The future of shopping is live video with Mike Dragan

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Guest

Mike Dragan

Founder & CEO
Streams Live

Streams Live is taking advantage of smartphones, 5G, and AI to push the boundaries of shopping.

Sean has founded multiple companies and done multiple 8 figures worth of business.

He’s currently advising, consulting, and investing in business just like yours.

He knows where you’ve been, and he knows where you’re going.

Book a call with him today to see how he can help you get there smarter, faster, and in a way that aligns with your life goals.

Timestamps

00:00 – Guest Introduction
02:00 – Get to know Mike and his company
02:43 – Raising funds in EU
04:57 – Building a business in Europe
10:12 – Expanding in EU and its potential in the future
14:28 – Governments investing in the local industries
21:57 – How does investments look like in EU
26:51 – Do you really need outside funding?
29:30 – Having a plan and being adaptive
32:27 – Future of technology and other industries
39:57 – Follow up with Mike

Transcript

Read the transcript
Sean Weisbrot:
Welcome back to another episode of the We Live to Build podcast. Even before the pandemic began, we started to see the shift from physical to online e-commerce happening. Smartphone technology, artificial intelligence, improved cameras and sensors, and 4G combined to allow for a next-generation shopping experience that was waiting to happen. Mike Dragan is the founder and CEO of Streams.Live, which is taking advantage of all these technologies to push the boundaries of such an experience.

In this fascinating talk, we started discussing what it was like to be an entrepreneur born and raised in the European Union, but who straddles the EU and the US physically and professionally, his team is currently raising a bridge round and he’s in the EU in order to do that. Although his company is normally based in the US, specifically in Austin, Texas. Later in the conversation, we move towards what the future of technology and the shopping experience might look like. So, if you’re interested in extrapolating and predicting the future, you’ll love this conversation and I hope you stay with us to the end. Thanks again to Mike for this awesome chat. Now let’s get to it.

Welcome to We Live to Build. My name is Sean Weisbrot, and I’m an entrepreneur, investor and advisor based in Asia for over 12 years. Join us every week to fast-track your personal growth so you can meet the ever-increasing demands of the company or companies you are passionately building. Time waits for no one. So, let’s get started now.

Welcome to the show, Mike. It’s fantastic to have you here. I really enjoyed our first conversation, so hopefully this one will be of as much value. Let’s get started. Why don’t you tell everyone real fast before we get into it what it is you’re doing right now?

Mike Dragan:
Hi Sean. Thanks for the invite. Uh, it’s a pleasure to be here. I’m the CEO of a company called “Ovid”, uh, which does live experiences, commerce. So basically, that means we are handling, uh, payments in live experiences, both in person and online. And our newest product streams that live helps companies, uh, set up live stream shopping sessions, basically allowing them to sell via live streams.

Sean Weisbrot:
You’re headquartered in the US, you’re currently based in the EU because you said you’re trying to raise another round of funding. What has been that experience trying to raise funds in Europe?

Mike Dragan:
It’s been quite easy to raise funds, uh, a lot easier than it was, let’s say five years ago. There’s, uh, many more funds that are active in Europe and are actively looking for cool investments. It is a little harder than it is in the US, just given the fact that the whole venture capital market is a lot larger in the US, uh, than it is in Europe. But I think things are changing. So, basically where right now we’re a company that has raised money both in the US and EU. So, this works. It seems to us that if you have a proper backing from a traditional VC, it’s a lot easier to raise funds in the EU than it is to bootstrap. So that’s been our experience so far.

Sean Weisbrot:
I would say, I think it’s probably universal because I’ve spoken to a number of VCs for our current round. A lot of them wanted to know who else was backing us. And when I told them that I’ve been funding the company for the last two and a half, almost three years by myself, they didn’t seem to care. They just said, oh, but nobody’s backing you. Oh, no. Okay.

Mike Dragan:
Well, I think this is probably part because of, uh, the whole process or how the process is set up in usual VC transactions. It is a lot easier for them to decide to go in when there’s another VC involved. And the second reason is another VC in the company means that there’s some due diligence, diligence that has been done. So, it basically means that someone has vetted the company so there’s less work for them afterwards.

Sean Weisbrot:
I didn’t really appreciate that they were assuming anything about me without knowing, but –

Mike Dragan:
I think that the smaller VCs and angel investors tend to be less focused on prior backing from other established VCs. So, I think it’s easier to go smaller at first just to get some traction. So, you’ve spent the funds well, shown some results and afterwards the VCs are more likely to back you.

Sean Weisbrot:
Let’s move to something slightly different but still related to the EU. I have personally done a little bit of research into registering companies in Estonia and Malta. I personally decided not to go that route. Can you speak to the experience of an average entrepreneur in the EU trying to set up a company? What is the process of forming a company? Getting a bank account? Let’s start there.

Mike Dragan:
It is similar in most EU countries. There are some differences, mostly between Western, the western part of Europe and the eastern part of Europe. So, for example, you need a bit more starting capital in the western part. So, for example, in um, in Germany, I know it’s uh somewhere around 25 K Euro. Uh, so that would be around $30,000. Uh, whereas with uh eastern countries, uh, you can start for as little as I think nothing. Think in some countries or, you know, somewhere around $50. It’s quite fast. And in some countries, such as Estonia, it’s actually done digitally and most of the countries are moving towards this type of starting a company digitally.

There’s some advantages to starting a company in, uh, in the EU, for example, it’s a large market with a lot of potential, but there are some pitfalls that you need to look into very carefully. One thing that it is not seen outside of the EU is that even if the whole political system is quite well set up, there’s a lot of cultures and a lot of languages, and basically it’s quite hard to move from one country to another. So, it’s a lot easier to start a company in the UK and then start doing business in the US or Australia or New Zealand, because there are very similar cultures. Whereas if you’re starting a company in France, for example, you’re basically looking to develop the French market. It’s hard to move from France to Germany.

For example, if you don’t have a German company set up and you’re speaking, uh, German, or you have a high-level representative that speaks German, it’s a very culture-based type of business representation that’s being done in all of these countries. Now, this doesn’t mean that you cannot do it. Uh, it’s just that you need to figure out how to set up a presence in all of these countries if you want to create a European presence, uh, another country-by-country presence. So, it’s not like, uh, setting up an office in, uh, let’s say Texas and then selling, uh, something in California, which is pretty easily done. I know that the differences between the states in terms of culture seem large. Uh, if you’re from the West. Well, they’re not as large if you’re talking about two different countries in Europe.

Sean Weisbrot:
Well, it seems like a giant headache.

Mike Dragan:
It sometimes is. For us, it was a lot easier to start a company in the EU than set up an office in the UK and then incorporate in the US, then expand to all of the European countries. The continent still has some work to do in terms of economic integration and cultural integration. So, there’s a lot of work to do there.

Sean Weisbrot:
So, you’ve described some of the pitfalls in the pros. What does it look like in terms of how long does it take to set up a company in one of these countries? How much does it cost to set up one of these in Asia? Often that you’ve got a registered address if you’re not physically there, is there anything related to registered addresses or corporate secretaries or local nominee directors, like is there anything like that?

Mike Dragan:
In most countries, you have to have a local administrator or business manager, someone that represents the company officially in the face of the government. So, you need to either you are that person or you, um, set up a representative for that particular country. Uh, it’s not very complicated in terms of, um, of forms. And a lot of countries have electronic forms to start companies. Uh, one very good example, as you mentioned, is Estonia, which has made a lot of steps in into digitizing their, uh, economy and the way you set up companies.

You know, some countries are more conservative when it comes to businesses. Talk about Germany, if you want to set up a company in Germany is a bit more complicated. While technically you can set up a company as a foreigner, it works very well. If you have like a local partner and you understand the whole system a little bit more in depth, so it’s easier to set up a company, let’s say in Eastern Europe or in the Baltic countries, than it is to set up a company in, uh, France. And Germany. There’s also differences in taxation. So, you might get a lower corporate tax in Eastern Europe that you would get in France, which is I think I’m not exactly sure, but I think it’s the country with the highest taxes in the EU. They’re pretty social oriented. So, they tax a lot, which, you know, sometimes makes companies leave the country in terms of tax residence.

