After an exciting 2 weeks in Barcelona launching Aqua! by TwinWorld, the team is back in Seoul to reflect on the highs, the lows, and the overwhelming amount of paella we consumed. Here are 4 key life lessons we learned.
What a journey! Our team recently got back to South Korea after launching Aqua! by TwinWorld in Barcelona, and while we're missing the food and the people we met along the way (at a safe, sanitized social distance), we've had a lot of time to think back about what we've learned.
For this program, we had a big task ahead: successfully launch our app, a colorful underwater mixed reality experience for mobile devices and the HoloLens 2, at Glòries mall in Barcelona.
Our company, DoubleMe, was one of five South Korean start-ups selected for a startup support program launched by SBA (Seoul Business Agency) and KITA (Korea International Trade Association). We developed the app for this overseas proof-of-concept (PoC) testbed program to enhance the mall's retail experience using the real-world metaverse.
Not to brag, but our app transforms a 150-meter-long, 13-meter wide space inside the shopping center into a virtual aquarium. After downloading the app, users can interact in real-time as life-sized custom avatars, decorate and explore underwater worlds, and take photos and videos to share with friends.
Overall, we're so proud of Aqua's launch - the app was well received by both press and the public - but it didn't come without overcoming some obstacles. So, we wanted to share our advice and learnings from our overseas business trip with the rest of you!
1. Preparation is key to success.
We knew that we had a LOT of prep work to do for this trip for it to be a success. Launching an app is one task, but doing it during COVID-19 was a challenge on an entirely different level.
There were a lot of moving parts to track – would the app be ready in time? Would the promotional materials be printed? Would we get the necessary COVID-19 documents to even get on the plane?
So, in the event of a last-minute business trip during a pandemic, our best advice is to create bulleted lists and print out everything. Keep track of what you can, because if you’re rushing and relying on memory alone, there will be gaps.
Check your passport, update your vaccinations, prepare as much of your itinerary in advance as you can. Get travel insurance and look into visas. Check your adapters and prepare plenty of extra K-94 masks.
Whatever spare time you have, invest in learning about the history, culture, and customs of the countries to be visited. It’s good to know at least a few phrases in the local language, even if it’s just “I’m sorry.”
The more you prepare, the better off it will be – for both you and your company.
2. Everything happens for no reason – so be flexible.
No matter how well you prepare, you can always expect the unexpected. Solving all these issues all depends on keeping an open mind and a level head.
For example, the first day we tested the app in the mall, the free internet was too slow for anything to load. We had our 4G SIM cards prepared, only to find out the basement only received 3G WIFI. The HoloLens app didn’t stand a chance.
We evaluated our options – rent a mobile router? Scale down the app? Burst into tears? Instead, we decided to not rely on the mall WIFI and get another SIM card with a different mobile network. Success!
There were a lot of little hiccups along the way, but going with the flow and anticipating that not everything would go according to plan was key. Here were a few of our issues:
The journalist brought his son along, and now the entire demo was focused on making this young boy happy and interested in the app. The solution? Give this young man the time of his life.
The app was well-received, and the mall wanted to keep it installed for longer than the time frame we announced. The solution? Announce the good news, and quickly change all the marketing materials and app descriptions to reflect the new dates.
There are some things you can prepare for, and some things you can’t. The best thing is to just roll with the punches and keep things in perspective.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help - and always say thank you!
When you’re a foreigner in another country with a language barrier, or merely traveling somewhere new and unfamiliar, it’s important to use the resources you have around you and never be afraid to seek help if you need it. While self-reliance is a virtue, learning how to ask for (and accept) help is perhaps one of the greatest skills you can develop.
We were heavily reliant on our HR team to help us navigate all the international rules for traveling safely during COVID-19.
We were greatly assisted by the Glòries mall staff, who graciously lent us office space for the week and a mobile hotspot for demos when our SIM cards were failing.
The local consulting company, OASTA, always came through with quality recommendations, from hospitals to take our PCR tests, to videographers to document the experience, to tourist sites to enjoy on our days off.
And of course, we would never have been able to do any of this without the hard work of the developers who made Aqua!
It's important to be upfront and communicate clearly what you need and be grateful for the generosity if you receive it. The worst anyone can say is no!
4. Aqua! by TwinWorld is for everyone!
You didn't think we could end this article without a shameless plug, right?
The highlight of the trip was meeting all the people who came to the mall and introducing them to the app. While people were a little hesitant at first, soon, mall-goers aged young and old were all enjoying the real-world metaverse.
This young boy was even already dressed for the part, sporting a mask with aquatic creatures!
He said that liked the shark the most and that he wants to come back and try it again with his friends.
Overall, we received a lot of valuable user feedback from watching everyone play. Our team is already working on the next update to accommodate their suggestions.
Overall, we are very proud of our collaboration with Glòries, and we look forward to what the future holds for DoubleMe and Aqua! in Spain.
We are very grateful for our partners at SBA (Seoul Business Agency) and KITA (Korea International Trade Association, as well as Glòries and OASTA, in making everything come together.
We're glad we took the plunge into this new market, and we hope these tips help you along your way! Life really does look better underwater.
For more information, you can check out our full press release here on our launch.