Timelooper: Yigit Yigiter
The founder on how working in a start-up helped him to launch his own and why innovation in technology has enabled him to follow his childhood dream
Name: Yigit Yigiter
Company name: Timelooper
Date launched: 22/07/2015
Tell us what your business does:
People visiting famous locations often don’t get a real sense of history or importance as they see attractions through the prism of one-dimensional content such as tour guides, guide books and audio recordings. Timelooper addresses this through a mobile location-based virtual reality time travel app that transports visitors to the most memorable moments of amazing places.
Visitors no longer need to imagine what it was like during the great fire of London or the Blitz, they use their phones to experience it around them. Timelooper creates value by producing and hosting immersive, educational and entertaining content.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
In August of 2014, my wife (who works at Google) brought a Google cardboard virtual reality (VR) headset to home. At that moment, I started connecting the dots. 360-degree virtual reality videos give people the feeling of being in a different place.
I want to help people feel like they are in a different place, at a different time. Six months after that day that I realised all of the pieces were in place to bring my vision to life on smartphones everywhere, I quit my job and launched Timelooper with film director Alper Ozyurtlu.
How did you know there was a market for it?
Every year, more than 500 million people visit thousands of historical locations to get a glimpse of the incredible scenes and memorable moments that took place there. However, visitors struggle with learning the true historic and cultural meaning of a place.
Site managers struggle with trying to attract visitors to their sites in an increasingly competitive tourism market. This is where Timelooper comes in – by creating visually-compelling and historically-accurate videos to make site visits more immersive, educational, and entertaining.
What were you doing before starting up?
I worked at various consumer and technology firms such as Unilever, Dell and SK Telecom. I later worked for an educational technology start-up – FastPath Learning. This allowed me to gain valuable start-up experience and expertise in delivering products and services with an educational element.
Prior to start Timelooper in 2015, I served as the chief marketing officer of Turkey’s largest security systems company. I have lived and worked in the United States, Italy, South Korea, Russia and Turkey, and I hold a MBA degree from Harvard Business School.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Timelooper was my childhood dream. During my travels with my grandparents, it dawned on me that there should be a better way to tell history.
I shared my vision first in my application essay to Harvard Business School in 2006, although the technology required wasn’t there to support my idea.
How did you raise the money?
So far we are self-financed however we’re in the process of raising money to help expand our business.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
Our partnership-driven business model is based on both free and premium content.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
Getting access to the right technology and people to make to make sure that we created the best business we could. We’ve joined the MassChallenge which is one of the world’s largest accelerators for high potential start-ups.
It’s really helped kick start how we developed the app. It’s also provided free office space, advice and access to investors which has made a world of difference.
What was your first big breakthrough?
After building the app and creating all the content it was a big moment when we finally seen it get used by people for the first time. On launch day we invited customers to three locations in London to try out Timelooper and the feedback we got was really positive.
It was amazing to see my childhood dream come to life and have people experiencing historic moments.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
You need to remain driven in order to make a difference. It’s what motivates entrepreneurs in the first place. As an entrepreneur, you are trying to change the status quo to bring a vision to life, so your drive and determination are what will see you through the challenges.
Where do you want to be in five years' time
In five years’ time we would like to have one billion annual video views.