Sean Weisbrot:
I’ve had a lot of friends complain about France for personal and corporate taxes. What I’m hearing is if I had a Spanish company and no company in Germany, it would be hard to actually do business in Germany.

Mike Dragan:
Yes, that is correct.

Sean Weisbrot:
Would it be possible for me to have a Spanish company and a bank account with the German bank?

Mike Dragan:
Technically this is all doable. So, you can be a German company and open a bank account in Spain and vice versa. You can actually sell if you’re in Spain to Germany. The whole problem is that probably people, people, people won’t buy from you so you can sell, but they’re not many buyers. So, people still tend to buy local. And um, authorities tend to favor local companies.

Sean Weisbrot:
That seems like such a waste of potential everyone thinks about. Or as you said, EU has massive potential. But if everyone is so tribal, even though everyone shares a single currency. The political systems, the financial systems are effectively separated. Then it sounds to me like being an EU company is almost not worth it. Am I wrong? Is there something I’m missing here?
Mike Dragan:
For now? For now. It depends on your time frame you’re looking to invest in. The path for is clear. All of the countries will work together. People have started to move from country to country. The younger generations, millennials and Gen Zs don’t think of Europe as something that is, you know, either German or French or whatever. They’re understanding Europe, the continent as a whole. They understand the mistakes of the past. So probably in I think the near future, things are going to become a lot easier in terms of cultural adoption, buying things from other countries, working in other countries, and so on and so forth.

But for now, it is a bit harder than you would expect, especially if you’re coming from a larger markets such as the US. You’re now going to be able to do businesses as easy as you would in the US from state to state, but in the future, I expect everything to be a lot easier. So that’s where the potential is coming from. This whole types of transactions that are not happening at the moment, which I would say we’re doing about 5% of what’s possible in the European Union at the moment. So, the other 95%, in terms of transactions between countries, it’s something that I would call the high potential of the European Union.

Sean Weisbrot:
So, you said in the short term is that five years, ten, 15, 20 years?

Mike Dragan:
I would expect it to be somewhere in between 10 to 20 years. Uh, basically, you have all the generations that were not used to the concept of the European Union and trading in between countries that are pretty much still managing the commercial routes and commercial decisions in the EU. But this is beginning to change, and it’s changing quite fast. So I would say something around, you know, 10 to 20 years at most.

Sean Weisbrot:
So, it sounds to me like with that timeframe, you’re expecting the people who are running the EU to basically retire and have a have basically probably millennials step in and go, hey, we should probably make some changes.

Mike Dragan:
Exactly. They’re actually doing that. So, if you’re looking at the type of people that are doing venture capital deals in between countries, they’re building, uh, tech companies that are operating throughout the European Union or they’re, you know, managing the expansion of companies, uh, between European countries that are almost entirely millennials. So, at the moment they’re either, you know, small entrepreneurs or middle managers or, you know, some of them are top managers, but this generation is basically, you know, rising to the top, both in terms of commerce, society as well as the political medium. So, it’s becoming quite clear that once things settle in, the way forward is, you know, connecting all of the countries, because otherwise Europe cannot stand a chance against, you know, any other large market.

Sean Weisbrot:
Yeah, I feel like the European Union is still, unfortunately, a fragile experiment. It’s only been around for what? What is it like 30? A little under 30 years now. It’s like 1995 or 1990, something like that.

Mike Dragan:
Yeah, it’s basically got formalized within the 90s. But, you know, Europeans have been fighting one another for the past 2000 years. So we know each other, quite well.

Sean Weisbrot:
Do you imagine that the ECB would seek to institute a central bank, digital currency, in order to replace the paper currency that currently is being used as a means for deeper integration between the economies?

Mike Dragan:
I think that’s being done. But one of the other things that I’ve noticed, uh, which has, you know, also impacted us, uh, is the fact that the European Investment Fund, which is kind of like a central investment institutional fund, has been pushing a lot of money in terms of collateral for VC firms with the goal to invest in small and mid-sized startup tech companies, which means that they’re basically subsidizing venture capital companies to come into existence. And I think this will do a lot more in terms of connecting the economies than all of the projects in the past combined.

