Mobile VR Hardware: An Interview With Craig Dalton Of Dodocase
November 16, 2016
About Craig Dalton
Craig Dalton is the cofounder and CEO of DODOcase, a San Francisco manufacturer of tablet and phone accessories. DODOcase has emerged as a premier provider of cardboard Virtual Reality Viewers in strategic partnership with Google. A veteran of over 600 Virtual Reality marketing campaigns, Craig and his team have seen a diverse set of implementation strategies. Recently, DODOcase introduced SMARTvr, the world's first fully immersive pocket VR viewer compatible with Android and iOS. An MBA graduate from UC Irvine, Craig has been involved in technology for years helping manage mobile and social media start-ups.
[Yeti] What is the primary problem that Dodocase solves?
[CD] DODOcase VR is in the business of custom VR headsets and logistics. When Brands / Advertisers / Content owners have pursued a VR or 360 Video content strategy, we manage the creation of custom branded VR viewers (both cardboard and premium) and all the logistics of distribution.
[Yeti] How is Dodocase different from other solutions like Powis Parker or Unofficial Cardboard in terms of solving this problem?
[CD] Our focus has always been on quality and execution. This starts with a great internal team focused on our clients' success. From there, we’ve built a US based supply chain that has several distinct advantages. First, for our custom products we operate a HP Indigo 30000 (literally a million dollar machine!), this allows us to achieve an exceptional quality print at any scale. Most of our competitors require runs of 5,000 units or more to achieve the same quality we can on a run of 25 custom VR viewers. Second is scale and turn times — due to our US production, we can achieve remarkable turn times. In a recent project, we were able to deliver 300,000 units within 3 weeks of final art approval. Finally, I’d point out logistics, in our nearly 3 years in the business we’ve helped partners do everything from individual units delivers, to e-commerce solutions to bulk distribution to DCs. We’ve recognized that a cookie cutter approach to client services simply doesn’t suffice which is why we’ve seen and done it all.
[Yeti] What are some examples of how Dodocase has helped companies launch custom branded mobile VR headsets?
[CD] We’ve had the good fortune of working with over 600 clients in the last two years so let me talk about just a few.
Porsche - As a premium automotive brand, Porsche not only wanted a killer content experience, but also a unique viewer that could be mailed to customers. To achieve the uniqueness that the client requested, we built a cardboard viewer with a leather material bonded to it. The result was a one of kind VR viewer that had a premium feel, but retained the low cost and ease of distribution of a cardboard viewer.
Conan O’Brien - For the past two years we’ve partnered with Conan’s team around Comic-Con. Conan wanted his viewers to have ‘the best seat in the house’ so he filmed right from his desk. 30,000 chosen fans and influencers were delivered a custom VR viewer directly from DODOcase. We handled all the logistics providing Conan with a one-stop partner for all the hardware execution details.
Budweiser / Cleveland Cavaliers - During the Cav’s historic recent run at the championship, Budweiser captured some on the court 360 footage to bring the fans into the game. Simply handing out viewers was not enough for the team at Bud who desired a more integrated experience. To achieve that end we designed an insert that turned the faceplate of our viewer into a 2 beer holder. We jokingly called the project Beer Goggles.
[Yeti] What are a few areas where you see virtual reality really taking off near-term? How about long-term?
[CD] We continue to see a large number of campaigns using VR for brand marketing. This makes sense in the short term as brands will get great value in delivering a user’s first VR experience. Marketers are creating a sense of wow and wonderment in their VR activations which leads to social sharing.
Beyond the brand marketing opportunities is where we are seeing some really exciting stuff happen in vertical markets. VR has been called the ultimate empathy engine. It has a unique ability to transport the user in a way that no other medium before it has. This fact is making it very interesting in Education, Travel, and Entertainment. Imagine a classroom of students learning about Europe and being able to to step inside the Vatican. It’s really exciting to think about how that type immersion will help crystalize the learning process.
[Yeti] What are common mistakes you've seen companies make when venturing into VR for the first time? Also, what are some common misconceptions that companies have about VR?
[CD] It's really easy right now to get caught up in the hype of VR and overshoot the mark. The reality is that we are still in the early days of VR awareness in the mass market. With this knowledge, I recommend that clients take a measured approach to their activations. You’d be foolish to spend $500,000 creating promotional content today. I’m a big believer in creating simple snackable content as you expose your audience to VR for the first time. You don’t give a first time driver a Porsche, so why would you give a VR newbie more than they need. When you watch users enjoy VR for the first time, there is always that moment, the ‘VR Smile’ that appears when you get them to turn their head for the first time. As a marketer, this is the moment you are looking for. Create short pieces to start, build the audience, then move to more longer form experiences. I strongly advocate targeting the smartphone VR market first before looking at the home based systems.
[Yeti] What advice would you give to a company that is about to create its first VR experience? How can custom headsets help them succeed?
[CD] As I mentioned above, simplicity is key at first. Depending on the brand's vision for VR (short or long term), you need to expect you’ll need to bring a full solution to customers first. You should budget for both the content creation and the distribution of custom headsets to a portion of your target audience. You’ll need to build triggers that encourage these users to share their experiences and allow new users who download the experience easy ways to obtain a VR headset. It is important to partner with companies on the creation and distribution side who understand the marketing objectives of the campaign. Building the content is only the first step, leveraging awareness is the critical next step. DODOcase’s custom viewers play an important role in getting the ball rolling.
[Yeti] Thanks Craig!