In a recent episode of the VR-focused podcast ‘VR And All That Jas,’ Maureen Fan, CEO of Baobab Studios, sat down to discuss her journey in the virtual reality space, the challenges of entrepreneurship, and the future of interactive entertainment.
Maureen Fan’s journey in the VR industry is nothing short of inspiring. With a background that includes a stint at Pixar and an MBA from Harvard Business School, Fan has been at the forefront of blending storytelling with technology. Baobab Studios, under her leadership, has been responsible for some of the most popular and innovative VR experiences to date.
The Power of VR and Animation
Fan’s passion for animation and VR is evident. She believes that these mediums have the power to transport us back to our childlike wonder. “The reason I love it is because it brings us back to that five-year-old sense of self where we think anything is possible,” she said. This sentiment resonates with many in the VR community who see the medium as a way to experience new worlds and stories in a deeply immersive way.
“When I’m watching animation or playing animated games, I feel… that five-year-old sense of wonder come back out. And I feel invincible, like I can do anything.”
Challenges of Entrepreneurship
Discussing the challenges of scaling up a startup, Fan emphasized the psychological hurdles. “I don’t know any founder, entrepreneur that does not struggle with self-doubt, crippling self-doubt,” she shared. She stressed the importance of having co-founders and a support system, highlighting the need for shared burdens and mutual encouragement.
The Future of VR Entertainment
Fan is optimistic about the future of VR, especially with the introduction of new headsets and the potential for broader audience reach. She sees VR as the perfect medium to merge the narrative characters of film and TV with the interactivity of games.
“In VR you have the potential to have both in a way that you couldn’t have in a traditional medium… It’s the perfect medium for what I think is perfect entertainment.”
Discussing Baobab’s recent game, Galactic Catch, Fan explained its connection to their earlier project, Invasion. “Galactic Catch is a VR fishing game set in the world of Invasion,” she said. The game offers players a unique experience, fishing in intergalactic worlds and encountering alien fish.
Empowering Women in Tech
Fan’s journey as a woman in the tech industry offers valuable insights. She emphasized the importance of confidence, stating, “Either fake it, fake your confidence, or just be confident.” She also highlighted the need for educating men in the industry, sharing a personal story about advocating for her promotion at Zynga.
“Either fake it, fake your confidence, or just be confident… But it’s hard because society… what is considered feminine and attractive as a woman is not to beat your chest and say, look at me.”
Maureen Fan’s insights offer a glimpse into the world of VR development, the challenges and rewards of entrepreneurship, and the importance of representation in the tech industry. As VR continues to evolve, leaders like Fan will undoubtedly shape its future, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in interactive storytelling.
Watch the full interview with Maureen Fan here: