Friday, May 27, 2022

Thomas Johann Lorenz – the journey to Journee

Thomas Johann Lorenz is the co-founder and managing partner at Journee – The Metaverse Company.

Journee is exactly what it suggests it is, a metaverse company providing the tools and platform for businesses, and events, to bring people together using their wildest dreams.

The Berlin headquartered tech company was born out of frustration during Covid and in a short time has created ground-breaking events in their virtual space.

Growing up it was obvious Lorenz was going to become a serial entrepreneur, he always had a flair for business and seeking out opportunities. This was apparent, I guess, when he tried to turn his ‘family’ magazine into a subscription-based model after just four publications – he was ten years old at the time!

“My aunties began to say that it was getting a bit too commercial and serious, and it lacked the beauty of the kid doing something sweet,” he says.

The sign of a true entrepreneur is not to be deterred when your first project goes array and luckily that well intentioned, yet ‘pitching to the wrong crowd’, moment did not stop Lorenz from finding future opportunities.

His whole career has been spent building and consulting businesses.

For example, his last large project, pre-metaverse, was founding a B2B platform for the fashion industry called Veee.com. The platform which connects the fashion buyers with brands was acquired in 2019 by wholesale software platform JOOR.

Where did Journee come from?

After the exit from Veee.com Lorenz was looking for his next problem to solve. Conversations with old friend Christian Loclair led to Locliar later becoming co-founder and creative director of Journee.

“Christian is one of the most talented creative technologists globally,” says Lorenz. “He’s trying to leverage newest cutting-edge technologies and turn them into something new with creativity.”

“We sat together, and he was basically presenting me some of the projects that he was currently working on,” he says. “They were all extremely exciting and based on so much creativity, and technological knowhow that me, the guy looking for opportunities, identified that there’s a lot of potential if we would join forces.”

One of the projects Loclair had been working on at the time was an AI driven marble 3D sculpture, the first of its kind.

Something that big of a deal should have only the best exhibit, I’m sure you would agree, but the timing was off. Just as the marble creation arrived for exhibit so too did Covid, curtailing all opportunity for an in-person spectacle.

“That AI based sculpture was produced out of Italian marble, physically, as a real sculpture,” explains Lorenz. “And it was, then in March 2020, shipped to our Berlin office.”

Thomas Johann Lorenz CEO and Founder of Journee

“We suddenly had that 3D sculpture, standing in our office space.”

I mean, in these situations there is only one thing for it right? Build a metaverse experience to bring the sculpture to its audience. Of course, that’s what they did.

“Christian started to wonder how he can make that 3D sculpture accessible on the internet – in the highest possible quality,” he says.

“At that point, I was at the drawing board trying to come up with future strategies for the two of us.”

Loclair has his coder friends help find a way of exhibiting his sculpture through a screen, but it was important that the experience of such a piece was not compromised.

“We showed the first attempt of ‘3D in the Internet’ to a couple of people in our networks, and they started talking about it in their networks,” said Lorenz. “And that’s when it started.”

“My phone started to ring with people and enterprises that wanted to do projects with us based on that new technology.”

Journey to Journee complete

That was when they realised, they had just founded their next company, Journee – The Metaverse Company.

A few short months later and you have Coldplay (softly) rocking out a concert in the metaverse at BMW’s immersive technology event, Joytopia.

“As of today, Journee is the leading technology platform for high definition metaverses that are accessible to anyone” he says.

“We have built the world’s leading technology to make immersive, interactive, beautifully live rendered 3D world, accessible directly in the browser – just like any other website,” he explains. “No app, no download, no VR glasses, nothing.”

“With that technology we now enable whoever wants to create their own highest definition metaverse – it’s relevant for so many industries and so many use cases.”

So far, they have seen concerts, art exhibitions, product launches and fan-based activities.

One very personal experience Lorenz was able to have last year was a memorable walk in the metaverse with his 68-year-old father. The bittersweet memory of showing his father what they had created.

“I called him and told him I was working on a new project he should check out. I sent him a link via email,” he says.

“He clicked on the link and then we were both standing in a forest surrounded by butterflies, in our browsers – standing next to each other as little avatars,” he continues.

“He said, ‘what is this, it’s incredible?’ We spent 30 minutes walking through that forest together, speaking on the phone discussing how beautiful it was. Those 30 minutes was one of the most beautiful moments with my dad in years, and it was a virtual experience,” he says.

“What I didn’t know at that time was, it would be the last time we would meet, as he passed away a couple of months later.”

ColdplayGig Joytopia

More human internet moments

Lorenz says that what they are offering with the metaverse is a much more human interaction on the internet, much more human than anything that has happened on our screens in the last 20 years.

“It has been about a highly efficient exchange of information and it’s highly optimised to date,” he says.

“But human communication is only 20% about hard exchanging information and data – 80% of what makes humans human is about the way it feels, emotions, experiences, and connections between people,” he explains.

“And that component has not been addressed on the internet,” he says. “We’re now entering a new era of virtual experiences to address much more of the human aspect than has been done before.”

Lorenz describes his journey from 10-year-old magazine publisher to metaverse company owner as ‘mind blowing’. So, what is next for the serial entrepreneur?

“I could not imagine a more exciting job, right now, than this one,” he states.

Fiona Alston
Fiona Alstonhttp://fionaalston.com
Fiona Alston is a freelance journalist based in Ireland covering tech, innovation, start-ups and interesting SMEs. Alston is also passionate about athletics, health and horses having competed in triathlons, equestrian events and horse racing, and her lived experience comes through when covering sports personalities or fitness features. Growing up on the family farm in Scotland, Alston graduated from the University of Sunderland with a BA (Hon.) in Broadcast Journalism, and is frequently published in The Irish Times, The Business Post, RTÉ and 4i Mag. 

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