Fluxee leverages VR technology to allow customers to better visualize and interact with their teams on development projects. Our technology enables our customers to be in the same space at the same time with their team. This leads them to visualize and deliberate potential changes and make faster decisions remotely.
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Product / Service Offering: Networked Virtual Reality Visualization
Co-Founder Interviewed: Raul Rosas
This article is part of our Business Startup Spotlight series featuring entrepreneurs and their companies. We hope that these founders’ interviews will inspire and motivate you as you undertake your own entrepreneurial journey.
Tell us a little about yourself with a focus on what motivates you.
I was born in Los Angeles, California to Mexican immigrant parents. As the oldest of 8, I grew up in a loud, crammed house, where sharing was more than caring – it was a livelihood. My father worked two full-time jobs. When he was not taking off his boots or waist support belt, I would help him sell excess produce (onions, melons, watermelons) from the morning’s pick. My mother brought home clothing material and sewed from home to increase her production for work. I learned my sickening work ethic from my father and my caring and loving nature from my mother.
Three values motivate and navigate my decisions: mentorship, education, and service. Mentorship comes from learning from other’s mistakes and growing wholly. Education is one of the many things that help level the playing field and one thing no one can take away from you. Always learning and continuously improving is what allows me to focus on a problem and motivates me to achieve more. Service is close to my heart, because I strongly believe in giving to those who may not have been as fortunate to have every opportunity I have had.
My family motives me. I want to support and offer them a better opportunity for their future. My community motivates me. I serve as an example of what can be if you focus on your goals. The Fluxee team motivates me. Their belief in me fuels me to push harder.
When did you establish your company and where did the idea originate?
Fluxee started as an idea around May 2016. Jose Sanchez was the catalyst behind our inception. The idea came after working with live streaming technology and tinkering with what could happen if we dipped into virtual reality through that same platform. The technology was not there yet for this original moonshot in live-stream. We realized we could do much more with it outside of live-stream, and Jose took the first leap of faith into a startup. Two heads are better than one, so I joined him.
Jose and I were roommates at the University of Illinois at Chicago. People say not to start a business with your friend, but for us, it was natural and organic to establish this company together.
What need or needs does your company seek to fill for its customers?
Fluxee allows customers to better visualize and interact with their teams on development projects through virtual reality. Our technology enables our customers to be in the same space at the same time with their team. This leads them to visualize and deliberate potential changes and make faster decisions remotely.
There is no doubt virtual reality is the next revolution in connectivity. We are simply making the adoption of the technology much more organic while enabling our customers to leverage virtual reality.
What is the one thing that sets your company apart from its competitors?
Fluxee has a unique ability to take existing Revit files and transform them into collaborative multi-user virtual reality spaces. It is one of many aspects of our technology that not only sets us apart from our competition, but has caught the attention of the Chicago technology community.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while getting your company up and running, and how did you overcome it?
Our biggest challenge was tapping into a larger network. Being a new startup without established relationships or contacts makes it nearly impossible to take leaps and make strides as a company. Fluxee has chipped away at that barrier by going through incubator and accelerator programs. The Hispanic Technology Incubator through 1817 and the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce was our initiation into the tech startup world. Our story begins there and grows, refines, and evolves through the elmspring Accelerator program. Both programs offered us an opportunity to grow and enabled us with the opportunity to shake hands and meet people we may otherwise have never had the chance. We are eternally grateful to 1871, IHCC (Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce), and elmspring for all that they did for us.
What resources have you utilized that other founders might find compelling or useful?
The first is obvious. Your network multiplies when you start leveraging the network of programs you are directly involved with. For us, it is 1871, IHCC, and elmspring. Even then, Fluxee cannot reap the rewards day to day. You need to establish a relationship and build their trust in you over time. Building a relationship is hard. When done properly and genuinely, they then become your champion. The goal is to become at the tip of their tongue when an opportunity crosses their path that they may not be directly impacted by – but, “Oh, I know exactly who you need to talk to!”
Having a business model that works is gold. Find a mentor who is a rock star at this. It is going to get your foot in the door for important investor meetings.
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What steps have you taken to secure funding for your company and what, if anything, would you do differently if you had to start over?
Relationships build trust, and trust makes a stronger argument for potential investors. We have been fortunate enough to be connected with strong funding sources. We are going through the steps to secure new funding now. To date, we have bootstrapped most of our funding. We have also received funding from elmspring and cash flow from sales.
If we could start over, we would organize and clean house from the start. Have funding in mind from the start and keep all governance documents properly organized, neat, clean, and readily available. Ask mentors early on if this is what a cap table is supposed to look like. Put together investor materials you can share on the spot before you need them. Setup the whole Delaware entity if it works best for your company/situation early on.
What questions have you had as an entrepreneur of a fledgling startup that you had a particularly hard time finding the answers to?
I have had a hard time finding the right questions to ask. For the most part, people are open and happy to reflect and answer any question we have. The harder part is asking the right question.
When we do think of the right questions after the fact, it may either be too late or you forget to follow up or it takes forever and a day to receive an answer.
What challenges, if any, are you grappling with?
Our challenge is getting virtual reality to work on an iPad without losing detail or fidelity.
What is the most helpful tip or “hack” you’ve ever learned, stumbled across, or been given?
Fake it till you make it. The superhero pose before going up to do a pitch helps a bit. Also, drink a little wine or have a beer or two, before going there. Helps with the nerves.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your company?
Fluxee is always open to potential collaborations and opportunities to leverage our virtual reality technology. If you know anyone curious about virtual reality and its potential in revolutionizing connectivity, reach out. We would love to have a conversation and geek out about virtual reality.
Are you familiar with other startups you believe should be spotlighted? If so, we would like to hear from you. Tell us about them in the comments below!