Shelli Brunswick Interview with Pinar Oncu of AtlasOffice
Written by: Space Foundation Editorial Team
Well hello, and welcome to another Space Foundation Space Commerce Entrepreneurial interview. I’m Shelli Brunswick, the Chief Operating Officer. Today I have the privilege to talk with Pinar Oncu, CEO of AtlasOffice.
Well hello Shelli, how are you?
I’m fantastic, thank you so much for joining us today.
Thank you, you’re welcome and I thank you for being here.
Well we’re excited to share your insight with our audience. Let me tell our audience a little bit about you, you have an amazing background.
You’re welcome. Pinar is an XR developer entrepreneur and urban designer. She’s a co-founder and the CEO of AtlasOffice a 3D immersive business social platform. She comes from a technical background of software development simulation and game development specialties with fundamental troubleshooting. Her special interest is neuroscience human behavior and cosmology. She is determined to be one of the most successful women entrepreneurs globally so I’m honored that again you’re joining us today ’cause I think our panel our audience is going to love hearing you talk about your first of all let’s start with talk about your company tell us about Atlas office.
Yeah sure so hello everybody Atlas of-I’m the CEO of AtlasOffice and so what we do is basically gathering people together in a digital space so with the pandemic we have realized that we cannot go out in some cases that forced us to work remotely. Some companies before COVID were already working remotely but wasn’t so popular let’s accept. So, we have realized we can work remotely too, and this has got huge benefits too. We don’t have any traffic rush, yet we can work at a job which is miles away on the other side of the planet, so this actually extended our boundaries. Yet we are still missing our offices right? So well what when we are talking with our customers they’re mostly struggling this being all alone in their you know flat screen looking at the same screen all day long without communicating with any people no matter what they do on the video calls it’s not like interacting with people. This is how AtlasOffice was born. I actually come from an XR developing company so far for the last five years we’ve been developing AR VR and similar new media technologies cutting edge future technologies people call. So, for the last five years we developed more than 35 projects actually projects and products, so Atlas Office is one of them. We started developing it way before COVID we projected remote working would go more trendy but we never expected this you know acceleration actually so we are actually some group of mad architects and designers trying to break free their physical limits from the physical world now we’re creating digital worlds so here we are with Atlas office. I will tell more about AtlasOffice in the upcoming times of the conversation.
That’s amazing Pinar are you know what our audience really wants to know is what was your journey how did you get to where you are today? Tell us about your background.
Yeah sure I I actually see myself like a limitless lifelong curious I have got an endless curiosity from my childhood on I’ve been moving here and there because of my family’s jobs. I lived in eight different cities three countries changed like 12 schools I mean 12 schools yeah you know so I have experienced lots of different geographies cultures peoples living and perceptions so I still have that curiosity about anything I come across with maybe this is the source. So, then I started studying urban design because it was super super exciting for me to consider you know appropriate fantastic living space for humanity. Then with combination of my technological interest I started developing geospatial simulations for geographic information systems then started developing my own mobile applications and desktop applications completely switched to being a technology developer and where that’s where my intrapreneurial journey started. When you’re in the tech world is pretty popular to jump in the entrepreneurial world so I started a technological company now I’m on the second one and in between that I have developed an interest in neuroscience because this curiosity started started making me feel curious about why I am so curious so I tried to understand how people perceive the world how they make decisions and how they interpret what’s happening how they imagine how they feel curiosity about what they see to understand them and to understand myself so that I can continue my works in much better way and sets better dialogues with people understand people better and their needs at that point I started developing the interest in neuroscience this all of the combinations of this urban design technological developments and neuroscience coming from that human behavior understanding process just actually made the perfect combination for developing extended realities. Currently what we basically do is designing digital spaces for people to have certain experiences.
That’s fantastic. So, I love how you kind of came to where you came up with this concept and the journey of getting to you where you are with Atlas Office. Tell us a little bit more about the spark for AtlasOffice and then would you actually share some of it with our audience so they can see what you’re talking about?
