Simon: [00:00:00] Good afternoon and welcome to the conference room. I am joined today by Karen Mendoza. Karen is the VP of Sales at Dbox Technologies, the world leader in haptics and immersive motion technology. She’s a graduate of UCLA and has an MBA from Pepperdine GRA Business School
She serves as a board member at Legendary Shifts, llc, a human connection company with a portfolio of brands like the gang truck licensing and bravest eSports. Today. Just a few Prior to Legendary Shift, Karen spent a decade and a half at Nin. Of the global gaming giants and helps launch several console and portable hardware systems, as well as hundreds of software games and accessories
And I am delighted that she’s found time in her incredibly busy schedule to find time to come and talk to us here at the conference room. So Carol Mendoza, good [00:01:00] afternoon and welcome to the conference room.
Karen: I’m so excited to be here, Simon. I can’t wait, for, the conversation today. And, let’s, let’s have, let’s have some fun
Simon: Let’s have some fun. Let’s dig right in. So my first question is, You are the hero of our story, and every hero has an origin story. So tell me, how did you get from graduating UCLA through your time in Nintendo to now doing what you are doing, with the, haptic technology?
Karen: Yes. At D Box, the, D box technology based in Montreal
So how did I go from being an immigrant from the Philippines, which is where I come from, coming to the US going through college at ucla. And then, some, some, some fun times at Nintendo, all the way to D Box, the, the haptics immersive technology, as you, as you mentioned. Yes. My origin story is, is, is hopefully a, an interesting one, but for, for many [00:02:00] people, maybe not as unique
As I would like to believe, like I mentioned, my, my family and I immigrated when I was six years old coming from, the Philippines, which is, situated in Southeast Asia. We came and settled in San Francisco, California, which is where I reside now. And, all growing. In the early eighties to, the nineties, technology was all around me, right? And, and being based in the Bay Area, Silicon Valley, San Francisco at the hub and the center of, some of the world’s, best and brightest technologies. It really exposed me to all sorts of cool products, all sorts of cool, different innovations. and when I had the, the, the, the, the, the, the opportunity to study down in Los Angeles for, for [00:03:00] ucla
You know, first of all, at, at that age, I was, I was so looking forward to my independence away from my parents’ home. And so college life for me was definitely, kind of my, my, my new taste of freedom, right? A as a, as a young adult. But at UCLA I studied economics. I was. A bio, a biology major. I, I, I had this idea of going into medicine and becoming a doctor
I think that was the, the family pressure and the, the, the, the notion there that I, I was gonna be in the sciences, but then I discovered economics and just the business side of, of looking at the world in, in macroeconomics all the, geopolitical environmental. Things that happen. And as well as I enjoyed the microeconomics, you know, from, from personal finance and all of that
And that completely made more sense to [00:04:00] me than organic chemistry. . Mm-hmm. . So therefore I switched. But after I graduated, I had the fortune of, and the pleasure of, interning. At 20th Century Fox, the, the Home Entertainment Division, at that point, they were starting a, a, a bit of an experiment to start their own video game company
And the year that this happened was right around 97, 19 97, 19 98, right before. Kind of the Sega Dreamcast came out right before, the next sort of wave of, of second generation consoles were coming out, and it was at Fox Interactive and Fox Sports Interactive that I really fell in love, even more in love with
Video games and this consumer technology product that was completely, changing, changing the game, changing the world. And, I, I was [00:05:00] sucked in. I was, I was really in love with the business of video games. And I did that, for about three years until Fox, themselves realized that it was more profitable for them to license their, their
Their properties, their fox and home properties like die hard, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, like XFiles, these great properties that belonged to Fox. It was more profitable to license it out to other, more developed gaming studios. And therefore the early two thousands I find I, I found myself out. Job. I got laid off along with the other, members of the team and it was then that I said, I wanna stay in video games and the best place, the best way for me to stay in video games was to chase down and, and try [00:06:00] to knock on the doors of Microsoft or Nintendo
In Redmond, Washington. Right. Cause I knew, I knew that in 2001 they were both launching their next, gaming console for the Xbox. It was their original Xbox, console. And then for Nintendo, it was gonna be the. The successor to N 64, which, in 2001, Nintendo was just about to launch the Game. Cube game
Yeah. So that was my mission. I had no, I had no job secured. I had no apartment, you know, thought out. I just packed up my little Honda Civic drove up from. To Los Angeles, to Seattle, Washington, and I started knocking on doors at Microsoft and Nintendo. Sure enough, I get, an open door, an opening at Nintendo, and once I got my foot in the door, I, I started to kind of internally network at Nintendo and they [00:07:00] saw that I was skilled and I knew, this industry, the, the video game industry
And, from there, I, I had the pleasure of, working at Nintendo for about 15 years in various aspects of the sales and marketing division of Nintendo of America. So, Was definitely a formative, time of my career to have learned from, from the, the, the global gaming giants and, and a great brand like Nintendo, but also sort of the, the, the how to work cross-functionally and, and how to also work
The parent company based in Japan, because Nintendo is a Japanese based company. And so there’s, there’s some additional layers of, approvals that need to happen when that happens. So, that, that brings me to the 15 year career. How I got to the D Box is basically, I, well I had a little bit of a stint [00:08:00] in between Nintendo and D Box that I worked for a small company, well, small, but they are big in terms of the franchise world
It’s called Game Truck. It is one of the brands under Legendary Shift, which is I, which I’m a board member of, but Game Truck is basically a. An entertainment company where they, bring the game party to people’s homes. They do about 30,000 events per year. An amazing company, 100 trucks and trailers throughout the us and I got a chance to be with them from 2019 to through the pandemic
We survived as an entertainment, live entertainment company, survived through the. And even innovated and made our business even stronger post pandemic. But it was after that, that D box kind of sought me out and said, we, we are looking for somebody with your skill set.[00:09:00] Who has the consumer market background, who’s into technology and who can
Build and accelerate our, our product roadmap, our our D box roadmap for the future. So that’s how I got it. Apologies for the long ramps.
Simon: Oh, all that’s amazing. That really is, and I’ve gotta tell you. Yeah. The, yeah, the idea of you. You know, packing your Honda Civic and driving, you know, up the highway from, from Los Angeles to Seattle with no plan and no, you know, no idea of whether it was gonna work, but just kind of jumping off the cliff and, you know, hoping that you’d be able to swim is, is amazing
It really is. So, you know, good for you and obviously, you know, you made the right. So here we go.
Karen: Well, you know, and, and for, for the young people in the audience, in your listening audience. I mean, you know, it, it’s, it’s basically. Being self aware of what your risk [00:10:00] tolerances are back then, I had no kids, no husband, no, no one to, to hold me back except for my, my, my dad, my mom, my friends who said, you’re crazy
Don’t do that. What are you doing? But I knew that they were going to be my safety net. Right. I could always go back home to San Francisco if I failed, but sometimes you have to take those big risks to, to get the big rewards in the end.
Simon: Absolutely, absolutely. And yeah, fair play. And clearly it was, yeah, it was, it was the right call
So, I wanna talk about your time an Nintendo, but before we do, talk to me a little bit about Debars and what haptics and immersive motion is and, and, and how it kinda plays a part in your, in how it’s played a part in your career.
Karen: Yes, so D Box Haptics, let me start first with a definition of haptics, technologies
If you own an Android phone or an iPhone, iOS Apple phone, you, you probably see in your [00:11:00] settings where you can set and if you have a, an Apple watch, You might, be, be familiar with the basics of haptics, where it’s this feeling and sensation of, of, of, of, of kind of using, your, your touch senses to kind of as reminders as, as, as a buzzer, as a vibration At D Box, we
Kind of that basic haptic technology and put it on steroids because we’re not just doing vibrations. We are doing, mo we’re adding motion. So motion side to side forward backwards, depending on the number of actuators or this, this hardware technology, we, we, we implement, we can. Go up to six degrees of, of motion or six degrees of freedom, right? So if you think about flight simulators or racing simulators out there, they do [00:12:00] multiple access or multiple actuators that allow them to provide that realism, of, of either flying a real plane or driving a real car. Race, car, road, car, what have you. And so, so there’s really three, three innovative areas in haptics that that D box, develops
It’s, it’s the motion, like I talked about, the degrees of freedom. It’s the texture. So if, if you could imagine driving, on the road and if you, hit some gravel, you can feel that graininess or that gravel feeling. D box can replicate that realistic gravel feel versus when you go on the cemented road
So motion, texture, and vibration. Vibration is that basic level that you, that you can see on an Apple Watch and iPhone and all of that. So combining all together, D Box creates. [00:13:00] Or Yeah, we recreate the, the encoding, what we call encoding to make, Entertainment or educational content, like I said, the professional simulators and whatnot, but entertainment content like movies, top Gun Maverick, which just came out last summer, was one of the best D Box encoded movies we’ve ever done
We’re also doing it with Avatar one, the re-release, so you can kind of feel, so you may know the storyline of Avatar or Top Gun, but to now feel the sensation of you actually being in the cockpit or being. In, in, in the battle royal of, of avatar is a whole different experience. So that’s what we’re doing and and it’s super fun and it really takes, for me, it takes all of my experience in creating
Engaging gaming content like with Nintendo. Nintendo is all [00:14:00] about family fun for kids of all ages. You know, five to 95 or five to 105 cause people are living longer now. It takes that type of. Very engaging, fun content. Entertaining, entertaining content. And now at D Box, we can even, you know, take it to the next level
And hopefully with like the likes of Mario Cart and, and Smash Brothers or a game like Zelda, we can start to add some, some haptics and immersive motion. Simulation in that game. We’ll see.