So, there were in the past, uh, the central bank and the central government of Europe has issued all sorts of development funds that were used on a central level, central administration level to create roads or the repair stuff or, you know, subsidize state services and so on and so forth. But, you know, a lot of them has been spent on crap. Whereas when you’re investing in VC firms, they tend to be really careful with how they’re spending the money. And the companies that are receiving the money tend to work on high value technology, high value services. They tend to want to go at least regional, but usually global. So, I think this is the best project in terms of economic development in the European Union.

Sean Weisbrot:
I agree, I think it’s really important. I’ve mentioned this several times before on different episodes, but the Chinese government every five years came out with a new plan, and part of that plan was attached to an idea of. Some industry or industries that they should be heavily investing in. So essentially, the Chinese government was taking taxpayer dollars yuan and giving it to all of the provincial governors to invest in their own homegrown startups that were focused in that industry, so that after a five-year period, they had quite a mature industry where the government was not only investing in these technologies, but also becoming clients of these startups. The whole time I was looking at the US going, why are you not doing this, America?

You are going to fail if China surpasses you through investing in local companies, because what has existed for the last few decades in America, as you’re probably aware, is that you’d have individual people who would make money, give their money to venture capital firms, and they would invest the money on behalf of individuals. Where China was saying, as a country, we are going to own this industry, we are going to invest in the people in the private industry or the private companies that are developing this industry. And what I’ve seen since Joe Biden came into the office is that he’s talking about kind of redirecting money from taxpayer dollars. That would also be something similar.

Now, obviously, because of the structure of the American government as compared to the structure of the Chinese government, it’s going to look different. But I think every government should be investing locally. Absolutely. So, the fact that the EU is looking at doing this is extremely important as well, because I know quite a few European entrepreneurs are registered in America. They’re living in the EU. They have European teams they raise from European investors, they operate there and they serve there. But they’re American companies, because they didn’t see a way forward as a European institution. And there’s a lot of laissez faire attitude, I think, in European societies as a whole, because of maybe a lack of exposure to the American capitalist mentality of like, let’s do it. Anything is possible if there’s enough money to do it. So, I think it’s amazing that the EU is is turning things around and starting to invest in the younger generations in tech. Have they set out any guidelines for what they’re specifically looking for in terms of startups that they want these VCs to invest in? Is there any specific industries that are high value targets for the next 5 or 10 years of investment?

Mike Dragan:
The comparison between the Chinese government and the European, you know, central government, they’re pretty similar because Europe has also a similar background in terms of ideology. Both territories are, at the core, socialist. That’s one of the core things which you can look at it from multiple perspectives. I’m not exactly sure that the capitalist approach is worse. I mean, from my personal experience, I know that there are a lot of things that are not working at the moment in the European Union. And you have to understand that this continent, is a continent that until 150 years ago was mostly market-based. So, there was like this dude or woman on top that would rule the other people just because she was born in the right spot, which is something that I noticed is not happening in the US. It’s a culture where you can actually rise to the very top and different from the background you’ve came from.

A lot of companies are moving from the European Union to the US in terms of incorporation, because there’s a whole lot more potential there as a market, but also as a social type of organization. I know that, you know, Joe Biden comes with a more, let’s say, you know, the US would call it socialist agenda, but the US is very far right in terms of economic development. So, you know, just. Shifting a little bit to the left doesn’t make it socialist. Europe has had guillotines in in in the French Revolution, so that leaves a mark. This is not happening in the US. And I think the question is not whether a capitalist system or a socialist system is the best one is, but rather if there’s a third one that can combine best options from the two of those. So, for example, you know, the type of things that the government is doing in Europe would work in the US. I think it is working because there’s the basic thing that the US government is doing for its citizens is just allow them to have the opportunities to build the things that they want to build with the tools that are available. Of course, there is some inequity, but this type of inequities is to be found everywhere in the world.

I think that what the new developments will do in the US are going to make the country even more stable and even more competitive. I’ve been living in Europe for a large part of my life. I’ve been in China and I’ve been in the US. I still think the US is the greatest achievement in terms of social structure humans have ever built, just because it is so individual-based. I mean, you can topple the government of Germany and you get World War two, but if you topple the government of the US, another one would take its place. The states are still going to be there and they’re still going to be doing their their things, and the individuals are still going to be doing their things.