Yeah exactly so let me share my screen and show you a few snapshots about what we do. So welcome to Mars this is actually pretty much one of our first virtual reality applications because in virtual reality we can make people be there don’t go there don’t have take the journey but immediately be there teleport there because we process the world in a complete way when we’re looking at the screens it’s just an image it can be a movie it can be some some sort of fiction but when we’re in the virtual reality headset wherever we look we see the same thing so that our brains think OK I am here so we can make people wake up in Mars and feel that nervous moments when they need to figure out how to find food after find water how to breathe how they can refill the batteries of the living space they are in so they are on the Red Planet walking around trying to survive so this experience has taken a lot of attention by everybody that’s been tested. So we took the experience level one step further so here you see this is an air temple this is something in our regular lives normal lives where we cannot go but we’re taking you there you have got a gliders you’re on and on a flying rock actually so you’re taking your glider and you know roaming around roaming between those rocks there are waterfalls or clouds or birds or dragon flies so end in your arriving to some spots where somebody is helping you exercise your breath and meditates so you don’t have to meditate your eyes closed we can take you to another place which is completely calming and soothing so this is one of our applications where we take people to another reality. Then this is actually right now what I’m focused in and what I am CEO of. This is AtlasOffice welcome to a space where you see your work mates on the space when we’re when we’re working remotely we’re looking at the videos of our colleagues when somebody needs to join us they need to find the true link to connect or we have no idea who other people are doing they are in the space or not there in the universe or not so it’s all me and the video faces along but in Atlas Office when you’re in the space you see everybody doing something there are people in the meeting rooms there are people working together in the table in the table areas there are people in the social area is just having a social chat they’ve got spaces like that too and there are some people who has got their ove side on their heads meaning don’t disturb me I’m here but if it’s only for urgent so basically people just jump into space and collaborate in like 10 seconds they don’t need to send links they just open their video cameras inside they still hear their voices they can make their presentations share their screens they can even share their 3D models and work on it in a collaboration. And there are social spaces and games in the area people just don’t need to actually only gather for working in an office space remember in our offices we used to celebrate birthday parties we used to make happy Fridays we used to get together for just watching some casual thing for example sometimes maybe movie even you know and we had to we just had some social chat moments that bounded us actually with the team we are bounding people no matter what we produce in our lives that can be academical articles a technological product software or hardware we can do we can do anything but eventually in the end we are human beings and the things that we produce are also for human beings so both sides start and end with a human being. That’s where we need to connect to connect with the space connect with the team show that connect with the job and the idea to take it further so in Atlas Office we help people get together immediately in their 3D personalized bodies so that they can comfortably work wherever they are yeah without feeling lonely we’re actually getting over the loneliness problem getting over with I have no friends anymore problem getting over it you know where is everybody I cannot find the problem and we also get over with I’ve worked for 14 hours but nobody is realizing this problem because when we’re working remotely actually the time flies by we say OK I don’t have any time to spend on traffic but yet today for example is my 12th hour awake in front of the computer so this is how we also track you’re OK you need to take some rest moments too.
I think that’s great and I think what I want you to help share with our audience is how this can really help us with space I mean you showed the Mars simulation and meditation but I know there’s a connection with both planning for space travel as well as what will how this could be useful on Mars? So, could you share that space connection with our audience?
Yes exactly, so OK this example is what I actually love. If you have never ever needed to write anything down would we ever need to invent pens? We wouldn’t even need it and wonder it and find it and use it so space is like that space journey is not something somebody is doing we are doing it the humanity the people everybody it doesn’t matter which background you’re coming from it doesn’t matter what information you have it doesn’t matter how experienced or young and you know excited you are all of us has got certain no house and certain valuable actually informations what we do is making people feel themselves in space. We’re taking them and making them experience so that they would start wondering about how to travel there how to take food there have to plant food there to survive there everybody will take certain questions on themselves I’m sure depending on their backgrounds and interests. So, what we do is basically making them feel they can do it they can be a part of the humanities space journey.
I think that’s great and we know traveling to space people will feel like you said the loneliness and being able to connect virtually could be really helpful. So, I want to pivot and ask you about you have a very large you have an international company. So, I think understanding how did you grow to be international? Did you have some partners along the way that helped you? How did you expand globally?
