Hi Tristan, thanks so much for joining us! To get started, please give us an overview of your background.
I was born and raised in Palo Alto, California, where I grew up in a laid-back environment. My mother and my stepfather were Stanford graduates, and my mother worked as an administrator at the university, which gave me ample opportunity to explore the campus and its surroundings as a child.
My father was a meditator who introduced me to meditation and Eastern philosophy from a young age. He often meditated with me and shared books, which sparked my lifelong fascination with meditation and mindfulness practices. During my teenage years, my family moved to Southeast Asia, where I lived for two years. During this time, I developed a fascination with Eastern philosophy and meditation. I was deeply moved by the temples and the teachings I encountered, and I read as many books as I could find on the subject.
After returning to California, I graduated from U.C. Santa Cruz with a degree in Theater Arts. I was passionate about acting and theater production and diligently pursued this career path. This took me to Ireland, where I lived for almost six years, immersing myself in the country’s rich cultural and artistic landscape.
While in Ireland, I first discovered the profound benefits of meditation and mindfulness. I was struck by how much more present and grounded I felt when I practiced these techniques, and I became convinced that more people should have access to these tools for greater well-being.
However, my love for Iceland drew me to the country, and I moved there in 1995. I fell in love with the nation’s vast and wild nature, which has become a great source of inspiration for me.
It wasn’t until 2000 that I discovered the profound benefits of meditation and mindfulness. During a nine-day meditation retreat, I experienced a big epiphany that opened up a new world. I felt rejuvenated, passionate, and alive and I wanted to share this experience with everyone around me. Everybody enjoyed this feeling, and meditation could be beneficial to everyone. However, people around me thought I was crazy, and it took 22 years for them to realize that I was onto something.
Today, I am a mindfulness and meditation practitioner, as well as a collaborator with my husband, who is a filmmaker. We work on various creative projects incorporating music and guided meditation to help people connect with their inner selves and find greater peace and clarity.
In summary, my background has been shaped by a deep curiosity and a desire to explore different cultures and ways of thinking. My time at UC Santa Cruz helped me develop a strong foundation in theater arts, and my journey has led me to discover the profound benefits of meditation and mindfulness, which I am passionate about sharing with others.
What inspired you to get into immersive tech? Please tell us a bit about your journey into the VR industry.
My journey into the V.R. industry was actually unexpected but very exciting. It all started when I joined the Startup Reykjavík community and was part of an accelerator program with a team, and we were working on creating a new kind of meditation platform. During the program, I was hired to do a voiceover for the Everest Experience in V.R. That was the first time I experienced V.R. myself. I was blown away by the immersive technology and its potential to help people learn meditation in a profound and impactful way.
From then on, I became increasingly interested in V.R. and its potential to create immersive and transformative experiences. Despite my initial skepticism, I realized that V.R. had the potential to reach people who may have otherwise been resistant to meditation and help them understand the benefits of meditation in a much deeper way.
So, we integrated V.R. into our meditation platform and created Flow, our flagship product. Through music, nature scenes, and guided meditation, we made a V.R. experience that was truly transformative for people.
It has been an incredible journey, and I am grateful to be a part of this emerging immersive technology market. V.R. has the potential to change people’s lives in profound ways, and I’m excited to be a part of this industry as it continues to grow and evolve.
What have been some of the biggest challenges or obstacles you’ve faced in your journey with Flow, and how have you overcome them?
Our journey with Flow has been filled with challenges and obstacles, and we’ve had to overcome several hurdles to progress. One of our most significant challenges was securing funding to sustain our operations and growth. Like many startups, we faced difficulty finding the resources to take our vision from an idea to a reality. However, we tackled this obstacle by relying on accelerators, grants, and angel investors who believed in our vision and were willing to support us.
