VR-Innovations will be presenting the series “Portraits of VR-Innovations” in the coming weeks. In this series we will be interviewing the four founders of VR-Innovations. How are they and made them decide to start a business? This week we spoke to CEO Tobias Gerrits. Let’s see what he had to say.
Have you always wanted to work in technology?
Ever since I was little, I’ve always been interested in technology and especially computers. From playing video games to following two educations in computer science this interest has always been a big part of my life.
What kind of student were you?
I liked doing my best in classes, but only if they were of interest to me. I can get really involved in a subject if the topic interests me. Classes that I didn’t like I always passed by doing the bare minimum. I liked being the leader in group projects and letting people accelerate in their own role. Mixing the interests and capabilities of other students in such a way that everyone can look back at a successful project where they could shine.
During college you co-founded VR-Innovations, tell us the process of starting a business whilst still a college.
It started with a minor where we were introduced to virtual reality. We had an enthusiastic group that soon realised that VR was mostly used in gaming. We thought this was a big waste of it’s true potential and started discussing ways of how we could show the world there was a lot more to it. There were aspects that made it easier to start a company whilst still in college. There was support and people we could connect with easily who could offer their advice. But at the same time, it was very hectic. We had to juggle assignments, exams and grow from a startup to a professional company all at the same time.
What are you most proud of in terms of project or other accomplishments?
I’m most proud of sticking together as a group even though we had some rough times starting a company at a relatively young age whilst still in college. We all have the mindset that we want to succeed, even if it would be hard. A lot of other startups will try but fail once it gets hard. After a while the discussions start to happen and the relationships between the different co-founders is getting worse. We always managed to maintain a healthy balance between being friends and being professionals. This means being upfront and not being afraid of pushing others to the next level. We still have a lot to learn but I’m very proud of what we accomplished in the past 2 years. We have grown as a business but just as important we have all grown as a people. I believe the reason we made good changes, career wise and personally, is because we were under a lot of stress but always pressed on.
What moments were a real eye opener, what did you learn from it?
People will tell you; you need to have fun and passion in what you do if you want to succeed. I agree with this. But at the same time, it will take hard work. Being successful isn’t just about “doing what makes you happy.” I think in the long run you need to have a goal and a vision of what you want to be like and where you want to go. A goal that hopefully will paint a picture of a better, more successful and of course a happier self.
But to get there you need to realise you can’t just put every waking hour into doing what you love. Realise it will be a mix of hard work, disappointment and endurance before you’ll get where you want to be. Getting there in the end will be even more joyful if you had to work hard for it. Because, it will allow you to grow and learn from your failures. The best way to learn is to fail. I think every entrepreneur must have this mindset. If you are not afraid to fail, then every day can truly be a learning experience. You’ll either reassure what you are doing is the right way, or you will find ways to improve.
How do you relax after a busy week of work?
I like to work out in the gym. It’s been a serious hobby, or maybe I can even say a lifestyle of over 10 years now. But I also like to keep the balance by drinking a few (or more) glasses of wine in the weekend and chilling out with some movies and good company. I also like to eat a few tubs of Ben & Jerry’s a week. I usually don’t share those and eat them in one go, but I’m trying to share more. Maybe I should just buy multiple so I can make everyone happy?
What are your big dreams?
Growing the company. Right now, we are still a young company full of hopes and dreams. I want to realise those dreams and become a market leader. Right now, we make software for VR and AR use cases. My dream is to keep doing this, but on a bigger scale. Maybe even develop cutting-edge hardware that can support us when our ambitions become too big for what’s currently possible with modern hardware. It’d be cool to get very close to a real-life Matrix environment. Of course, a bit less cinematic and more about simulation for learning purposes, but you get the idea.
What tips and tricks can you give to other entrepreneurs that are just starting?
Love to fail. Love to learn and don’t give up. Reflect upon yourself and keep asking if the current path your walking is the right one. It takes great spirit to admit when you are wrong but do it before it’s too late. The day and age where you can simply stick to one working formula is over. You need to learn to adept and play into the opportunities that almost seem to change day by day in this fast-changing world.