Our Exclusive Interview with Aaron Shapiro, CEO of Huge

The first in a series of in-depth interviews Roth Ryan Hayes is doing with leaders in digital and marketing. Chris Hayes sits down with Aaron Shapiro, the CEO of Huge, to talk about what’s happening now with digital technology, where it’s going, and the implication for users and marketers. Read the full interview posted May 3rd, 2017 here.

Hayes: What would you consider to be the greatest threats to staying relevant in the market for an already established business? What is most important for a startup to gain traction in that same market?

Shapiro: The way I think about this is that for any given market there’s a race. On one side you have established businesses that have the market power and resources. On the other you have startups and smaller companies that have no market share but have the necessary talent and nimbleness. The battle hinges on what happens first: does the small company build enough momentum and market share to become unstoppable, or does the big company change fast enough to stomp out the threat?  

This dynamic is playing out in every industry. If you take Huge as an example in the agency marketplace, we exist today because 10 years ago the traditional creative agencies which dominated the industry couldn’t do digital. Clients took a risk on startups like Huge and we’re now one of the fastest-growing agencies and are shaping what the industry looks like today.

Conversely, look at the wealth management space. Startups like Wealthfund and Betterment sent a shock through the industry with robo-advisor products. But companies like Charles Schwab and Vanguard are adapting fast enough to drive growth and stay on top in the industry.

Hayes: Where do you see virtual reality going forward? Will it be a revolutionary shift, or a slight change? What should brands be doing about it right now?

Shapiro: There’s obviously a ton of hype around VR right now that makes sense when you put on a headset and experience how amazing it can be. Two of the major challenges facing manufacturers and content creators are the small install base and the fact that putting on a headset is a fundamentally different way to consume content than most people are used to. Today we are used to hanging out on the couch at home to watch TV, so putting on a headset for a solo experience is very different experience, although more and more content is being watched on phones and tablets, so that may be less of a barrier for people over time.

There are some clear applications for VR in gaming and in industrial or workplace environments that make sense for specific companies to pursue right now, but for most brands the primary reason to do VR is the hype associated with it and the ancillary press you get from launching something cool. The truth is the number of people you can reach with a VR experience at the moment is very small, so it makes the most sense for reaching influencers with a very specific experience that communicates something more effectively.

It’s actually augmented reality that has the most immediate potential for most brands. We saw how something like Pokemon Go could become very popular overnight by layering digital information over the real world. For the most part, AR works on devices that people already carry around every day and can offer real utility for both consumers and businesses in all sorts of environments.

One final thing I will say about VR is that virtual reality sickness and the headaches that some people get after using these devices appears to be a real problem that affects a potentially significant part of the general population. This is similar to motion sickness or the simulator sickness that affects as many as 40% of military pilots. When most people try on VR headsets, they aren’t using them for more than a couple minutes, so it’s not impossible that the physiological barriers many people experience could hamper widespread adoption in the coming years.

More questions and answers can be found at the original article here.