Another significant hurdle we had to overcome was getting into the B2B2C market and finding corporate subscribers who could benefit from our approach to meditation. We knew there was a demand for our system, but we had to work hard to establish ourselves in this space and grow our user base. This required a lot of effort and dedication, but with persistence, we could identify the right partners and collaborators who shared our vision.
Finding great collaborators and growing our team were also essential to our success. We needed to work with individuals who shared our vision and were passionate about our goal. By identifying the right people and building a solid team, we were able to navigate the challenges of monetization and market penetration in an emerging space. It wasn’t easy, but we remained committed to our vision and stayed the course until we could build a team to help us achieve our goals.
Finally, creating a movement around Flow was critical to overcoming our challenges. We knew we had something unique and valuable to offer our users, but we needed to build a community of like-minded individuals who shared our vision and mission. By doing so, we were able to gain momentum and create something extraordinary that could help people all around the world find their Flow.
Overcoming these obstacles required persistence, determination, and a strong sense of purpose. We knew that what we were doing had the potential to make a real difference in people’s lives, and we remained committed to our vision even when times were tough. Looking back, we’re proud of what we’ve accomplished so far, but we know there’s still much more work to be done.
How has Flow evolved, and what have been some of the company’s most significant milestones or achievements?
Flow has been on an exciting journey since its inception. We started out with a simple demo on the Samsung V.R. platform, but we quickly realized that we had the potential to make a meaningful impact on people’s lives. Our team has worked tirelessly to develop our mindfulness tools, incorporating the latest research in psychology, neuroscience, and mindfulness practices.
One of our most significant milestones was launching our full app with six modes at the Sigur Ros Festival in December 2018. The positive feedback we received from attendees and industry experts validated all the hard work we had put in. We were also fortunate to receive the Gulleggið government grant, which provided us with the resources to launch our corporate programs and develop our mobile app.
Since then, we have gained significant traction with corporate subscribers like PwC, Vodafone, and CCP Games, who have all used our tools to help their employees reduce stress and improve their well-being. We have also participated in two accelerators, S.R. and Katapult, which enabled us to raise funds, gain valuable insights, and expand our network.
Our commitment to scientific rigor has led us to conduct several studies with companies like Coor and PwC, which have shown promising results in reducing stress and improving focus and productivity. And now, we are excited to be part of a clinical study in Portugal, exploring how our tools can help preoperative breast cancer patients reduce stress and improve their outcomes.
Our journey has been full of challenges and opportunities, but we remain committed to making mindfulness accessible to all. We believe that our V.R. and mobile app-based tools can significantly impact people’s lives, and we are excited to continue to innovate and expand our reach in the years to come.
How have you seen the VR and AR industry change and grow, and how has Flow adapted to those changes?
The VR and AR industry has undergone remarkable changes and growth in recent years, and Flow has quickly adapted to those changes.
One of the most exciting developments in the industry is the rise of female creators taking center stage. Nanea Reeves and Sarah Hill are two pioneering women who have been in the industry for longer than I have, and I greatly admire their work. I was struck by the number of female creators I saw when I attended the IVRHA and AWE conferences in Portugal, and it’s clear that the industry is becoming much more equitable.
Another trend I’ve noticed is the growth of conferences focused on health and wellness. IVRHA and AWE will expand and become even more popular in the coming years.
It’s also interesting to see how different platforms are championing other models. HTC Vive and Pico, for example, are focusing more on B2B and B2BDC models rather than just B2C. But, unfortunately, the meta store seems very B2C-driven, which only offers a little support for companies like ours operating in the B2B and B2BDC spaces.
Looking to the future, we’re excited about creating group experiences with Flow. Imagine a meditation involving people from all over the world participating in live meditations in different locations. It’s an exciting time to be a part of this industry, and we’re thrilled to be a part of it.
What are your long-term goals and vision for Flow, and how do you see the company evolving and growing in the coming years?
My long-term vision for Flow is to make meditation accessible and easy for everyone. I want to create a global movement of people who can find greater peace and well-being through meditation. To achieve this, I see Flow evolving and growing in several ways.
