Keenan Jeffrey Artis, another business scholar, and I were hosted by Jose Sanchez and Raul Rosas at their offices in the Merchandise Mart of Chicago.
Sanchez and Rosas are UIC Business alumni and co-founders of the virtual reality startup Fluxee. Both graduated with Bachelor of Science degrees in Accounting in 2013. They gave us a tour of their offices and the communal startup space at 1871, Chicago’s digital startup incubator in the Merchandise Mart.
A former UIC Business management professor, Antonio “Paco” Giuliani, served as a mentor to Sanchez during his time at school. Through this relationship, Sanchez landed an internship at 1871 working with a virtual reality (VR) startup. Sanchez brought his valuable experience working with this business to the founding of Fluxee.
Fluxee is a virtual reality company that provides corporations and other users with life-like views of properties through technology. The company is a member of Elmspring, an accelerator dedicated to supporting emerging real estate and housing technologies that is part of 1871.
By wearing a headset and other VR gear, Fluxee users can experience properties ranging from retail stores, warehouses, or hotels from the inside. Clients use the program to make business decisions such as the placement of products within a store or the right furniture for a space, among others more conveniently. The technology also helps users visualize the dimensions and scale of a room as if they were physically in the space.
Fluxee’s first customers were real estate firms, including Kass Management, a leader in property management. The companies used the software to show clients properties without wasting time and money on in-person tours. Potential buyers can even virtually move furniture around the rooms. Over time, other industries, including consumer packaged goods and store configuration fields, have taken interest in the company and its software. Sanchez and Rosas are currently working with a variety of clients and aim to make their company a household name within the industry. Designers really appreciate not just being immersed in virtual worlds, but being able to collaborate and communicate with their colleagues across the world in real time.
Towards the end of the tour, Sanchez and Rosas demonstrated their products, including the VR headset and gear. Once the gear is on, you can see views of a property, which can be easily switched. You can walk in the VR by either using the controls that are provided or walking in real life.
During our visit, Sanchez emphasized the importance of networking and maintaining strong connections when launching your career. Sanchez knows from experience how connections can jumpstart your career; one of Fluxee’s first investors was a now-retired UIC Business faculty member. Sanchez also suggests that the first investors convinced to put money in a startup are usually not people who believe in their product, but people who believe in the founders and trust their ideas. Sanchez and Rosas provided insight to not only into the Tech Industry but also into the specifics of founding a startup. The most significant advice from Sanchez and Rosa that I will carry with me throughout college is to network as much as possible, so I can create and maintain strong connections for after graduation.
Yuuka Ikeshita is a UIC Business sophomore majoring in Information Decision Sciences and a Business Scholar.