Daniel Norris Tells Us About A Real Place – Face To Face Non-Web Conversations
A Real Place uses the internet as a vehicle to get people in cities around the world to meet and discuss important topics. As meetings are scheduled in various cities, people are invited to join in on discussions and sit at tables to discuss items face to face. Included at each table are devices to record audio and video as well as transcribe the discussions. A Real Place’s founder, Daniel Norris, believes that the internet isn’t necessarily the most progressive of mediums for interaction and the sharing of knowledge, but in fact it’s the face to face conversation that still remains the most life changing.
Daniel Norris took the time to speak with Killerstartups about the specifics of his idea regarding A Real Place, and here’s what he shared with us :
How’d you come up with the name for your company?
It takes people a while to get what we do, at first they think we’re an internet company – and we’re definitely not! Our daughter got it immediately when I explained to her that it’s a “Real Place.” So we usually show people our website and say:
“Look -it’s a Real Place.” Then they say “It’s a website called a Real Place.” “No!!! It’s literally a Real Place – and it’s definitely not a website!” It usually helps to explain a bit more: Real face to face conversation is the best form of communication there is, so we’ve created a new patented technology that supports face-to face interaction – rather than replacing it. A Real Place is a forum – just like the Ancient Greeks had. It’s the world’s first interactive forum where people meet, talk and exchange ideas in-person. Sometimes we just say – it’s like the internet but real.
What’s the very first thing you do at work everyday?
Right now, we’re starting a start-up – so none of us yet work fulltime on a Real Place. I’m a Deputy Director of a Centre for Applied Sciences. I’ll explain about my colleagues below.
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now? There are three of us who currently work part-time on a Real Place. There’s myself (Daniel the founder). Martin Fausek is one of the UKs top 3D Artists. Martin has produced some very well known and iconic scenes for the BBC. He created the first visualization for a Real Place. Martin was given the brief to create “the forum of the future.” A place that combines ancient and modern – futuristic and human. Martin’s passion is actually interior design and for him the ultimate in 3D realization is to design a real one. There’s some irony in the fact that A Real Place started off as a CGI image on a computer!
Alison is our web designer and a Director of her own company. She’s also very passionate about a Real Place and she does her best to save me from bad design decisions. I really appreciate the fact that Alison always gets involved in the content, argues the case and frequently saves me from myself!
How do you handle frustration? When/how was the last time you dealt with frustration?
I’m very frustrated and disappointed by those self-appointed ‘internet visionaries and new media strategists’. Kids get the Real Place concept in seconds but ‘Social Media Gurus’ just don’t get it at all! They think that they’re open to new paradigms and ‘disruptive ideas’ but they’re really not. They’re often very conservative and they think that change is something that only applies to traditional real-world businesses – not to them. They wouldn’t know a disruptive idea if it bit them in the zeitgeist – and hopefully this one will! ‘Real’ always beats ‘virtual’. Perhaps they’ve spent too long in the Matrix – and it’s time to take the red pill!
What’s your office environment like?
How do you picture your company in 5 years? Forums in every city of the world. We’ll meet again in a Real Place! The most profitable area will be conferences and conventions. No one will want to be stuck in a traditional conference when they can network freely in a Real Place. Modern business is about networking – we do it online and now we can do it in a Real Place.
Who or what inspires you?
I love science and mathematics and literature that creates a pathway to the unknown. Music that’s rhythmically complex with lots of things happening at the same time on different levels (that’s Drum and Base). I like extreme nature – volcanos…rainforests… and I have a very special affinity with plants. There are two complementary life-forms on this planet:
Us and plants. I like how they make a living.
How’d you fund this venture?
We’re not funded yet! We have water-tight patents, a strong business model and I believe that history is on our side! A Real Place fulfills an unmet need. It’s something that has existed for thousands of years that we’ve lost – and it needs re-inventing. Our niche is real face-to-face communication and that’s still the most important type of communication in most areas of business today.
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
We haven’t started yet but when we’re successful it will be because we’ve created a new communications network that runs parallel to the internet. The Internet is a very crowed market – it’s saturated. If you can’t get into a crowded market then create a new one.
Do you consider yourself a successful entrepreneur right now?
If not, what’s it gonna take to make you feel successful? Of course not! All of us have successful careers already but I will be happy when there’s a real place where I can go to meet people and talk about life. Just like we’ve been doing for thousands of years. For me, that would be an interesting and stimulating way to spend an evening. That’s always been my first reference point. I will be very happy when people say about a Real Place “Its obvious – why did nobody think of it before”. Because that’s the defining characteristic of successful innovation.
Website you couldn’t live without and why?
None – Apart from the obvious ones…Google, Facebook, Wikipedia and Hospital Records Drum and Bass podcasts. I can live without the internet – and I do prefer real conversation. The best of all worlds is when we can have both options: Where you can discuss anything online and face-to-face.
Mobile App you’re in love with and why?
In London we have lots of weather and weather-conversation is the bedrock of English culture – so it has to be the Met Office App. The other fountain of all things British is the BBC and they have a great News App. I should mention that we’re launching in the US too – where a Real Place is patented!
Dogs or cats?
Dogs and marmosets
What’s the greatest thing about your company/website/idea?
Don’t get me started! Ok too late – I like the fact that it’s as much cultural innovation as technological… and that it combines ancient & modern. I think that some fascinating synergy will evolve with online media – it will extend the internet into physical space and social space creating new levels of connectivity.
Where can our readers get ahold of you?
Through our website: www.aRealPlace.com. The “For Business” page has a contact form for prospective partners and investors.