Firstly, we will continue expanding our reach into new markets and languages so that more people worldwide can benefit from our app and technology. We will also explore new ways to integrate biometric tracking and other forms of technology into our meditation experiences, to help people better understand the benefits of meditation and personalize their practice.
In addition, we will focus on building a solid community of meditators, both online and offline. We want to create a space where people can connect with others on the same journey, share their experiences and insights, and support one another in their practice.
Ultimately, my goal for Flow is to help people cultivate a greater sense of inner peace and well-being and to empower them to live their lives with more clarity, purpose, and compassion. Meditation can be a transformative tool for achieving this, and I am committed to making it accessible and easy for everyone.
Can you share any key learnings or insights you’ve gained through your experience with Flow and the VR/AR industry?
Absolutely. One of the key learnings or insights I’ve gained through my experience with Flow and the VR/AR industry is the importance of networks, strategic partnerships, alliances, and collaboration.
In an emerging industry like this, it’s crucial to be part of something bigger than yourself and to connect with others in the ecosystem. I discovered this firsthand when I attended conferences like IVRHA and AWE in Portugal. I was struck by the number of female creators around me and the sense of community in the industry. It’s all about connecting with others and creating a grassroots movement around your mission.
Another important insight is the growing interest in health and wellness in the VR/AR industry. I see a lot of potentials for Flow to expand in this area, particularly with integrating biometrics like EEGs and HRVs into our experiences. By providing subjective and objective data on the benefits of meditation, we can help people track and improve their mental and physical health.
Overall, my experience with Flow and the VR/AR industry has taught me the importance of staying connected, being adaptable, and always looking for new opportunities to innovate and improve.
What’s your vision for the future of VR and the Metaverse?
As someone passionate about the potential of V.R. and the metaverse, I see a future where these technologies are used for more than just entertainment. We will see a rise in applications that focus on improving health and wellness, connecting communities, and fostering empathy across the globe. V.R. has the potential to be an empathy machine, allowing people to connect and share information in new and meaningful ways.
I also see a future where V.R. and the metaverse are used for high-level training and education. From mastering meditation to learning new skills, incredible tools and opportunities will be available in V.R. As we continue to develop these technologies, I want to prioritize their potential for positive impact and work to ensure they are used ethically and responsibly.
What parts of the VR industry do you think need to be changed? Why?
The VR industry needs significant changes to improve safety and accessibility and address gender inequality. For example, it’s alarming and unacceptable that individuals such as Nina Jane Patel, a blogger pursuing her Ph.D. in immersive technology in the UK, experience physical abuse in the Metaverse. As such, we must prioritize safety regulations to ensure all users feel secure and protected while engaging in virtual experiences. By implementing safeguards, we can prevent any form of abuse or harm from happening.
Moreover, female entrepreneurs and creators face significant challenges in securing funding and recognition within the VR industry. This issue must be addressed by creating greater accessibility for women and providing them with the necessary resources and support to succeed. By doing so, we can help level the playing field and encourage more women to innovate and contribute.
Finally, we must continue exploring the vast potential of VR technology to revolutionize various sectors, such as education, healthcare, entertainment, and gaming. By focusing on innovation and inclusivity, we can make significant changes to the VR industry that benefit everyone involved. The VR industry has the potential to shape how we live, work, and interact with one another, and we must work together to create a safe, inclusive, and accessible virtual world.
What are your thoughts on privacy and ethics?
As someone who values privacy and ethics, we must address these topics in the XR industry. With the increased monitoring and invasion of privacy by big tech and the government, we must prioritize fundamental human rights and respect for individuals. We are losing this sense of respect and connection in our society, and we need to get back to basics and uphold these values. The XR industry ensures privacy and ethics are at the forefront of all developments and innovations.
What advice do you have for people (entrepreneurs, professionals, artists, and students) looking to enter the XR industry? And how can they best position themselves for success?