Simon: That’s amazing. I mean, so, so I mean, my only sort of connection point really with, with, as you were describing haptics and immersive motion technology is, you know, walking through the mall with my kids and then there’s like, like a Jurassic Park style ride where you go in, you put on the glasses and you sit in the chair, you strap in, and then the movie is being, Through the, [00:15:00] the VR and then the, the chair is kind of tilting or moving, I’m guessing that’s probably like a, a generation or so behind what D Box is doing right now
Is that right?
Karen: That’s right. We actually, one of the verticals that we are in, one of the industries that we’re in is themed attractions. We, we have a couple of, projects that we’ve done with Universal Studios Hollywood. But your, your example there with the Jurassic Park Ride, yes. It’s, it’s similar to that because
That’s one of the verticals that we support. But yeah, if you, it’s all about that multisensory experience to give it that realistic feel. Right? So the visual, the audio, the, and then where we come in is the, The, the, the, the motion and, and the touch, aspect of it. The, the feeling, because there are multiple nerves all up and down the body, right? And so we wanna activate that to give it a [00:16:00] fully immersive and engaging, experience for, for the user in whatever application.
Simon: Right. That’s amazing. So I guess, whether, whether drawing from your experience here at D Box or, or prior to, with the, the, the game truck, operational or of course your time in Nintendo, A consistent theme that seems to run through your career is bringing innovative products to a mass market. Okay? Sometimes you have the benefit of an existing property behind you, like launching a game, like back in your Fox days, launching a game will have them launch a game around, an existing movie like diehard, for example. Mm-hmm. , or, or a TV show like the XFiles. So there’s brand recognition to an extent, albeit cross recognition where, oh, I saw the movie, I, I’ll recognize that movie when I consider playing the get or buying the game. But whether you are.[00:17:00] Borrowing or, or drawing from an existing parallel property, like a game from an existing TV show, or you’re launching something new like, you know, super Smash Brothers, an Nintendo
Okay. What are the key problems that you typically would, encounter and how would you go about overcoming.
Karen: Yes, yes. I’ll give, two. Two examples to an, to answer your question. One is on, kind of the product and the technology challenge, right? Like you mentioned, it could be, a well known, recognizable
Franchise already. Mario Pikachu, Luigi already recognizable. So there’s already some inherent value in whatever Mario’s gonna be doing, whether it’s Mario Cart, Mario Tennis, Mario, whatever. There’s, there’s, there’s already a, a [00:18:00] kind of a built. Audience, a built in community, a built in past learnings of launching that recognizable brand
And, and so for, for that, the challenge is how do we honor that? So honor honoring it, meaning how do we launch that so that we don’t. We don’t mess up or, or, where we’re treating the brand or that franchise.
Simon: Right. You don’t alien, you don’t alienate your audience, right? Correct. Right. And as far as like, the Muppets for example, they had a TV show about four or five years ago, those quiet adults and there were some
Viewers of the, of the TV show that felt somewhat alienated because suddenly you’ve got, you’ve got Fuzy Bear having a girlfriend and you’ve got That’s right. You know, Kermit, you know, having a girlfriend and mis and it, and it was all very, it, it, it was a brave decision that they took to do that, but it did, it, it wasn’t the kind of normal kind of family friendly stuff that’s, The, [00:19:00] a traditional Muppet fan would’ve expected
Okay. Right. So, so when you are, for example, looking to launch a New Mario game, okay. I’m sure you’re not gonna have, I mean, you have to, like you say, honor the, the tradition of what Mario has stood for since, I mean, I bought my first Mario game in probably 81, 82 when I was like seven years old, right? So how do you make those decisions?
