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If you’ve attended a product launch, a big sale event, a movie premiere, a wide-scale virtual gathering, a wedding or a private company event in the Philippines, there’s a good chance that you’ve encountered interactive technology made by Waveplay Interactive. You can see their works almost everywhere. They’ve been featured in local noontime television shows and their crowd-favourite 360 Selfie and Glamshot Infinity has probably made its way on your social media feed at some point.
What motivated you to start your own business? What was it like starting a business with a family member? How were you able to raise funds? What were the challenges you had overcome in the beginning?
While I learned many priceless lessons from working in a corporate environment, I also realised that 9-5 desk jobs are not for me. I was optimistic about the human joystick technology’s application in the event industry, but had no connections and didn’t know where to begin. My father cringed when I told him my plans of starting an interactive experience business, mostly because he didn’t understand what I was talking about. Even so, my parents provided the funding we needed, and with two partners who are experts in creatives and R&D, we set up Waveplay Interactive.
It took us months before landing our first client, which required us to fly out of town. My dad, being protective of me, urged my brother to join the trip and since he's a gamer himself. I told him that if he's interested, there's room for one more partner. He has since been a great addition to the team, heading up operations. It was challenging to offer a new concept in 2011, when innovation wasn't a requirement for events because those standards haven't been set.
Our big break came when we presented to the Creative Director of the Philippines’s longest-running noontime show who was very open to new ideas and soon after, Waveplay powered the world's first interactive audience game on TV.
This was the precedent we were waiting for. At that point, whenever we show the TV project to potential clients, they go, "Oh that's you guys!" With this recall, it was the golden opportunity to amplify our momentum, so I began cold calling agencies, aggressively getting contact infos of event organisers from every booth and event I encountered. Because I knew, as soon as we get that chance to present, get them to experience our “interactives”, their eyes will open up to all the possibilities we can do together.
From 360 Selfie to Webplay Virtual Events, your company produces some of the most innovative event experiences in the Philippines. Can you tell us more about your team's creative process? How do you come up with exciting ideas and how do you make these ideas into reality?
Information from anywhere can be “idea triggers” — your social media feed, that viral meme sent to your Viber group, experiences, a podcast, conversations with clients and friends, and even the efforts of other companies. One of our client-favourite concepts is the Holo Foto.
It's the first instant holographic "polaroid" in the event industry that gives guests a retro photo souvenir, showing the brand holographically when you look at it at different angles. Holo Foto was actually inspired by a local makeup brand with stylish retro visuals. Their campaigns are cool, trendy, and it got me thinking, "If the brains behind this makeup brand were to create an interactive experience, how would they do it?" Putting myself in their shoes, Holo Foto was the output of that rumination.
What I love about our company culture is we're poised to innovate efficiently to the point that you can just list down ideas and know it's something we can launch in a few weeks' time. Our efficiency to innovate is the result of years of creating versatile technologies that can produce custom applications for unique requirements. It's in the genes of our industry to evolve over and over again, so we have to be proactive on the changing needs of our market and reinvent in advance.
What exciting technology can we expect next from your company, Waveplay Interactive?
When physical gatherings were halted due to the pandemic, the global event industry was widely affected. Many pivoted their events to webinars and Zoom, but we aspired for ways to continue creating one-of-a-kind interactive events, even in a socially distanced setting. In May of 2020, we launched Webplay, the Philippines’ first virtual events platform.
As a millennial working mum, how has technology helped you achieve work-life balance?
Our team and I have been working from home since the pandemic, and effectively at that. Our virtual venues are supported remotely with no hitches. With our toddlers' virtual schooling, I like how I can set meetings flexibly so I can join their classes. It's sometimes challenging though when they're wrestling while you're in a meeting, you can bet there were times I gave my kids the scare stare while my camera was on. Despite everything else, I will definitely continue on with virtual meetings since it works for us. Most of our recent hires have also shared as a caveat that if things go back to normal, they'd prefer to continue working from home, and I totally get why.
Name your 5 Clozette essentials.
Since I’m working from home, my meeting staple is a sleek turtleneck paired with comfy shorts. I also tend to overshop on pyjama sets. When I go out, sleeveless bodysuits and perfectly fitted mom jeans are a no brainer choice. Of course, I bring with me my eyelash curler and AlcoPlus alcohol.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.