Yeah for sure all my journey actually my biggest supporter is my co-founder Burcin Gurbuz so all the way from the beginning since I joined the team and started these products he’s been supporting me for climbing up the mountains together he has got a huge background of business he completed giant architectural projects from Europe to Asia so with his business experience and knowledge and with my excitement all this way from the beginning we have climbed up the mountains together so I appreciate his support and how we became international is is actually it just happened to be something natural with my actually experience of being a migrating bird leaving from this country to there flying here and there it’s like when we for example you can go to office one day in the morning time and in the evening we can find ourselves in an airplane to Hong Kong which just happened actually without planning it you know we just didn’t even have an idea about if you could go to Hong Kong one day in the timeline or not but so what we do is a cutting edge future technology so our customers that demand is global because we have got a small community that achieve this level of extended realities in this manner we have got global nominations and awards for our applications too and we have got of R&D projects that we have first released in the whole world for example with 5G broadcasting technologies in 360 so when the demand is global we decided to expand our limits at that point we have expanded to at first Northern America to Seattle and to Montreal our headquarters is in Canada Montreal and we had global partners for example from London Denmark Austria and Dubai Hong Kong Singapore and we are all in communication everyday with our global partners sometimes visiting them an expanding this re extended realities technology to the world.
That’s fantastic well that brings me to a really great question with a global company what have been some of the biggest challenges that you and your partner have faced growing your company?
Well at that point the biggest challenge has been for me to be young and woman so there is a perception in the business world like the people to say OK is older aged experienced male people so as a woman I sometimes feel like people are just having the conversation avoiding me just nodding their head to me and making me feel like I’m in the space in between them near them. But in the end what they do is agreeing in between them as the male community so the game is changing now guys so I should tell you we are in the business world and as a woman entrepreneur I can say I can tell you that our execution skills are splendid so be ready to for us to take your spaces.
I think that’s helpful to highlight that the space economy has changed you know from 40 years ago where was government focused and will say primarily male and maybe US and Russia to where it’s totally pivoted now to commercial we need all skill sets from High School graduate PhD young old male female in different regions of the world so diversity is now part of the future of the space ecosystem. So I think you you summarized a great example of that. You’ve also highlighted that you’ve won several awards so I’m not saying that’s going to be what your answers to this next question but what are some of your biggest successes not just with your company but even personally?
Well for my part the personal successes-I come from a family from both mothers and both father’s sides which had no merchants no business people’s no entrepreneurs for ages our families believed in that there are people doing business and we can work with them we can work for them and I was like I can do something so at first it was a shocking thing I was saying I can do something and I was young and I was woman perfect for you you know to scare your greater families so in the beginning everybody was like how it’s gonna happen oh she’s crazy she will learn someday that she will need another job and blah blah but after like let’s say five years time since I started entrepreneurship you should see the change in the faces of people now they feel like they can also do something because they have got an example which is me it’s really hard to achieve something when there are people who are not believing in you around you so you have to believe in your job and you have to believe that you can be something else than they tell so it’s like a battle in your head all the time against the universe because they’re your universe after some point so well yeah for my part I love being a woman young entrepreneur and I love being an example to other young woman’s who wants to be entrepreneurs and who believes in themselves after seeing achieving examples around them.
I think that’s amazing again I’m just going to call you a trailblazer or a space champion thank you and what you’ve done is created a role model and an example for others around the world again male female Turkey Canada Asia you you know being a global woman entrepreneur you’ve set a role model globally so thank you for inspiring future entrepreneurs. What are some of your lessons learned you’d like to share with our audience? Now our audience is both entrepreneurs as well as individuals who are looking for great mentor ship advice. So, I share with you great mentor ship advice or great entrepreneurial lessons learned we’d love to hear your thoughts.
Well yeah exactly so it’s been like five years for my entrepreneurship journey from scratch actually not from scratch even from you know earlier studies then scratch because of the background so here is what I learned experiencing also considering the global journey there is only one single thing that matters in entrepreneurial world it’s about how your product earns so we all start believing in something and believing in achieving it and we say OK the more I believe the more likely it will happen to be successful it’s not going on like that guys so you have to go out to your market and forget that you believe in that and try to test if people believe in that because after all if the only one that believes it is you you can make sure that your product is not going to be successful because it will only have the only person to like it use it and believe in it so wherever geography you are in just make sure you know what your product is and if it will make success or not so you can test it with other customer potentials so for the global part by the way OK that matter that focused idea is the same wherever you go but what differs globally is from West to East from North to South every geographical location has got their own cultures priorities the way they live the way they enjoy life the way they feel sad for so you have to accept that people can be different than you people can value other things than you do they can have other perceptions because they’re coming from all the way different backgrounds and stories and even the food you know so So what you have to respect is what people feel like if you want to set better communications with people before trying to make them accept you you accept them and you understand them if you understand them they will be open to understanding you too.
