QR codes are a funny thing and everyone has a different opinion about them. From my experience, it’s usually quite negative as it seems like its a dying technology and is way past its exciting days of grabbing a cute girls BBM at The Roxy via your nifty “Can I scan your barcode” pickup line (OK maybe that was just me). QR codes however are very much alive and the technology is evolving in other interesting ways. This weeks startup, Muprime, has an interesting approach to QR codes by improving their aesthetics and allowing brands to get much more out of them.
1. Who are you? Tell us about your business/core idea and what inspired you to create it.
I am Behzad Behroozan, Co-founder of Muprime. As a biomedical engineer, I am curious to see how people interact with various technologies and how these interactions can become more meaningful.
Muprime is integrating the technologies that connect real world to relevant online contents in one suite. These technologies are called O2O (Offline-2- Online) and include 2D barcodes (QR code, MS Tags), NFC, and Augmented Reality.
Trends show that in 5 more years, 10 billion mobile devices will be active and almost all products will have a page on the Internet. I am sure you can imagine how crucial it would be to connect the relevant product, article or any physical object to its corresponding online information through mobile enabled devices.
2. What role do you see QR codes playing within the marketing world in the next few years?
I should mention that I see a new industry forming. The industry of connecting the real planet to the virtual world is a disruptive industry. The media to connect the physical to virtual worlds would change the way we live. So that is why although with QRArtist we take QR codes to another level by automatically enhancing the aesthetics based on user inputs, we are working on NFC tags and Augmented Reality.
QR code is still very useful thanks to better smartphone cameras, better apps, and faster connection speed. I think QR codes will stay with us specially when wearable gadgets such as Google Glass, and Apple iWatch hit the market. There would be no need for downloading the app and I think companies would use technologies similar to QR code to increase the accuracy of their wearable devices.
3. How has Vancouver’s rising startup community played a role in the development of Muprime?
Having entrepreneurial craziness is one thing, supporting this behavior is another issue. Getting funded in Vancouver might be harder than many places but we receive the best support from businesses in Vancouver. We would have a much harder life without the support from Vancouver.
For example, SFU Time Center provided us with office space, Thealzel Lee, Mike Volker, and Dave Thomas listened to our ideas, and tested the system. Rizwas Kheraj(IRAP) and Sang Mah (MITACS) help us a lot on funding and business, and the BC and Federal governments trade commissionaires helped us to participate in a trade event in Japan and Hong Kong. Additionally, the City of Vancouver will run Viva Treasure using QR codes this summer as part of Activate Granville.
4. What kind of challenges has your team had to face and how have you mitigated them?
Challenge, change, failure are common words in a start up. It means opportunity, improvement and learning to us respectively.
Based on my experience, most important challenges are not technical, but communication. Communicating with your team, target audience, investors, mass media, etc. is the most challenging part. We are solving this problem with proper project management and communication plans. We have a clear line of communication and revise our plans on a daily basis. We also attend other networking events to get connected with other colleagues and solve the issues together.
5. What core problem are you specifically solving for Vancouverites?
Muprime Technology was selected as one of the local businesses to participate in VIVA Vancouver this coming summer. The QR code scavenger hunt game will provide participants with the opportunity to experience VIVA Granville offline and online via their smartphones. By scanning the QR codes, they will gain access to content relevant to their time and location and even win prizes.
Along with the QR code scavenger hunt, VIVA Treasure will include a range of fun activities available for all ages. From multiplayer games, a custom postcard station, and a 4D Hologram display, there will be something for everyone. Please read more at http://www.vancitybuzz.com/2013/05/viva-treasure-interactive-qr-code-scavenger-hunt-on-granville/.
6. What entrepreneur has inspired you the most for running your business and what makes them so special?
Steve Jobs and Anoushe Ansari. Both dreamed big and just acted based on their belief. They both trusted themselves. Something we all should do.
7. What Vancouver celebrity would you most be excited to have as a member of the team and why?
David Suzuki. His dedication to environment and dreaming on making our planet a better place to live is inspiring. I am amazed how he keeps himself optimistic and show this optimism by smiling on camera, writing positive books and initiating nationwide challenges.
8. What’s your advice for current or future entrepreneurs?
Just do what you dream about. As I mentioned earlier, challenge is opportunity and failure is the most obvious outcome of learning. We always can go back to paycheck, can’t we?
*End of interview*
Muprime is taking a fresh approach to barcodes and are revitalizing them by the day it seems. As the mass adoption of smartphones continues to soar, it’s quite hard to see this industry disappearing. By curing the aesthetic problem that plain QR codes have, with companies like Muprime, marketers can be reassured that they are still conveying their message even if people dont interact with the QR code. You might just start to see these refreshed QR codes start to pop up so keep your eyes peeled and remember Behzad and the Muprime team.
*Vancouver Entrepreneurs is a weekly feature on the city’s most notable entrepreneurs and startups that are making a local and even a global impact. If you think your venture deserves to be on the series, send an email to [email protected] to explain why you’re a fit*