Karen: So the, the, the great thing about Nintendo and, and Mario as a brand specifically is that, and, and I would say this to be true of the video game and the gaming community, they are allowed and, and. Critical audience and, and they’ll share their, their feedback both in the fan artwork and the, and what they wanna see, from a mario, game or mario, product
[00:20:00] And, and you know, to me and, and to the teams in, at Nintendo, they’re taking all of those inputs right? To, to, to say, well, what does the audience, what does our, what do our fans expect of this type of product? There’s also the, the technology and innovation teams. At Nintendo and other organizations that wanna bring to market whatever next evolution or next innovation
And, and they have to balance out, again, honoring the brand, making sure it’s realistic to that franchise, that brand, but also pushing the envelope so that it is, it is getting them closer, getting them to, to evolve. The the product, technology and innovation because you have to believe that there’s a innovation roadmap for
Any organization that they wanna head [00:21:00] towards. A certain, kind of new way of, you know, before it used to be, it used to be wired controllers, right? It used to be wired, then it became wireless. Then it became with the, Wii, this, this wireless with motion activated, you know, we remotes, right? If you remember the
Wii sports and, and bowling. Wii bowling and we tennis. So, you know,
Simon: I can tell you a very quick story. I love this. Right? So, my son was, I think two years old when we got our first week. Yes. I, I loved the, we, I adored the we. Me too. It’s all-time favorite still. Yeah. My favorite gaming platform. And, my, I had a friend who was a, a semi-professional box
Right. I mean, he was, he was really good. He won regional boxing championships. Yes. And, if he’s listening to this, he knows, he knows the story I’m about to tell. He came over one night and we were just about to put my son to [00:22:00] bed and my son was playing We Yeah, the, the we Sport boxing. Yes. And he played against my friend who was the box
And he, you only got three goes. It was like three knockouts and you won. That’s right. My friend tried several times to win one of these mini matches against my two year old. Cause all my two year olds was going, it’s the screener going, it’s, this is hard for a podcast. But wa waving his hands back and forth very quickly
And my friend who was the box that was trying to box properly and couldn’t lay a punch on him, it was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. So, anyway, , I just don that
Karen: and, and, and those are some of the more epic like storytelling, you know, stories I’ve heard about, you know, the, the, the, the underdog, you know
The young versus the old, or, or maybe not so old, but more experienced. And it’s always,
Simon: it was the most wonderful thing where my then two year old was destroying professional boxer. This professional boxer. Yes. Anyway, just thought I’d share, that.
Karen: [00:23:00] No, that’s great. That’s great. And, and those are the, those are the, the, the golden nugget stories that Nintendo loves to hear about
Right? Because it is about, you know, making ages five to 95, 5 to 105. Anybody can play it and anybody can be good. Does it matter your age, your gender, your ethnicity, your income? We all can enjoy it. Right, exactly. So, so that’s, so if I wanna circle back, because I had two examples. That was one example of a known brand, right
And so making sure that there’s, intentional. In terms of product design and, and, and making sure there’s also interaction and engagement, a give and take with the fan community because, they’re gonna be vocal if they don’t like that new product you come out with.
