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🌊 Building the 3D Web

🌊 Building the 3D Web
By Open Water Weekly • Issue #14 • View online
My name is Jacob Peddicord and I’m the Editor at Open Water Accelerator. Today I sat down with Benjamin Ha to talk about his startup Muse. Ben and I first met at Hack YC when he was still in high school, this was a great chance to see how far he’s come. You can sign up for your own 3D web experience here.
Here’s a summary of what we learned:
  • 🌐 Leverage open and universal platforms for growth.
  • 🤝 Trust your team, they are there for a reason.
  • 👀 Put your brand on display to generate referrals.

Benjamin Ha🗣️ 
What is your long-term vision is with Muse? 
Alex and I started Muse to free the world of boring 2D websites. We quickly learned that the infrastructure of VR is severely underdeveloped, and we’ve been building these 3D websites for about a year now. We’ve built a no-code solution that allows anyone to make their 3D website in less than 30 minutes.
We’re building out the infrastructure of virtual reality on the browser. We see the browser being the platform where VR content is distributed in the future. We don’t see it locked into an Oculus or Steam Store. We see it evolving onto the web, and our full intent is to become the biggest distributor of that software. Our sites work on your phone, computer, and VR headsets. 
What makes you a believer in the 3D website space?
Alex and I have been building websites for cultural leaders and celebrities for the past six years. Every year more and more 3D elements are being incorporated into our website. Even our first website six years ago had 3D models. We saw a slow evolution of websites eventually being built entirely with 3D models. Specifically, ASAP Rocky 3D World was when we knew that 3D websites would be a big space.
3D had its moments back in 2013, and there were so many VR startups back then. They all kind of went bust, but there was always a very active community. These 3D companies went bust because they weren’t tackling the end problem, which is how do you get content creators to build in 3D? We purposely built out a no-code solution to facilitate these content creators who don’t have any experience with 3D to build 3D content and put it on the web.
How will the world change when VR is more popular, and how does Muse fit into that picture? 
That’s why we’re making our bet on the browser. Most of our competitors, if not all, are placing their bets on VR platforms. Those devices are not popular right now with consumers. What is popular are phones and laptops. We’re building for the browser first and then will expand to VR later. With one code base and one website, not only does it run on your phone and laptop right now, but also a VR headset. 
In the future, I do believe that the VR wave will come, and everyone’s going to have a VR headset. Our entire team has a Quest, and you can access these websites like you would any other VR software. The beauty of it is that you don’t download any of it, you just type the URL in the Quest browser, and you click the VR button to pop right into the environment.
What have you focused on over the last six months, and what are you looking at in the near future? 
The last six months have been a lot of R&D and market testing. We needed to learn that there was actual demand. We launched our MVP last December, and we’ve gotten over 120 users since then. We’ve also worked with some exciting customers like ASAP Rocky and Amazon.
Right now, we’re raising our pre-seed round to build out an end-to-end SaaS platform that allows everyone to build a 3D website automatically. Some people call Muse a Squarespace for 3Dwebsites. Our MVP is just a Typeform that emulates that. In the next six months, we intend to build a SaaS platform that will automatically process websites.
What is one peice of advice you would give yourself if you were starting today? 
One thing we didn’t do well with MetaPlug was managing the team or keeping one together. The most important lesson that I’ve learned is that you have to learn to trust people on your team because they’re there for a reason. They’re there because they’re supposed to know more about a particular subject than you are. Instead of telling them what to do, you need to set up objectives and trust that they’re making the right decisions.
What was your most successful strategy for attracting your first customers? 
We were one of the early users of Clubhouse, and that’s how we got the first 50 customers. What was interesting about our product is that over 30% of our user acquisitions came from referrals. Every three websites we launch, we acquire another user. 
We operate just like Squarespace or LinkTree because everyone who builds a website with us uses our domain. You can pay to remove that, but that’s how people find out about us.
request for startup💡: curation social network
This idea comes from Ann Miura-Ko in Mario Gabriele’s The Generalist. It’s common to spend an absurd amount of time searching the internet to make sure whatever you buy is the best version of that thing. I know when I bought a new backpack years ago, I got sucked into a YouTube rabbit hole and read dozens of reviews (worth it). The opportunity is to create a social network to allow everyone to share their unique knowledge with everyone. This can allow them to help others and improve their own expertise.
Kit does this for YouTubers, you can see MKBHD’s setup here, but it should apply to many other domains.
Reply to this email with an idea of your own for a chance to be featured!
internships 🖥️ 
🤖 Yahoo Sports | Software Engineer (Fantasy Team) | “Yahoo Sports is looking for a self-motivated, hands-on software engineer who loves Sports. The engineer will be responsible for developing web services and other backend systems. Working in Yahoo Sports is an adventure in delivering first-class experiences across multiple devices at a scale you won’t find anywhere else on the planet. It’s fun finishing a feature and seeing it live with millions of users an hour later.”
🏦 Royal Bank of Canada | Summer Analyst Program | “Each year, we invite high-performing, rising college seniors to join our Global Investment Banking (GIB) platform for a 10-week U.S. Summer Analyst Program. The program offers Summer Analysts an opportunity to work alongside our investment bankers on a variety of live transactions as well as client-facing business development initiatives.”
next edition...
We will be back on Thursday with Nick Dazé, the Co-Founder of PocketList.
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