So, I think a startup is better suited to work in the US, just because there’s a lot more potential. But there, you know, there are some things that are working quite well in, in Europe. And I would name, the medical system, which is amazing as compared to what’s happening in healthcare in in the US. I mean, I’m always shocked to find out that you could literally die and no one would take care of you if you didn’t have the money to pay for it. Another thing is, uh, you know, gun violence. Europe has been built on violence both internally and externally. So, I think Europe has learned quite a few lessons on what actually means to be a war-based continent. It doesn’t work out pretty well in the end.

Sean Weisbrot:
So, let’s get back to what the government wants to invest in, what they’re looking to invest in?

Mike Dragan:
So, they’re looking to invest in, uh, the hottest trends, which is AI, fintech, biotech and maybe digital commerce. As key areas the funds are directed to.

Sean Weisbrot:
Are any government setting up grants? Or do you have to just get lucky and find a VC that’s looking for you?

Mike Dragan:
You know, there’s, uh, there’s plenty of funds, grants and VCs that are willing to invest in companies that are interested in, in setting up shop in, in the EU. So from a investment perspective, I think things are only going to get better in the EU. Plus, there is one untapped resource that you know, no one is talking about in Europe. And most of the wealth in Europe in terms of private wealth is still tied to pretty old families that have kept the wealth blocked and not really moving. And they’re tending to change this perspective.

As you know, both inflation, given the outcome of Covid, seems to be shrinking their wealth, as well as new technologies and new ways of doing business are paying. So, they need to invest their wealth, otherwise they’ll just lose it. There’s a lot of potential in terms of investment in Europe that is just beginning to get unlocked. So if you’re looking to raise maybe additional funds, Europe might be a good place to start. Plus, property is definitely protected as opposed to other places in the world.

Sean Weisbrot:
You can say it China doesn’t protect IP. We know I’ve talked about it before.

Mike Dragan:
It’s not just IP, it’s private property. This is I think, one of the key things that is holding back the Chinese economy. And I know this because I’m coming from an ex-communist country, and not having your property insured as being yours is a key deterrent to economic prosperity in any country. That’s the big downside of communism.

Sean Weisbrot:
You just mentioned that old families are looking to start investing their money. Are they setting up what the Americans know as family offices, or are they similarly acting as like limited partners in VC firms and giving them the money to to invest for them?

Mike Dragan:
They’re splitting their strategies among different vehicles. So, one would be pairing up with, uh, the European Investment Fund to set up new VCs. Another one would be to set up their own investment offices or investment arms in their respective companies. So, for example, L’Oreal is doing this. LVMH is doing this. The Volkswagen Group is doing this. So, there’s plenty of companies that are creating their own investment vehicles to invest in innovation. There’s also direct investment. You just have to know the right people or be friend of the family. But definitely that’s doable. So, there’s multiple pathways that capital is getting unlocked at the moment.

Sean Weisbrot:
Do you think any of these kinds of investment firms or family offices? Do they require you like could could you set up a European company and a European bank account but live in Thailand and run your company? Like, can you be a remote company or do you have to be there with an office face to face? Because I’ve heard that European investors are very old school and even even through the virus, they’re like really dragging their feet about going digital and meeting people online.

Mike Dragan:
Yes, they are, uh, they’re very old school. I would say that there’s been an upwards movement in terms of investment digitally, given the the coronavirus outbreak. One other thing that we noticed is that there’s an uptick in private investment for small to mid-size investors. So basically a grassroots movement of investing digitally that will generate movement in the larger funds as well. And I think this is this is something that’s going to be applied throughout the world, even in the US. I mean, the whole idea of, you know, I have to meet you and, you know, just get the right feel for the handshake and, you know, just measure you up. It’s going away. This is getting a lot more digital now.
Sean Weisbrot:
Do you have to have a physical presence? Like even if they invest in you and they’ve never met you, do you have to be physically living and operating out of Europe for them to be willing to invest?