My advice for anyone looking to enter the XR industry is to first figure out what you’re passionate about within the industry. Choose an area that excites you and that you’re motivated to work on for the long term. Staying up-to-date on industry trends, technologies, and innovations is also essential. Networking and building relationships with other professionals in the field can also be beneficial for finding opportunities and gaining knowledge.
For entrepreneurs, I suggest focusing on creating a product or service that solves a problem or fills a need in the market. Conducting thorough market research and having a clear business plan can also help position your company for success.
For professionals, artists, and students, I recommend building a solid portfolio showcasing your skills and creativity, staying up-to-date with the latest technologies, attending conferences, joining XR-related groups and forums, and seeking internships or apprenticeships to gain hands-on experience and building relationships with industry professionals.
It’s also essential to continuously develop your skills and knowledge in XR. Keep up with the latest software and hardware developments, and consider taking courses or attending workshops to expand your skill set.
Finally, don’t be afraid to take risks and pursue your passions. The XR industry is still relatively new, so there is plenty of room for innovation and disruption. Embrace the challenges and learn from your mistakes, as they will ultimately help you grow and succeed in this exciting and dynamic industry.
Success in the XR industry requires a combination of passion, dedication, knowledge, and skill. By staying focused on your goals and continuously learning and improving, you can position yourself for success in this exciting and rapidly growing field.
Who have been your most important mentors? Why? How did you meet them?
Thank you for the question. I have been fortunate to have several essential mentors who have guided me and helped me grow personally and professionally.
One of my earliest and most influential mentors was Bala Kamallakharan, founder of the Startup Iceland Conference and the Iceland Venture Studio. He was the first person who believed in me and my vision for Flow, and he provided invaluable guidance and support as I navigated the ups and downs of starting a company. He has an incredible track record of success and has never lost money on any of his investments, making him a great mentor.
Another essential mentor is Dr. Walter Greenleaf, who has been involved with VR and mental wellness for over three decades. He is a genuine connector and knows everyone in the industry. He has been an incredible source of knowledge and guidance for me and has helped me to navigate the complex world of VR and mental health.
On the meditation side, I feel incredibly fortunate to have learned from spiritual master Kalindi. She created a modern-day meditation practice that has impacted tens of thousands of people worldwide, and I have based much of Flow on what I learned from her.
All my mentors have profoundly impacted me, and I am grateful for their guidance and support. I met them through various channels, mostly networking and attending industry events. It is essential to always be on the lookout for mentors and be open to learning from others, no matter where they come from or their backgrounds.
What’s your favorite inspirational quote? What about the quote inspires you?
The quote “The solution to the problem is to go deeper” by the great spiritual teacher Gourasana has been a guiding principle for me. It means that when faced with any challenge or problem, the key to finding a solution is to go beyond the surface level, where things may be chaotic and turbulent, and instead seek the calm and stillness of the deeper levels.
Our society often operates on a surface level, which causes much unrest and turbulence. However, when we delve deep through meditation or introspection, we can connect with a more peaceful and benevolent energy. It’s like entering a different force field, where we can make more precise decisions, gain clarity, and have realizations that may have been obscured.
For me, this quote inspires a sense of hope and optimism. It reminds me that even in the face of adversity, there is always a way to find a solution and a path forward. It encourages me to look beyond the surface level and dig deeper, tap into my inner wisdom, and find the answers I seek. Ultimately, it reminds me that there is always a way to find peace and stillness, even amidst the chaos of the world around us.
🧘♂️🧘🏻♂️🧘🏼♂️🧘🏽♂️🧘🏾♂️🧘🏿♂️Remember to meditate.🧘🏿♀️🧘🏾♀️🧘🏽♀️🧘🏼♀️🧘🏻♀️🧘♀️
Find Tristan on LinkedIn, Twitter and learn more about his company, Flow
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