Charles Lavigne and Kevin Oke met at a mutual friend’s wedding in the summer of 2014. Little did they realize during that fateful encounter, they were destined to become tech entrepreneurs who would create an educational 3D platform with the potential to revolutionize post-secondary teaching two years later.
Their original concept was a small scale app they would spend three to five months building, which they planned to release and be done with. Instead, their 3D veterinary education software has grown into a monumental platform and collaboration with universities and professors from around the world. EasyAnatomy borrows strategies from cognitive neuroscience to update course materials, in real time, according to learners’ needs. Today LlamaZOO Interactive boasts a dozen staff including a tech director, multiple 3D content designers and developers, and two co-op students.
Both with established backgrounds in game design, Lavigne and Oke credit much of their success to partnering up and participating in the, Venture Acceleration Program, one of the many programs at VIATEC’s Accelerate Tectoria.
The pair considers game design a broad field, touching on multiple disciplines such as writing, psychology, system architecture, aesthetic design and business. Although neither was a particular expert in any one of these areas, they describe themselves as “jacks of all trades” who were better able to meet all of the challenges they faced as a duo instead of each on their own.
They set their sights on joining Accelerate Tectoria early on. Oke remembers fondly how excited he and Lavigne were when they were first invited to pitch, and then later when they got accepted into the program.
“It was really instrumental for us,” Oke said, crediting the networking, workshops, and overall sense of community that came with it. “It really held us accountable to what we were doing because we took it very seriously,” said Lavigne, who treated the assignments like work. The pair was partnered up with an executive in residence to guide and coach them through a series of exercises to narrow their focus and validate product hypotheses as quickly as possible over the course of six months. “It gave us a formula and process to guide us and make sure we did the right things to validate our product, from finding and defining the customers to segmenting the market. It definitely helped,” said Oke.
In fall 2016, EasyAnatomy was adopted by the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Missouri, and the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, whose students’ performance will be analyzed to create individualized quizzes to increase study time efficiency. LlamaZOO was also recently selected by Microsoft as a first wave developer for its new Hololens augmented reality platform.
Lavigne and Oke envision a bright future for LlamaZOO; they see an opportunity for their technology to be applied to any subject with complex 3D relationships such as dentistry, human anatomy and organic chemistry.