Warren Woon and Adrian Oliveiro had big plans for iGO; a tech solutions provider to physical events in the lifestyle and entertainment space that both co-founded. Before the company had a chance to take flight, the pandemic hit. Physical events that they were slated to run were abruptly cancelled and they were left stranded.
They could have taken the easy route; to fold the company and cut their losses when they still could. But the Singaporeans who had left their steady jobs to be their own bosses were not ready to back down.
Woon and Oliveiro fast-forwarded their plans and jumped on the virtual bandwagon in 2020. They pivoted the business from iGO to Xctuality – Singapore’s first provider of virtual experiential solutions.
Xctuality Interactive immerses audiences in 360 interactive experiences and offers content targeted at Lifestyle and Entertainment, as well as Sports and Hospitality sectors. Its most recent creation is a production with homegrown multi-talented personality Hossan Leong, together with Raffles Hotel, in The Curious Case of the Missing Peranakan Treasure where the audience is tasked to solve a who-done-it mystery gameplay.
Xctualyfe, on the extreme end, is Xctuality’s gateway to the Metaverse, which was officially launched on October 3, 2022. Xctualyfe is Singapore’s first home-grown Metaverse platform where users can connect from around the world in a virtual environment, which is how Zoomers and Millennials are consuming digital content. Woon explains: “The virtual economy that will be created in the Metaverse will be worth trillions of dollars in the coming years and it will also become the next great labour platform where there will be jobs that only exist in the Metaverse and not in the physical world. Together, our two products represent the next evolution in social networking that connects people with immersive experiences.”
The co-founders’ vision and years of on-the-ground events management experience for renowned cultural events and festivals such as the F1 Singapore Grand Prix, Streets Food Festival and National Day Parade 2020, had cemented Xctuality’s positioning in the scene, bringing the company’s value to over $10 million today.*
Big plans, big brands
According to Woon, who is also the company’s CEO, Xctuality Interactive is currently actively working with several clients from the lifestyle, entertainment, and performing arts. Those names include Singapore Tourism Board, National Arts Council, People’s Association, National Heritage Board, Far East Hospitality, Roche Diagnostic, 1Play Sports, Asian Geographic, and Unique Event and Exhibition.
Xctualyfe, on the other hand, is in the process of signing commercial agreements and MOUs with several direct B2C sales, B2B organizations, and gaming platforms. Overall, the company is expanding into Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam.
The only way is forward
This is a stark contrast to their position during the pandemic.
How did they go from zero to hero? Looking back on their tumultuous journey, Woon and Oliveiro admitted that it was a combination of pure determination and grit. In addition, the funding they received from BRDGE, a Peer-to-Peer crowdfunding platform that bridges SMEs to investors, built a strong foundation for them to pivot and scale up.
“We were a startup. We knew we needed capital to get the business going so we decided to take a loan with BRDGE. But when the pandemic hit shortly after, things got dire very quickly and the funds from BRDGE became our lifeline,” said Woon.
“BRDGE made it easy with a straightforward application process and a helpful team that guided us. Most importantly, we were given a chance as a startup to prove our worth, to prove that there is real potential for business growth, and that someone was going to support our vision. We had a hard time getting this elsewhere.”
Going to the banks for a loan was out of the question for the co-founders. During that period, they were incorporated as iGO and the startup had no substantial operational track record to show, which would have not met with the criteria of taking a bank loan, aside from other mandatory factors.
“With BRDGE, the process was quick. It was a matter of a few paperwork to assess the company’s history, paid-up capital, company’s bank balance, and overall credibility and having investors believe in us,” added Woon.
The company’s request for a loan was $100,000 with a loan tenure of six months. Within one day of their investment opportunity going up on BRDGE’s platforms, both the app and website, more than 70 investors had fully invested in their portfolio. While the company was assessed to be in the category of higher risk, the returns also reflected that, promising investors 15% interest per annum.
The co-founders received the requested funding of $100,000 from BRDGE within seven days. And those funds are instrumental in Xctuality’s success today.
On the plans for the future, Woon explained: “Together with our two products: Xctuality Interactive and Xctualyfe, we are building the next evolution of social networking that connects people with immersive experiences. This next-level ecosystem includes Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR) and other critical interactive elements to help brands and creators accelerate into the metaverse and beyond. We see ourselves as the bridge between between brands, creators, and consumers to provide a more engaging virtual experience.”