Simon: Before we come onto the second, before we come onto the second Yes
Example, just sort of drilling into this for a second. how would you go about, Pushing the envelope in [00:24:00] terms of innovation. So for example, I think probably a great example of this is the decision that was taken. How, how involved in this decision or not you were, I’m not sure, but the decision that was taken, the taking Mario from the sort of fantasy type games where he was trying to, you know, avoid the monster, save the Princess, and that kinda traditional, if you like, platform
Treasure seeking monster, avoiding Quest games that he was most traditionally associated with. Certainly for probably the end of 20 years to let’s put in playing tennis. Let’s put in racing, let’s put in doing these other things where it could have been a conventional tennis game with, you know, Roger Rogered, or probably back then Andre Agassi, where let’s take Mario in it
Let’s take a conventional racing game instead of having Michael Schumacher or. You know, you know, whoever of, of that era, let’s put Mario in there. Right? Right. So [00:25:00] that decision was very innovative of we’ll take Mario from his normal setting to something completely different where we’re still gonna, if you like, walk that tight rope of innovation yet still respecting the tradition of what Mario is
Right. How, how did, how did. Decision process take place. Karen:It it’s a very, it’s, it’s, it’s a, it is the heart of the business decision at Nintendo because Mario games for a very long time, up until, I wanna say 20 16, 20 17. So recently, right up until that time, Mario, Games can only be played on Nintendo gaming consoles and gaming devices
The, the, you know, home console or the portable game, boy DS three Ds. And it was, [00:26:00] it’s almost, think of it as an exclusivity, right? Mario can only be exclusively played on Nintendo, device. Well, here comes Apple with their, you know, a game changing, world changing iOS systems and the iPhone, the iPad, and all of that, and they’re now bringing these snack, what, what we used to like to call it Nintendo snacks of entertainment
It was never fully immersive. Candy Crush and all solitaire, whatever you’re playing on your mobile devices weren’t, we never thought them to be competitor to a more immersive and engaging game, like a full on. Puzzle solver with Mario titles or any other Nintendo game, right? What happened in 20 16, 20 15, 20 16 was during an Apple keynote where, back then, was it Tim Cook or, yeah, it was Tim Cook, [00:27:00] apple, apple ceo and our, Mr
Shigeru Miyamoto. The, the, the, the great legendary, he’s still alive, so living legend of a game designer of Nintendo. Walked on stage together to say, now, you know, super Mario Run is now available on iOS devices. And that was so game changing because now all of the installed base of iOS users and Apple users, if they’ve never heard or
A module game in their life, now they have access to it. Now they can download it from the Apple, you know, iOS store and make that a point of discovery. So for Nintendo, it was, for a very long time in the 130 year history. Can you believe that they’ve been around as a company for 130 years? This is, this, in my mind is the, the [00:28:00] difference between
Yeah. Asian businesses or eastern way of, of, of go to market strategies versus western ways and American ways of going to bus, going to do business, they think in decades and centuries. Right. Versus, you know, the end of the pool quarterly and the hits of, of, of quick wins. But, but so, so the Mario decision on why not just, Roger Federer in a Mario Tennis or, Louis Hamilton in a, in a racing game
Well, they can do that. And we, and, and Nintendo has done that with third party game developers. But when you bring Mario or Luigi or any one of these franchise lovable characters that only Nintendo can, can do, and can, can design for, Well now that brings the level of quality to attention, to detail, and again, honoring that [00:29:00] that particular fandom and that that character has to be owned and
Managed by the brilliant minds that only Nintendo technology teams can provide. So it’s an ownership and it’s a, it’s a product design decision that’s, and it’s a business decision, right? Because if it’s exclusive to just the Nintendo platforms, then hey, if you wanna play Mario, you have to buy an Nintendo platform
So you get the console and the game bundled in. Now as, as Nintendo tries to spread their, their, their, their goodness and their fun and their entertainment across the world, they’re now looking at different distribution channels, you know, mobile devices being one of them, universal, their, their partnership with Universal on theme parks and, and soon to be the movie, you know, Mario movie that’s coming out
These are all. Part of that [00:30:00] decade long and centuries long strategy to make sure that Nintendo is a, is a is has staying power. And, and, and recog recognition, at all, at any point of discovery for the consumer. Right. So it was a very intentional decision for sure.
