Emilie Joly: Building a Metaverse For Education
Hi everyone, Spiffy here, your one and only interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth. I’m thrilled to be talking to Emilie Joly, the CEO of Zoe Immersive, an inspiring entrepreneur working on SDG 4: Quality Education. Let’s see how she’s doing it!
Spiffy: Welcome to the blog, Emilie! What challenge are you addressing with Zoe Immersive?
Emilie: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! At Zoe Immersive we believe that online learning should be creative, social, and interactive. The pandemic has shown how learning via video can be frustrating and disengaging for everyone involved. It’s difficult to feel like you are working hands-on on something when you are watching a video stream of people speaking for many hours during the day. On the other hand, there are many services—such as gaming platforms—that engage billions of users every day, so we decided to build a new kind of platform combining the best of learning with real-time 3D technologies: a metaverse for education. Our goal is to empower the next generations to become creators and be ready for the future of work.
Spiffy: What motivated you to do it?
Emilie: I started working on the seeds of Zoe Immersive’s technology during my master's degree ten years ago. Specifically, we needed a way to create an interactive, 360-degree comic book on mobile devices for one of my co-founders. Since he didn’t know how to code, we designed a software tool to speed up the process. His project won many awards around the world and kicked off our company. With Zoe, students, creators, and individuals are empowered to easily learn 21st century skills, along with design and digital skills. If I can give the same opportunity I got as a young woman in tech to millions of new innovators, I will have achieved my mission.
Spiffy: Can you elaborate on how you and everyone else at Zoe Immersive are working towards a more equitable world?
Emilie: To ensure anyone can be part of this digital revolution, we have made our platform as democratized as possible, including making it work on high-tech VR devices and headsets as well as iOS and Android smartphones. Some features require high-speed internet and 5G, but some don’t even require an active internet connection making it much easier to use in areas where good internet is a luxury. It’s also about making it usable by people with disabilities and focusing on building the smoothest user experience. Thinking about all these constraints allows us to innovate in many ways and make our platform even better which is awesome.
Spiffy: It is, indeed! Tell me about a recent company initiative and the impact it makes.
Emilie: We just opened up Zoe on mobile devices this year. Creators can request early access directly on our website. This is a big milestone for us to make Zoe accessible to everyone. Later this year we will support underrepresented communities to participate in Zoe challenges to be featured as creators on our marketplace and we can’t wait to see what everyone creates!
Spiffy: Wow I love that. Now I’ve been around entrepreneurs for a while and one of the things that fascinates me is the many ways in which everyone deals with setbacks. Can you share an experience of failure and what you learned from it?
Emilie: Of course. We have been told “no” more times than we can count. When you launch a startup, it’s part of the job and the risk. We started with $0 in our respective bank accounts so the risk was pretty high. Now we’ve established partnerships with Meta, Unity, HTC, and have investors that support our mission. Eventually, you find the right people to support you as long as you believe in your vision and in your team. Try to not give up too quickly, learn as much as you can in the process to evolve and try again. Listen to the feedback that helps you move forward and discard those that hold you back. It’s also fine to let it go if something really doesn’t work out, that’s all good. You can always build something new and better the next time around!
Spiffy: Well said! What is something you've unexpectedly learned from someone recently?
Emilie: My daughter is nine months old and she is learning something new every ive minutes. Whether it be trying to stand up, putting whatever in her mouth, looking at the trees like it’s the most amazing thing in the world. She’s teaching me to take a breather and just focus on the moment. She’s forcing me to do it without even wanting to because otherwise I would just be constantly working. That’s a great lesson, especially in current times where the lines between work and home are blurred. Just let yourself have fun a few hours a day! Makes for a much more productive week. I thought that being a mom and a CEO would be pretty complicated, but it’s easier than you think if you embrace the hiccups. It teaches you a lot of management skills!
Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Emilie: Join us! We need more of you to become creators, innovate, and show your talents. And if you’re thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, do it! Learn everything you can from what others have done and get your project started.
Spiffy: You hear that, readers? Emilie, thanks so much for speaking with me today—it’s been an honor!
Emilie Joly is the CEO and co-Founder of Zoe Immersive. Based in Los Angeles, she oversees business strategy for the company. Emilie is a designer and technologist at heart, specializing in human-computer interactions. Her ultimate goal is to empower the next generations of learners with 21st century skills, such as UX design, programming, and more. (Nominated by Svenia Busson at European Edtech Alliance. First published on the Ladderworks website on February 23, 2022)
© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Corner here.