love that guy from Australia. He teaches people how to create these virtual tours. And he gets paid by offices to do this. And then he said, as you could get paid by, uh, real estate brokers to do their, uh, their homes. And so this is what you’re seeing. You’re saying, look, no one needs to buy an Insta three 60 camera.

They don’t need to do all this other stuff. They don’t need the pole. They don’t need the expertise, just use our app and you’ll get it, put it on and you’ll be able to sell on pound pounding on the table, but that’s it right?

All right. And you got money in the bank. Now I keep coming back to money. You do know, you personally forget the company.

You personally do have enough. Yes.

Vineet: It doesn’t upset me. I mean, it is a, uh, I don’t know. I’ve never been that kind of guy. I don’t know. It was just never upset at me.

Andrew: and your vision is if you could just make this thing work well, Help people and then be able, do you still want to donate the money to,

Vineet: Yeah. I mean, I think there are two things I want to do one as a, maybe there’s something in cancer or something in that space. And then the other is climate stuff. So basically buy more Amazon

Andrew: and keep them from getting torn down?


Vineet: they can follow me on Twitter at we need them via,

Andrew: That’s probably the best thing. And then of course, teleport it’s, it’s teleport Right. And in every, uh, basically every software store Right. That’s what I should say. All right.

What’s the it’s it’s not, well, let me see. I got it right here. It’s called. Oh, you’re right. It’s called P three 60.

Vineet: App store optimization optimization.

Andrew: what’s the P three 60 for app store. Oh. Because people are searching for that. That’s the keyword you want. And you said, you know what, if we’re going to really nail those keywords, we should just call our company. Got it. And that’s why you were able to say with such confidence, Andrew, just search for Panorama three 60 and you’ll see us in there in the app store.

Got it. All right. now it’s what one? No, it’s almost two. O’clock your time. Isn’t it. But

Vineet: Right.

Andrew: dude, two in the morning for everyone. Who’s listening. Thank you so much for staying up late with me. You bet. Bye bye everyone.

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