Simon: Right. That’s great. Okay. You were gonna mention a second example
Karen: Oh, the other, the other, so recognizable brand and then the, unrecognizable so no one ever knows. For D Box, this is, this is the world that I live in today. My day to day life is, you know that we, we at D Box Technologies, while we are in, we, we, we have 20,000 motion activated cinema seats throughout the world
We, we are in 800 movie. Theaters, around the world, in the us for those of you listening, cinema Mark is one of our main, partners, key partners in the us and then if you are in Canada, CEX [00:31:00] Canada is one of our, is another key partner, and you can go to any one of their theaters and experience D Box C
But in our other verti, you know, in the other D. Business segments. The, the, the, the notion of how to incorporate immersive and realistic experiences, for their products or for their brand. Because we work with a lot of brand companies that really, are looking at, at innovating their experiential market
You know, events and whatnot to, so that it, it, there’s, they can be memorable to every consumer touchpoints. Where I think, so the unrecognizable brand, I’ll, I’ll, I’ll, I’ll use D boxes, un unrecognizable brand. So how do we go about to develop a roadmap, a product roadmap of where we wanna go? Well, first we have to, in a way, level.[00:32:00] The, the, the, the audience and, and, and the, and the people we’re talking to, with, again, the, the fundamentals of haptics. The, the what’s, what are the benefits, what are the advantages? What is the future of. Of haptics in their day to day life, because at the end of the day, it’s, it’s about utility, of, of that product or that service
How is it, how is it going to help me, be more efficient in my day to day? How is it going to be? You know, more, more memorable for me as a brand company. So these are all things that we have to answer and address and really build a case for. So it’s a way different go to market strategy and there’s a lot more input and listening that we have to do, so that we build, a product or a product strategy, or service strategy, cuz we
In development of a D Box as a service, right? [00:33:00] So we, we build a strategy that definitely addresses some of the concerns or some of the needs and, and that can address a core need of the, the organizations, the brands, the products, the people, the end users that we’re serving. So that it, it sounds simple to do, but no, it’s not simple because there’s
Everybody has different core needs and, and really you gotta have, we have to find the one that, you know, stays true to what we can do. In the technology we’re developing for. So
Simon: that’s fa absolutely fascinating. And, and I think what’s interesting, particularly when you’re talking about, D Box partnering up with, with cinema and, and, and providing the, haptic immersive experience for movies like you mentioned, Toga Maverick and, and the rerelease of, of Avatar that, Pushing the envelope when it comes to the cinematic experience has been something that, the, you know, people have been trying [00:34:00] to do some successfully, some less successfully since, you know, time in Memorial
I mean, in, in the, back I think 1930s, 1940s, there was some innovative. Movie theaters that in a horror movie, they would have like buzzers in the back of the seat, or Yes. Items would drop from the ceiling, right? Yes. Through to, you know, the resurgence or the attempted, resurgence of, of 3D in the eighties that came away, you know, the blue and the, and the red on the eyes, or was it green, red on the ice
And then, through to like, more, more recently where we’ve seen, you know, IMAX and, and mm-hmm. 3d. Really become, kind of maybe not mainstream, but certainly kind of mainstream adjacent. Okay. So, and some of those attempts have succeeded. Mm-hmm. , some of ’em haven’t. Okay. So in, in a relatively, traditional marketplace where, you know, the movie making
Has changed dramatically [00:35:00] and, and, and the, you know, special effects and technology. You know, if you look at, if you look at like, light year, the case this past summer versus toy Story that came in 1995, the difference in, in, in, in the special effect, the commuter, you know, the CGI and the commuter animation
Incredible. But for the most part, the actual movie going experience hasn’t really changed. Okay. The sound might be a bit better, the popcorn might be a bit, be a bit tastier, but for the most part, the movie going experience hasn’t really changed. So in a relat, in, in, in a market that seems to be, for the most part, reluctant to change, how do you go about making
Or bringing a product to market in a market that seems to be quite, intolerant of innovation.
Karen: Yeah, great question. You’re, you’re spot on about the, the reluctance of. [00:36:00] Of, change Well in our, in our world quick change or, or, or, you know, accelerated change. I would say this is a, this is a kind of a relevant topic given that we’re kind of coming out of the pandemic and, and, you know, there’s so many headlines around
Theaters, movie theaters, and movie going is completely dead after this pandemic, you know, and, and so many articles. Therefore, afterwards showing that or proving them wrong, meaning, you know, this, this was also the apocalyptic end and the doom of the movie theater happened when. D B D came out when Blue Ray came out
Simon: Yeah. When dcs came out. Yeah. Two people.
