So I just watched a video of what PO-MO co-founder Meghan Athavale said was their “coolest project”–an art exhibit where kids can draw eggs, scan them into the program, and then hatch and interact with their computerized animals–and all I can say is I WANT ONE. Apparently, if I had enough cash, I could even get something similar from their website, where they offer interactive floors, scenes, and games. Who wants to start paying me more to write?
This innovative startup develops interactive exhibits, for everything from advertisements to children’s museums to concerts. They’re integrating design and tech in a way that is seriously taking things to a whole new level. Do yourself a favor, when you’re done reading Meghan’s hilarious interview, go watch a few of their videos. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
How’d you come up with the name for your company?
PO-MO is short for Post Modern. It was the name of the artistic style I used when I first started doing visuals for shows. I combined retro porn and imagery from the Hindu comic books I was given as a child to help me learn about my family’s religious background.
What’s the very first thing you do at work everyday?
I feed the office pet. She’s a leopard gecko named Spot, but we recently started calling her Scott. She seems okay with either name.
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
I started the company by myself. It was called Pomoproject and I did visuals for bands and Djs. After about a year I got tired of hanging out in bars and wanted to do something more challenging then impressing drunk people, so I hooked up with Curtis Wachs, a programmer, and we started creating interactive exhibits together. We incorporated together in 2010 and now the company is five people.
Remember the early days starting up? Maybe you can share one anecdote that describe the struggle you went through?
Curt and I were hired to do visuals at the river barge festival. We thought it would be a great idea to build a huge mist screen and project holographic images on it. After weeks of work and many nights where Curt was up to his knees in mud, we created a huge frame that shot high pressure water in a 20 foot screen. It looked great, but Curt was muddy for about a month. We have a high pressure water pump in case you know anyone who needs one.
How do you handle frustration? When/how was the last time you dealt with frustration?
My only real frustration is that our location makes it difficult to find the opportunities that I feel our company deserves. I deal with it by traveling a lot and talking to a lot of people about what we can do. The positive responses and awards we win regularly help keep us thinking positive.
What’s your office environment like? Is it the kind of place where everyone is bumpin’ away to house music or is it more traditional?
We are definitely not a traditional office environment. We’re all friends. We hang out after work, and we spend a lot of our awake time working on and talking about our goals. Work has become my social life. It’s amazing to be in a position where we get to work on something we love with our friends.
How do you picture your company in 5 years?
We are in the process of automating our end user software, and creating silos so that when we have to scale, the original startup culture can be preserved. In 5 years we expect to be a worldwide brand in interactive advertising display software, and we also expect to be working on something much bigger to support the clients who are using our platform.
Who or what inspires YOU? Role models? Quotes? Running? Video games? Snack food? Give us the deets, lady!
I am incredibly inspired by the series ‘Otherland‘ by Tad Williams. Anything you want to learn about what we want to do in the future can be learned by reading that series. Except we won’t build a giant neural network with fetus brains. That’s gross. Also, I just spoiled the plot. But you should still read the books.
How’d you fund this venture? VC? Self-funding? Crowd-funded? Where’d you get the money, man?
We were the first company in Manitoba to receive the Canadian Media Fund’s experimental stream funding. We also took out small business loans through CYBF and BDC when we were starting. Since then we have also received angel funding.
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
Enter every contest. Blog a lot. Post a ton of videos about what you do. Always always think about your company’s story, because you can build so much more value in your company that way.
What would you be doing if you had one year off and $500,000 to spend (and you couldn’t spend it on your current startup / projects)
I’d build an earthship.
Do you consider yourself a successful entrepreneur right now? If not, what’s it gonna take to make you feel successful?
We’re successful because we’re still here. We’ll feel successful when we are financially stable and able to grow.
Website you couldn’t live without and why?
I couldn’t live without Google Maps. I don’t know if that counts as a website, but I can say with certainty I would still be lost in France somewhere without it.
Mobile App you’re in love with and why?
I love looking at pets for sale on kijiji. I don’t want a pet, but reading their little stories is really fun.
Dogs or cats?
I have a 20 year old cat named Quentin and the office has a leopard gecko.
iOS or Android?
What’s the greatest thing about your company/website/idea?
We have made it possible for teachers in India to bring interactive projection software into the classroom, and our software is being used in sensory rooms to help kids with autism. Advertising companies pay our bills, but kids and teachers keep us focused on making products that are useable and affordable.
Where can our readers get ahold of you? Facebook? Twitter? Google+? Personal blog? Any other projects you’re working on that we should check out?