After the pandemic, technologies related to the metaverse and virtual spaces continue to advance, presenting us with virtual offices, virtual showrooms, and other real-world-like or even improved designs in the virtual space.
For example, events are held in virtual spaces designed to resemble real-world department stores, offering an experience similar to actual shopping. These events aim to revive physical shopping experience or create a more enjoyable shopping experience by implementing designs that may be challenging to achieve in the real world. Additionally, in contrast to the spatial constraints of physical department stores, where diverse brand placements can be difficult, events in the metaverse allow gathering desired brands in one place, providing an advantage for comparing and exploring all desired items.
In October 2023, the specialized metaverse spatial development studio MBUS703 (Co-CEO: Nho Chiwook and Ha Seok-jun) opened and operated the metaverse version of ‘Sunae Shopping,’ called ‘Metaverse Sunae Shopping,’ at Lotte Department Store Bundang Branch for a week, from October 6th to 12th.
MBUS703 utilized the 3D User-Generated Content (UGC) platform ‘Spacial’ to create the space and, through integration with offline department store events, provided customers with immersive and diverse experiences.
Nho Chiwook and Ha Seok-jun, the representatives of MBUS703 with a background in design, are creators in the metaverse space art who go beyond simply implementing virtual spaces. They are a creative company that combines IT technology with artistic sensibility, realizing the ‘creator economy.’ I had the opportunity to meet the two representatives, Nho Chiwook and Ha Seok-jun.
Q. Tell us about the unique services of MBUS703 in metaverse space creation led by designers, distinguishing it from other metaverse companies.
In the past, we were individually engaged in activities as contemporary artists and became connected through our artistic endeavors. Recognizing our compatibility in creative collaboration, we decided to turn this synergy into a business venture and co-founded the company.
Not only do we create metaverse spaces, but we also engage in artistic endeavors as a media art studio. While continuing our artistic activities, we have expanded our business scope to include marketing services, taking on commissions from other companies and organizations.
In the early stages, due to the constraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, we found ourselves unable to exhibit our work in physical spaces. Faced with this challenge, we contemplated how to introduce our activities to a larger audience still. This led to the inception of our involvement in metaverse spaces. Placing our artwork here and organizing virtual gatherings, we officially embarked on our business journey in the metaverse.
Although art and business are different, finding a balance between them can lead to a greater leap forward.
Q. Business and art are different fields; did you encounter any challenges?
Artistic work tends to be somewhat intuitive. Ideas can come to mind while playing or suddenly arise even while sleeping, and you can act on them or let them go just as easily. However, in business, it doesn’t work that way. If I suddenly decide I don’t like it and leave, who will take care of the team? Unlike art, business can be seen as more logical.
However, if you can strike a good balance between these two aspects, you can find a business model that allows for a more significant leap and be more proactive.
Q. What is a memorable activity for you?
We recently exhibited in Montreal, Canada. We participated in a special exhibition commemorating the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Korea and Canada. We are planning a larger-scale exhibition at the Pohang City Museum of Art at the end of September as an extended version of the previous exhibition. Continuously, we are striving to approach the concept of how the metaverse itself can become a platform for art.
Furthermore, if given the opportunity, we are making continuous efforts to promote overseas, aiming to establish metaverse technology as a well-utilized platform for a new art form.
The projects we are currently undertaking, such as the Gyeonggi Content Agency initiative, involve a Proof of Concept (PoC) collaboration with the Lotte Department Store Bundang Branch. In this initiative, we support creating the services Lotte aims to offer through the metaverse.
In this way, I believe that in the future, metaverse technology will become an indispensable part of everyday life. It is likely that utilizing metaverse spaces will become as essential as using smartphones, and I anticipate its development in a form that expands into the global market.
Q. Specifically, how has metaverse technology become closely intertwined with the real world?
In the field of art, the metaverse is expanding through immersive experiences using VR and XR technologies. For artists, there has been a barrier to entry, ranging from simply learning IT skills.
Especially in XR, it’s not just about technology; artistic experience must be applied. If this leads to the emergence of new art forms, I am positive about it, considering it as a positive expansion of domestic digital content.
Q. As a content company integrated with art, what are the advantages of Pangyo Techno Valley?
The road in front of the corporate support hub with a metaverse hub is the path I’ve been taking for 20 years. Watching the buildings go up, I thought it was impressive, and we were fortunate enough to move in and use that space.
The ‘M’ in MBUS703 represents the Gyeonggi Province (Gyeonggi-do) bus system, and we decided on ‘ MBUS703’ by incorporating the ‘M’ and using our office floor number at the time, which was 703.
And our team members also prefer this location. The market is not only vast and dynamic but also highly customizable to digital media. Furthermore, we aim to generate innovative ideas for the global expansion of XR as an art platform from this location.
Additionally, there are many opportunities to communicate and collaborate with other startups, providing the chance to receive support for corporate growth.
Q. As an experienced entrepreneur who ventured into a new field, could you please share some words of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Rather than just having determination to start, you need foresight and experience to see ahead. Instead of just pushing with determination, listen to the stories of various people around you so that you can gain insights from different perspectives.
If you feel that you lack experience in your 20s, engage in conversations and communication with people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s—individuals from diverse age groups. Listen to their opinions from different perspectives and be prepared to consider alternative viewpoints.
The goal is to grow into a global specialized content company like Pixar Studio.
Q. What is the ultimate goal of MBUS703?
My goal is to establish a studio like Pixar Studio. It involves bringing together experts in every field, collaborating from the creative process to production.
Even before Steve Jobs acquired Pixar, it started with 3D content creators coming together. Eventually, it was industrially integrated, and gained recognition with works like Toy Story, and the goal is for MBUS703 to become a specialized studio, creating content up to recent elemental films.
For inquiries and connections with Korean tech companies mentioned in this article, contact us at [email protected]. We’re here to facilitate valuable partnerships.
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