Karen: And, and the thing, the thing that I know for sure now, is that cinema. Is an art form that will not [00:37:00] ever go away, right? And, and this, this idea of human beings are so naturally enthralled at storytelling. And some of the best story stories on the big screen are so, are so entertaining to watch
And, and this is why people watch, you know, Avengers or some of their most favorite movie. Over and over and over again. Yeah. Yeah. Right. Because the storytelling is so great. The special effects may be so great. And, and again, it’s going back to our, our topic on recognizable brands that you just fall in love with these characters
So for me, I know for sure that cinema won’t ever go away to, to deb Box cinema and the theatrical segment. We’re doubling down on it and we’re doubling down on it, coming out of the pandemic because we know for sure. People [00:38:00] are paying extra for the, the big IMAX screens, right? There’s an upcharge for to watch it in imax
People are paying extra even to watch it in Dolby. At most a new sort of spatial audio technology. They’re paying extra and we know for sure because we see it in our balance sheets. We know for sure they’re paying extra for the right. With the, with the motion active seats that we provide, and I, I’m, I’m, it’s, it’s, it’s really a great time for me at D Box and managing the theatrical business because, We are hearing from partners like Cinema, mark Cplex and new partners who would have never, five years ago, 10 years ago, even considered D Box seats in their auditoriums, in their movie theaters
Now they’re, they’re talking to us now they’re open to it because they do. Unfortunately, it’s a [00:39:00] slow, it’s a slow sales cycle in this market, but if you think about it, besides the, the visuals, right? Imax, big screen, all of that, and besides the audio. Doby other surround sound, technology. The other key ingredient to a great, movie going experience are the seats and the environment that you’re around
I mean, the popcorn smells are always good, except for when the, when they burn the popcorn, then it’s not so good . But , you know, again, a multisensory experience, but in a movie auditorium, It’s the, it’s the screen, it’s the audio and it’s the seats. So this is where D Box comes in is, hey, you can have, you know, we’re, we’re, we’re, we’re proud that we can, that we work with a lot of seating manufacturers and we’ve certified a lot of them
So if a, if, theater owner wants recliner seats in their auditorium, We [00:40:00] can, we can equip that with D Box if they want just the regular, classic red seats, of the old days of, of cinema going, we can provide a motion to that. So, so it’s a really good time for Deb Box and the theatrical partners right now, because even though with, home streaming and you know, all these, Disney plus, Amazon Prime, Amazon video, All of these streaming services, there is nothing that compares to kind of the
Again, storytelling event such as, the, the movie going experience. And I think, I think consumers see that because they’re never going to put maybe, I don’t know, maybe, maybe you can tell, we can talk again in 10 years to see if IMAX for the home. You know, putting a big giant IMAX theater is something
Simon: Yeah, it’s really interesting
I mean, you, you mentioned, like DVD and video and I remember, cause I’m old enough that, [00:41:00] pre 85, 86 going to the movies, particularly in England, was not particularly nice. The movie theaters were grimy. Yeah. But they, they were just not, it wasn’t a particularly nice experience and I. When, when, video VCRs became a mass product and, you know Right
Pretty much every household had one. Rather than it killing. The, the cinema market, the, the, the movie producers recognized this as another form of distribution and were able to capitalize on it. And so there was more money coming into the movie theater, into the movie, the, the studios, yes
And so that trickled down into the, the cinemas that recognized that in order to compete, The at home market, they needed to make themselves better. Okay. Yes. So I think probably from like 87, 88 onwards, the Multiplexis came out, mega Plexus came out and it became much better. I would imagine that post pandemic kind of fast forwarding, you know, 25 years
Mm-hmm. . [00:42:00] The post pandemic with, either simultaneous or very closely simultaneous releases of, movies in the movie theater and then at streaming. As long as a movie theater provides something better or something different, then they’ll not only will they survive and they’ll thrive, and I think a great
Example of that was, the James Bond movie. No Time To Die. That came out last year. It was still in the movie top 10 a week or so after it had been release streaming because people were opting to see it in the movie theater. So in the movie theater, to your point, I think, I think you’re absolutely right, and this probably is a great time for debug
Karen: and, and, and here’s the other trend that we’re starting to see is, you know, the, the
And, and, and it’s very true for the international theater market in that for many, many years, and, and maybe it’s true today still, but we’re seeing a shift towards, a different, a different viewpoint of reliance on Hollywood blockbusters, right? [00:43:00] And, and it’s true that the superhero films are always gonna do well in the box office
There are some, you know, Hollywood films that is not distributed in all parts of the world. China, Russia, there’s, there’s other things happening there. But, but so, so I, I mentioned that because what we’re hearing from our theatrical partners is now this openness and optimism to other forms of alternative content
To put in their, you know, on the big screens and in their immersive theaters. Meaning, you know, one, one quick example is the live streaming of a, of, of bts. You know that the Korean and pop group, you’re familiar, maybe your audience, some of them might be BTS fans out there, when, when they had a concert that was, live in South Korea
But because they were taking precautions of Covid and [00:44:00] all of that, they did not do a world tour. But what they did was live stream it to certain theaters across the world and that that live streaming of the BTS concert was sold out and they had to add more shows and for the ticket, sales and box office sales
Oh man, it was, it was tremendous. So there’s a model now for. Sort of alternative content other than Hollywood blockbuster films. What other, you know, other content like musical concerts and you know, even UFC or, or
Karen: or boxing fans. So boxings opera matches. Yeah.