Mike Dragan:
I don’t think so. They’re very interested in return. So the key difference, um, between the US and European-based investment is that the US is looking at large volumes and potential outcomes in the future, whereas the European investment strategy is more based towards profit. So, if you’re showing profit and you’re showing you have real traction and you’re actually generating profit, you’ll probably get funded no matter where you do operations from, I think. I think you can technically set up a European based company, do business in Thailand, but also leverage your European presence to do business in Europe. I mean, it’s a pretty big market. If you’re setting up your company in the right place and have some good connections, you know, pairing these two things can work wonders

Sean Weisbrot:
If you have a company that’s profitable. Why would you really want to raise funds from investors?

Mike Dragan:
Yeah, that’s a that’s a very good question. And I’ve been struggling with it for the past 15 years. Uh, and initially I started as a bootstrap and entrepreneur because, you know, that was exactly my question, especially when I noticed the first invoices getting paid. I was making a lot of money, and I said, yeah, I can hire some people and can make more money and create better products and so on and so forth. But, uh, the world is moving very fast, so it will not wait for you to update your product organically. It will not wait for you to just wait two years. Get an understanding of how things are working and then, you know, build on top of what you already built. Basically venture capital funds or, you know, investment funds help you have a faster go-to-market strategy. Obviously, this helps when you have a go-to-market strategy and you have a pretty good idea of a product.

And the second idea is that it offers you a longer vision, right? So, when you’re bootstrapping and you’re operating even a midsize-level team, you’re always worrying about how you’re going to pay salaries, how you’re going to cover costs. What kind of money are you taking home? Is your product growing decently fast? So, you’re always stuck with this one-month vision term, whereas with, uh, investment funds you can increase that to, I don’t know, six months or one year. So instead of creating the best product you could in one month and then, you know, extend it from there, you can think about the best way to set up your product and go to market within six months or one year, get to do some interviews with customers. Get to talk with people all over the world, maybe change your market presence. Maybe it’s not a good idea to sell in Germany. Maybe it’s a good idea to sell in Texas.

So, you start playing around with a better understanding of the market and creating better products. So, there’s two things you get to understand the market and how to set up the product better. And then when you actually have it, you have a faster go-to-market strategy. And this is essential in cases such as, uh, you know, competing with larger companies because otherwise you’re stuck with the breadcrumbs. I was doing digital agency services. And basically, what we were doing is we were getting the outsource bits for companies that didn’t want to have a creative department in-house. And basically, we were creating stuff on top of the, like the platforms of Facebook or YouTube or, you know, optimizing for Google traffic. We could never dream of creating a company, even a fraction of those types of giants. So, this is definitely becoming doable with VC funds.

Sean Weisbrot:
You mentioned being stuck thinking at a one-month interval. And I was thinking, isn’t every company’s goal to be nimble? If you have a 12-month plan, but then every month you’re making tiny changes to what you’re doing based on that plan, in order to get to where you want to go as quickly as possible, and with the additional data and knowledge you have, what’s so wrong with thinking in one-month intervals?

Mike Dragan:
Well, technically, everything that we have around us hasn’t been built month over month. I mean, I’m holding a computer in front of my face. You’d say that’s an Apple computer, and you would say that the Apple computer has been brought to reality within the past, I don’t know, 20 or 30 years. It’s been, added Lovelace in the 17th century that theorised how a programming language would work. So, it took 300 years to get this thing working. You know, there’s been shifts and movements and it’s like, you know, when you’re planning on going somewhere and you’re working there, you will set a foot in front of the other, but you have an idea of where you’re going.

But if you just walk out the house and say, I’m going to work, it doesn’t really make sense and doesn’t really take you anywhere unless you have at least an idea of where you want to go. Of course, you need to be nimble if there’s a dead cat in front of you when you’re working at the house, you should take the other way around. If there’s a car blocking your way, you move around it. There’s a new construction place, just avoid because there’s noise and so on and so forth. But you know where you’re going. And I think, you know, this whole idea of thinking about what you want to do is underrated. In terms of entrepreneurship.

Sean Weisbrot:
I would argue that based on your explanation of, you see a car and you move when you’re doing business, it’s like you’re trying to go for a walk, but you’re blind. Because while you may have an idea of where you want to go, you don’t know if that car is going to suddenly appear. You don’t know if that dead cat is going to die in front of you. You don’t know what’s going to happen. And so, you have to be ready to make decisions in order to go. I’ve just been tapped by a car. You know, I should jump backwards or I should jump to the side, or I should wait for it to go. And so, yeah, it’s important to have an idea of where you want to go, but you’re kind of doing it blind.

