For Alejandro Corpeño and Jorge García, the road to success hasn’t been a simple one.
The co-founders of Los Angeles-based consumer digital products company, Hello Iconic, saw their initial tech start-up fail, leading the duo to scramble for work doing consulting work with other startups, and then with media and entertainment companies through agencies. But looking back, that potentially dark period of business for them turned out to be a blessing.
“We found ourselves in the middle of that innovation ecosystem,” García, CTO of Hello Iconic, told the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA). “Maybe because of our background coming from a technology startup, we saw that the clients were looking at us as their product and technology innovation partners.”
Since its beginning, the products that Hello Iconic has created were related to new platforms, new technologies and trying new things. The firm was an early advocate of augmented reality, and when it started in on the field of OTT and TV streaming apps, Hello Iconic quickly used its mobile-first know-how to build top-tier apps for other platforms like FireTV, AndroidTV, Roku and tvOS as they were being launched.
“Basically, we were helping media companies to try proofs-of-concept on new platforms and also to create new products on these technologies,” Corpeño, CEO of the company, said.
That initial mobile and OTT apps work has blossomed into Hello Iconic bringing expert work into the virtual and mixed reality spaces, responsive user interfaces and RESTful APIs, voice assistants, and even chatbots.
Today, the company’s clients include everyone from fast-growing start-ups to Fortune 500 companies.
“When you see the vendors in the market, you can identify two kinds of them: software vendors and creative agencies,” García said. “We understand both worlds. As a company, we can conceive a product from the start and work with you thinking about how the product should work, both from the user experience and also on the technology side. And then with that, we can actually work on creating that product.
“So we are able to create products with less information than normally a software vendor could do but actually with a lot of quality and speed.”
Hello Iconic sees itself as a partner that helps enterprise companies move as fast as a technology startup company, creating products with a less structured environment, help clients conceive what they want and build the product in an iterative base with an enterprise quality.
Falling for VR
According to García, the moment this generation of VR devices emerged — HTCVive, Oculus, Google VR, etc. — Hello Iconic wasted no time gathering talent to create apps for the technology.
“We did a lot of internal explorations, we brainstormed, build those ideas, made mistakes, and that resulted in a lot of learning,” he said. “Since we started so early on, we have a lot of experience and we have already released products. We are really good at quickly defining and implementing products with you. We already have libraries, the know-how, we understand user behavior, we have knowledge of the user experience.”
Hello Iconic’s AR and VR unit works as a lab within the company, allowing it to experiment and deliver enterprise quality software, something you don’t see in the market.
You’ll see a lot of small players doing things and big players that still don’t understand the technology, we are in that sweet spot between them,” Corpeño added.
Meanwhile, in the nascent voice assistant space, Hello Iconic has the approach that assumes users are connected all the time and making that constantly connected experience easier is the name of the game.
“Apps are being used to ask things and find content, to listen to a podcast, to search, so there are a lot of opportunities that are related to content and user interactions, and user engagement along their journey” García said. Look at in-car voice opportunities, he added: People are driving an hour or more each day for work, allow them to interact with your product and your content during their commutes.
Looking at What’s Next
Whether it’s blockchain, Magic Leap 3D imaging, Data Science, or artificial intelligence, Hello Iconic always had an eye out for what’s next, Corpeño said.
“We become really valuable when we work closely with a company that wants to quickly explore something,” he added. “Can we explore an idea and identify how hard is it to create a specific product?”
That’s where Hello Iconic stands out: creating explorations, proofs-of-concept and, most importantly, defining how any app should work, both from a product standpoint and from a technology standpoint. Lowering technology risk and removing uncertainty in the projects.
“This allows us to make decisions based on information,” García said. “We can say ‘Yes, this product makes sense’ or ‘No, actually this is not as simple as we thought but we can try this other instead.’ Once this is solved, we provide greater value by quickly switching from overall vision mode to execution, since we have worked on it from its early idea conception.”