May 9, 2017
Working in the film and event industry for many years, Taylor Freeman decided to put his career on hold and travel around Europe reflecting on what is important and discovering his true passion, technology.
“My real passion was around technology, user experience and providing great experiences for people through digital mediums,” Taylor said.
Taylor returned home and dove into learning web development and design on his own. He ended up building a digital agency that did everything from custom apps and web development to branding and digital marketing. During this time, Taylor began to read about Facebook's Oculus acquisition and wondered what that technology could bring to the world.
“I’ve always been super into hardware tech and future technology and the only way I could think of actually getting my hands on a headset was to start a meetup group,” Taylor said.
At his first event, 70 people ended showing up bringing headsets for people to try out – that was a turning point for Taylor.
“I saw so many different applications for virtual reality in education, entertainment, mental health and communication,” he said.
Taylor went all in and ended up selling his agency to pursue VR and AR and build a community that celebrates and creates this technology.
“That really manifested into us doing events. We’d try to go bigger and show more people VR. We started traveling to Sundance and SXSW and these shows with awesome companies, but no one was writing about it,” Taylor said.
And Upload was born.
Taylor, along with cofounder Will Mason, started pushing out content through social media and share what was happening in the industry. The company caught the attention of investor from China and secured a seed-funding round around $1.5 million. Taylor then set up shop in San Francisco to further his mission.
“San Francisco was designed to be a hub for all things VR and AR to legitimize the industry and give it a home,” he said.
The Bay Area space is designed to be a collaborative environment for now over 45 VR/AR companies to work and grow their business. To date they’ve hosted over 250 events and continue to expose new people to VR.
Education became a large facet within the space and focus for Taylor. Upload has since partnered with large corporations and General Assembly to teach people development, design skills needed to build VR and AR technology.
“We’re shifting from a 2D human-computer interface to a 3D human computer interface. We’re just scraping the surface of what it means to experience the world in 3D,” Taylor said.
Upload recently announced the opening of their next location Upload LA in Marina Del Ray, CA, a 20,000-square-foot space, equipped with the state-of-the-art virtual reality technology and coworking space for more than 100 companies to work in harmony.
Summit Mount Everest from your couch in VR here
Within the walls there will also be premium VR and AR technology including a mixed reality capture studio, 3D human scanning booth, VR demo rooms, classrooms, private offices and workspace, a podcast/media studio and more. This location will become the headquarters for Upload.
They have also secured exclusive representation by talent agency WME, to increase the interaction between entertainment and immersive reality industries. WME will be a medium to connect Upload with community influencers, directors, producers, talent and global brands to introduce new technology to consumers.
“We’re building an all-inclusive ecosystem so that the talent has direct access to the companies and [vice versa]. Everyone is learning from each other and the corporate partners are looking for acquisition, talent, [and more].” Taylor said.
At both locations, Taylor built a culture with people who are curious and freakishly passionate about emerging technology for good.
“I think the culture in the industry is one of the things that inspired me the most. People that I meet are really on a mission to use this technology to make a positive impact, which is something I stand for. We really try to make the technology feel accessible, consumer-friendly and cool, rather than just this nerdy gaming device. [We need to] continue to focus on how do we use this technology to really improve the world and our relationship with the world and technology,” Taylor said.
Read more inspiring interviews here at Tech.Co
Photos courtesy of Upload
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