Mike Dragan:
Yes. Yes, you are. And, you know, claiming the idea that you know what you’re doing is a fool’s game. All of us are so complex in terms of organisms and the way we think that we cannot actually predict the future. We might see some trends. Probably the smartest of us can, you know, predict some things, like, you know, five years, ten years in the future. But who would have predicted ten years ago that Elon Musk would ship an electric car on a private spaceship to Mars? I mean, that’s outlandish, but it happened, right?

Sean Weisbrot:
Let’s make an exception and say Elon Musk is probably one of the only people in the world who has the ability to say, I’m going to do this thing. It’s going to take 20 years, but I’m going to do it and it’s going to happen. And I don’t care what you think, go to hell, I’m doing it. Yeah. And then actually does it.

Mike Dragan:
I think we need more of that. And I think we need more longer-term plans for society as a whole. I’m actually thinking that one of the key businesses in the future, when I when I’ll be 60 or 80, if I’m still going to be alive, one of the key businesses in the world is going to be SpaceX or something, or molecular machines. Or maybe we’re not going to be the same species that we are right now. But this will only happen if someone is set up to do this and make this happen, because there’s a lot of will involved in all of these things.

Sean Weisbrot:
If you want to get into that. I could spend days talking about future tech, so I’ll avoid that here for the sake of brevity. What’s something I haven’t asked you yet that you wish I would ask?

Mike Dragan:
Why Texas? I think that that would be a question for a tech startup.

Sean Weisbrot:
I’ve been to Austin. I don’t need you to tell me why I would live there if I. If I committed to living in the US, I would happily live in Austin.

Mike Dragan:
This is definitely not something that a lot of entrepreneurs, especially not us born entrepreneurs, would choose, but I think it’s the best place I’ve seen in the US. It’s so amazing. I mean, the culture, the people that are amazing and that’s where the future is, is being built in the US.

Sean Weisbrot:
I think Texas is interesting because it’s close to the border. So, there’s not only white Americans, there’s also Mexicans, there’s large Vietnamese community over in Houston. There’s a lot of African Americans as well. And so what I noticed was almost a utopian, non utopian society where people treated each other nicely no matter where they came from or what they looked like or what their religion was, which is quite rare. Seeing Austin not be party to that was quite interesting for me.

Mike Dragan:
Exactly for me as well. And I really felt welcomed there. So,I love it.

Sean Weisbrot:
What’s something that you’ve learned recently that you’re implementing?

Mike Dragan:
There’s some SEO tactics that we’re implementing, but that’s that’s a bit boring. It’s web RTC. So basically what we’re doing right now, the way we’re connecting is through a real-time video broadcast and, you know, messaging protocol called web RTC, which enables a lot of telecommunications through web conferencing apps such as Hangouts or Zoom or basically all of them. So basically, they’re using a flavor of this type of protocol.

So basically, that’s what we’re implementing right now. It’s amazing. I mean, it allows you to do so much. And so far, I think it’s been used to its lowest potential. I mean, just. Directly communicating with someone else. I mean, just imagine doing, you know, commerce or telemedicine or real-time robotics operations or, you know, deep dive exploration or space exploration or, you know, there’s so much stuff that you can do with this protocol. And that’s what we’re implementing right now.

Sean Weisbrot:
How long until we have holograms? I mean, like really good holograms for communication?

Mike Dragan:
Well, it’s we have some shitty ones. I would say we’re not going to have holograms within the next 50 years. We’re probably going to have something in terms of augmented reality that would be probably directly brain-stimulated. So instead of having holograms, the way we’re imagining them right now, like you have a device in front of you and Princess Leia appears and, you know, she beams up like a message or something. It’s going to be directly stimulated in the brain. So, we’re going to have the holograms happening in our head directly. I think that that’s one of the key things that’s going to happen within the next ten years or so.

Sean Weisbrot:
So, everyone’s going to get a Neuralink chip uplink to the internet and then have the HUD exist inside of our eyes.