I think that’s wonderful I mean obviously understanding different cultures and different norms of behavior but you highlighted important part for entrepreneurship which is that marketing feasibility study and then the second part of you know is there a market for what I want to sell is can I raise money financially to create the business and I know you’re an investor as well so tell me about the financials how did you go through your five year process raise money what’s some good advice for our entrepreneurs out there on how you looked at the feasibility of your company financially and then how did you raise the money?
Yeah sure so we are coming from a background where we actually financed ourselves for the beginning years our company my team has been working together for the last 15 years so we were doing architecture back then we were an architectural company so we had another income the profits that we gained from architecture was going for R&D for tech after some point so we can say that we’ve been bootstrapping yourselves for some time. But after some point where we decided not going further for architecture projects and only go with the technology then we started looking for investment for our certain products. Currently we have got investors to our company but the thing is we are on future technology we are called cutting edge so the thing that I’ve just explained recently your success is about have other people believe in you not you believing in the job so it’s pretty hard for us to persuade our customers and our investors and our sales partners once they believe in sky’s the limit literally so but until then it’s really a tough journey you will have people who are not believing in you you will have arrogant people in front of you laughing at you laughing what you do they will try to make go mad they will try to make nervous they will try to push you down no matter if their customers or investors but you will learn standing strong on foot and explaining for some you’ll learn explaining better so that you can capture them for some you will learn doing nothing and leaving the topic there because it’s the best way to reserve your energy for the further journeys and after some point you will learn that there are certain keys to appreciate people everybody has got their own keys when you find it you can open every door so the financial part is also a journey where you need to find the keys for every people so yeah you need to know what they care for what their values are for that they eventually will need of course money in the end they will need to earn in the end but they will have the ways to believe how they should gain this profit so yeah for example on the space part there is a bigger mission than just gaining the profits there’s a mission about humanity there’s a mission about expanding our limits there’s a mission about you know clearing the curiosity’s so at certain fields at certain industries we are more lucky because we have got more believers in future.
Wonderful the other thing I always ask about is advocacy and awareness how important do you think having advocacy and awareness is to your business success or even being an entrepreneur?
Well we are human beings we all have got an instinct not a habit not a joy but an instinct of belonging in to a community where we are accepted and supported this is how we learned living as human beings when we were in the caveman times so we could survive without you know soft bodies we don’t have big you know tools we don’t have giant poles we’re not scary but we had to get together so today we still have got those instincts from psychology to neuroscience backgrounds so for the advocacy and awareness part the more we create communities and tell people that we believe in them the more likely they will succeed the more powerful they will feel because it’s a tough challenge then nobody around you is believing in you yes you can be still successful it’s not mandatory to have communities around you you can be only person on this 8 billion earth to believe this will be done this will be achieved but if you have people around you this will be faster this will be stronger so beat that people to support the people around you no matter what you are doing currently if you’re doing space industry job or just another field it doesn’t matter really just support the people around you don’t tell them how they cannot do it you may think they will fail you may think they will fail hard but just show them the way they can succeed just encourage them about what you think that can be encouraged just go ahead be that person be the believer.
I like that be the believer plus we’ve also learned that sometimes we get so afraid of failure we don’t try or we we try to figure it out and it takes forever to figure out and eliminate all risks sometimes it’s better to try fail learn from it and move on and so I think that’s great advice well but Pinar this has been wonderful as we wrap up today is there anything you want to share with our audience that we didn’t cover?
Well be the believer believe in what you want to do research for it if it fails don’t worry don’t cry I mean it’s gonna it’s gonna be another score in your scoreboard if you’re caring for this because experience is more important than anything in this world so we are as human beings learning from our failures imagine how you learned walking you can’t remember but you can remember you can observe little people those babies they keep falling down falling down and falling down and again falling down until they develop the muscles that know how not to fall down life is a journey at every aspect like that so in business life in your personal life your entrepreneurial life or in your just team life whatever you called you’ll fall down you’ll fall down again fall down the important thing is just taking lesson and finding the way not to fall down then you will be your hero the hero of your journey.
I think that’s amazing and again it highlights that whether it’s in life or it’s being an entrepreneur is about persistence and Pinar that I think that’s a fabulous way to wrap up our interview today with our audience so thank you so much we hope you’ll join us later this fall and tell us an update on where you are with your company.
I would be happy to thank you very much for this conversation Shelli.
You’re very welcome well to our audience if you’re interested in learning more about our space commerce program or watching other entrepreneurial webinars go to spacefoundation.org and check out our space commerce series thank you and we look forward to seeing you again there’s a place for everyone in the new global space ecosystem.
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