The economic downturn promises growth for Irish virtual reality company Engage XR, says CEO David Whelan

The head of virtual reality firm Engage XR is hoping the economic slowdown will bring new business and says the tech talent crisis hasn’t hurt the recent hiring frenzy.

Aterford-based CEO David Whelan believes the forthcoming launch of his version of the Metaverse will prove a draw for workers.

“It’s a bit easier for us to hire technicians because they’re passionate about what they’re going to work on, rather than working in a pharmaceutical company or a financial company, and they work on a project for two years,” said the CEO of the fully remote Irish listed company.

Losses in the first half of this year were driven by staff costs, but the company, which offers virtual classrooms and meeting rooms to educators and businesses, is on track to turn a profit in 2024.

“The cost is a bit higher, not significantly higher, because we are all working remotely. But if we were based in Dublin and had to pay Dublin salaries? Yes, that would be difficult,” said Mr Whelan.

Engage is positioning itself to help businesses cut costs after a pandemic boom in remote work caused revenue to surge 200 percent over the past year.

“In every challenge there is definitely opportunity,” said Mr. Whelan Irish Independent after the company released its half-year results on Tuesday.

“We see a downturn in the economy as another opportunity to actually move things forward. We’re busier than ever.”

The group’s half-year revenue increased 41 percent to €1.76 million compared to the same period in 2021, with revenue for the virtual platform Engage – the company’s flagship product – rising 62 percent to €1.46 million.

The group made a pre-tax loss of 2.8 million euros in the first six months of this year, more than double last year’s losses on rising staff costs as the company went on a hiring spree.

What we’re talking about here is the evolution of the internet from a standard 2D solo experience

But Mr Whelan is “confident” that the group will turn a profit in 2024 and surpass its 2025 sales target of €10m.

His optimism comes as the group has added more than 50 new clients so far this year, including transport and logistics company Kuehne + Nagel, carmaker Kia and French investment bank Natixis, bringing its total corporate base to around 180.

Engage recently helped launch 10 virtual universities with funding from Facebook, which also uses the company’s platform for its own online events. Other customers include the consumer goods giant Unilever, the US conglomerate 3M and the consulting firms Accenture, PwC and KPMG.

Engage Link – his Metaverse offering – is weeks away from launch and will take the platform from an internal corporate resource to a virtual public world.

“What we’re talking about here is the evolution of the internet from a standard 2D solo experience where you’re alone and sitting at your computer looking at a screen, to a shared social experience where you we walk with other people through virtual spaces,” said Mr. Whelan.

“We’re going to have these always-on sites. You can sell services. You can sell products to people when they visit this place and you can host public events.

“This is really a big change and then opens up new opportunities for revenue generation.”

https://www.independent.ie/business/technology/economic-downturn-promises-growth-for-irish-virtual-reality-firm-engage-xr-says-chief-executive-david-whelan-41987183.html The economic downturn promises growth for Irish virtual reality company Engage XR, says CEO David Whelan

Fry Electronics Team

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