Mike Dragan:
No, I think that’s that’s a pretty rude, intrusive technology. I think there’s there’s better ways of doing that. And I think a lot of the ways that we’re thinking about the world right now in terms of technology is going to shift in the next ten years or so through molecular biology. So, it’s going to be less silicon-based technology and more carbon-based technologies. We’re going to program real beings, biological things to do work for us.

Sean Weisbrot:
How do you think shopping is going to change in the next 20 years? Because we’ve had smartphones, and smartphones can’t get any better unless you fold them or you twist them, or you get rid of the batteries so you can make them basically ultralight. They’re already in the 120, 150, maybe 200g max, but that damn battery is preventing us from really doing something good with the tech. So like, what do you think is going to happen?

Mike Dragan:
So, I think there’s going to show up some sort of glass-like technology. Glasses like technology. I think a Google Glasses fail not because of privacy issues, but because the technology sucked and it made you look weird. We need some sort of technology that makes you look cool, right? So the earbuds from Apple worked because people wanted earbuds, but it made them look cool. Right? So it was this whole statement.

So, I think there’s going to be some technology in that aspect, which is going to blend augmented reality and something like, you know, extended reality, right? So you’re looking at a shoe and you get information on how you know, this, this is getting thrown around quite a bit. You know, how is the sourcing being made? Where’s the materials coming from? Is it ecological? And so on and so forth. But this is probably something that’s going to happen in the future. Blockchain definitely some sort of blockchain will connect the world. I think it’s it’s happening right now. Uh, it’s just that a lot of commerce companies have been very late to adopt technology in any shape or form. I mean, they’re still stuck with ERP from the 90s. But, you know, this is changing right now.

Sean Weisbrot:
Sure. And that’s why you see a lot of companies in the US that were major powerhouse in big malls like Macy’s and JCPenney, all of these kinds of physical stores. A lot of them were really ignoring the shift to e-commerce, and they were too late to the game. And they were still mostly physical when the virus hit.

Mike Dragan:
And they’re all screwed. I think so, too. You know, another thing that’s going to change is that technology is going to get out of the way right now when you’re thinking about shopping. We’re thinking about a screen where you see photos of the products and some text for the products, but you don’t see the people that are operating those products and the actual products. You don’t see the product.

So, I think this is going to become a better experience. The technology is going to get out of the way, and we’re going to see some sort of sales superstars, commerce superstars, something like that. Right. So, people that have large followings in terms of buyers, not people that want to watch you at the beach in your swimsuit, but people that want to see what you’re recommending in terms of products.

Sean Weisbrot:
Sex will always sell. Let’s be honest there. Yeah, I’ve seen really interesting concepts like if you upload a picture of yourself will create like a 3D scan, show you a digital fitting room with AR and you can see the thing on your body.

Mike Dragan:
There’s going to be a lot of stuff using the artificial intelligence in terms of, you know, how things are fitting. I know L’Oreal is doing something like that with makeup, right? So right now they’re just at a phase where they’re doing photos. You upload your photo and it shows you with the makeup on. But in the future, given this, this new types of generative adversarial networks, you’re going to be able to see yourself wearing anything, having any kind of hairstyle, and it’s going to look realistic and in real, real life. So, you’re actually going to try on stuff that’s better than the shop. So, it’s going to fit even better than what the shop would do.

Sean Weisbrot:
Without a million people touching the same pair of clothes. And then everyone gets the virus, right?

Mike Dragan:
Exactly, exactly.

Sean Weisbrot:
This has been a very fun conversation for me. I appreciate it. Tell everyone how they can follow up with you soon.

Mike Dragan:
It’s been an amazing chat. Thanks for that. Anyone interested in what we’re doing, check out Streams. Live so that streams live. You can check me out on Twitter. Just look for my dragon. You can read me ramble about the future of e-commerce at Net.

Sean Weisbrot:
If you liked this episode and you’re curious about learning more about the EU and future tech, as Mike said, please contact him. I’ll put everything into the show. Notes that we live to build.com slash. Listen, don’t forget to leave a review on Apple Podcasts. It helps us to reach new audiences, so we appreciate it and we’d love to see your feedback as well.

Entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint, so take care of yourself every day.

Sean Weisbrot:
Thank you, Mike.

Mike Dragan:
Thanks, Sean.