This must be the week for encounters with super-bright, young women entrepreneurs. Earlier in the week, Carla wrote about Alicia Navarro’s startup Skimbit. Yesterday, I had a chance to meet for a second time Shanna Tellerman, co-founder and CEO of Sim Ops Studios.
In an industry with far too few women founders, I’m always glad to see a woman leading or even participating on the executive management team of a startup. But gender isn’t enough to elicit coverage (believe, I’ve seen some pretty bad ideas from women founders, just as I have from men). So while Sim Ops Studios may be differentiated by its female founder, it stand out because of its outstanding technology and its vision for the future.
Of the former, I can say that Sim Ops Studios bought the exclusive license to a set of 3D technologies from Carnegie-Mellon University, technology with which Tellerman was deeply involved during undergraduate and graduate studies at the school’s Entertainment Technology Center. That technology is the foundation of the Code3D virtual training technology platform, currently in use by emergency responders and other public agencies to create training simulations. The goal of the platform, Tellerman says, is to let “everyday people create a 3D space.”
Of the latter, I can only say that Sim Ops Studios has some very big plans for the consumer market, plans that will begin to make their way into pubic test applications later this spring.
Of virtual worlds, Tellerman has definite opinions about how 3D spaces need to be delivered in order to break free from the nichey, sometimes freaky, reputation they currently enjoy. Her goal is to create an online space so intuitively simple and inviting that anyone can create a 3D project, from a simple object to an elaborate virtual world.
After looking at the company’s early work with Code3D.com and hearing about the going-forward plan, I think Tellerman and her team have the right stuff to make that goal. There’s plenty of work to be done, not the least of which is to put more structure around this team of smart developers and entrepreneurs. Tellerman is actively working to relocate the company’s headquarters to the Bay Area, while keeping a smart development team working in Pittsburgh. And she’s raising a seed round to fund go-to-market strategy, and she’s looking for business development and consumer marketing talent to round out the executive team. And perhaps this is where being a woman — and being really smart — pays off: Tellerman is clearly very capable, but recognizes that as a first-time entrepreneur, she puts ego aside so that the ambition — to build a large and successful company — can take precedence. If the business can be accelerated by bringing in a strong partner/CEO, she’s ready to do that.
No matter what the make up of Sim Ops Studios’ executive team my ultimately be, this company is on track to bring 3D online spaces to the very mass consumer market.