Simon: These have, well, yeah, absolutely. Okay
So what three tips would you give for somebody looking to successfully launch? A brand
Karen: Ah, three tips to successfully launch a brand. Yes. Tip number one, articulate your [00:45:00] vision right. And, and, and have a crystal clear vision of, of, of. Where you wanna take that product. Again, we talked a lot today about honoring, the franchise character, making sure that it’s in line with, kind of the, this, the, what’s true to form for that, for that brand
So articulating the vision all the way through from inception. To, to sales goals, sales targets and beyond, right? What other brand extensions can be added on because of the success of that, that product launch. Okay, so that’s tip number one. Vision, tip number two. Is, I would say, you know, resource management, making sure that in order for you to launch a product on time and on budget, that you, hopefully you, you know, this, this product manager or product teams [00:46:00] have truly devised or, or, or planned a realistic
Launch plan that takes into account all of the needs, of, of how to go, go to market with this, this brand. So resource management can be in the form of, you know, human getting, all the humans together, all the people. Do you have the right people in place? Do they have the right expertise, on that product? And on that sort of whatever, Need or business case you need them to deliver. So vision, resource management. And then I would just say always, always honor the fan of that. so consider the audience. Consider the audience engagement. And when I say fan, I always think back to my Nintendo days and the fans of Nintendo fans are, are, are amazing and, and they’re, they’re vocal
Always in [00:47:00] the back of every product marketer or product, team’s mind should be, would the, would the audience that we’re trying to sell this to or mark this to, will they be proud of the product that we, we put out there? So vision resource. And engaging the community. Those are my top three for launching a, a brand or a product successfully
Simon: Great. And what’s next for you and for D Box?
Karen: Yes, so for D Box, I mean certainly, theatrical, we’ve got some, so we had a great summer. June was our. Record breaking for, revenues for the company in all of our 25 year history. It was great because we had Nav, top Gun, Maverick, Thor, minions, Dr
Strange even. So we had a great blockbuster year and we needed it after a time of the pandemic. So we will continue on with our dedication to theatrical [00:48:00] and cinema. But we also have this growing vertical in sim racing, where D Box is partnered with F1 and NASCAR and the FIA and, and that business that I get to drive for the company
So I’m driving that business, for sim racing. It is so exciting and there’s so. More that D Box can, can do. So look to D Box to, to do more things in sim racing, in theatrical and cinema. And for me personally, what I’m most excited for in the sim racing area. Is I, I wanna get, I want D Box to be more involved with the W series of the f1
So women to me, for, for me personally, my PET project is, or my, my passion is, Women in technology, women in sports, women in consumer products, women in entertainment. I’m really, you know, [00:49:00] these are industries and these are, segments about population that may not see themselves, succeeding, well or even thriving in these industries, but, You know, I, I, I’m here to, I’m, I’m living proof, I guess, that, that it’s alive and well and we could use more women engineers, we could use more women product marketers in these technologies that were historically kind of just, you know, led by
You know, men and, and, and not to say that this is an anti male show, I probably, that’s not the message, but anything that I can do to help girls and women into technology and products and entertainment, I’m, I’m all for it.
Simon: That’s great. And how, and if people wanted to reach out, to you or to dac, what’s the best way for me to
Karen: Find me on LinkedIn. I am active on LinkedIn. It’s the one, social media that I, that I love to use and I use daily. So please find me on LinkedIn. I’m sure Simon, you can put a [00:50:00] link in, your show notes for it. So I look forward to hearing from, from your audience.
Simon: That’s great. Karen, thank you so much for your time today
It’s been an absolute privilege. And, and just an honor, to spend time with you and to, hear more from your story, not just from Nintendo, but all the amazing stuff that’s going on at D Box. And , as, as someone who, who enjoys, talking about business. Talking about gaming and talking about movers
This has been an nice trifecta for me.
Karen: Oh, i, so, I had so much fun. Simon, I hope we get to talk again soon because I’m sure there will, we can find other things to talk about, in, in the world, in the business world. For these fun segments that we get to do. So thank you for, for welcom me welcoming me on your show
I had so much fun and I hope to do it again with you soon.
Simon: I’m sure we will. I’m sure we’ll be inviting you back to come, to come and talk to us about other, other, topics and other projects. But in the meantime, Karen Menez, thank you so much for joining us here in the conference room.
Karen: Thank you