The Wild’s extended reality (XR) platform is building a revolutionary virtual workspace for collaboration within architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) teams. The Wild’s virtual platform allows teams to work together inside digital project models to explore, interact, and make changes to the model directly in the cloud.
“In 2018, Elevate Capital invested in The Wild’s immersive collaborative platform, and we were proud to be part of The Wild’s entrepreneur journey, accomplishments, and successes throughout the years, said Nitin Rai, Elevate Capital Founder and Managing Partner.
On March 14, 2022, Autodesk acquired The Wild to accelerate augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) advancements within the AEC industry. “As a co-lead investor in The Wild, Elevate Capital is ecstatic about this investment exit that allows The Wild’s Latinx Founder and CEO Gabe Paez to support the growing demand for XR,” said Nitin.
Nitin recently sat down with Gabe to discuss how The Wild overcame challenges, sought out support, and empowered the team to bring The Wild to the next level.
What inspired you to start The Wild?
In many ways, I see my entire career as a series of moments that inspired me to start The Wild. When I graduated from college, I was a professional actor in New York City. Despite my success, I found myself unsatisfied because I had a yearning to innovate at the intersection of technology and human experience.
I spent almost a decade as an engineer chasing that dream in different ways. It wasn’t until 2016, with the advent of modern virtual reality hardware, that I could see a path to scaling that dream into the next chapter. There were countless failures and successes along the way that gave me the knowledge, confidence, and audacity to start The Wild.
Now that Autodesk has acquired The Wild, what role do you plan to hold?
I’m the Head of Products for XR. I lead the team that is building the future of augmented and virtual reality at Autodesk. This includes our existing products, The Wild and IrisVR, but will extend to others in the future.
Image provided by The Wild
How will The Wild joining forces with Autodesk aid in supporting the growing demand for XR?
Autodesk is the global leader in software tools for professionals working in 3D. They have solutions for a broad array of verticals, including Architecture, Engineering, Construction, Design, Manufacturing, Media, and Entertainment. We have a mandate to deploy XR solutions for these professionals and usher in the next generation of immersive collaboration for these teams.
What are the top three “aha” moments you’ve experienced as an entrepreneur since you started The Wild?
When I first saw a customer use our product on a real high-stakes project. When we were chasing $1M annual recurring revenue (ARR) for a few years, and then when we blew past it one day, I knew that we would double that in just a few months. When the acquisition with Autodesk finally closed, I literally fell on the floor in awe, replaying the past five years in my mind.
However, the most significant “aha” moment was discovering that my job was not to make everything happen on my own. Empowering other gifted people to do their best work is an incredible amplifier. I could see how providing inspiration, direction, and then autonomy to my teammates would create incredible results that would not be possible on my own.
What challenges do underserved entrepreneurs need to overcome?
Funding for the opportunity to even get started is an enormous hurdle. Startup culture romanticizes the idea of founders starting super light and not paying themselves for the first chapter of the company’s lifetime. To even attempt this is an immense privilege that is not available to many underserved entrepreneurs. Everyone deserves the right to pursue their dream and a living wage at the same time.
How important is a strong venture capital mentorship experience, and how does it impact a startup’s success?
I think it is critically important, especially for first-time founders because of the money that comes with venture capital (VC) and the profound experience that can only come from seeing many companies succeed and fail before. A combination of direct mentorship and networked mentorship are key drivers to successful outcomes.
What types of connections have you made and how has that helped the company grow? How about personal growth?
Connections to VCs have been instrumental in building my network and connecting me to more founders who have helped mentor and shape me as an individual. Living the experience of founding a company is incredibly humbling and a powerful vehicle for personal growth and transformation.
How has Elevate Capital helped you in your journey?
Elevate Capital has always been there when I needed help. That help has manifested in different forms, including networking, mentorship, and capital. All of this help has been instrumental in enabling the success of The Wild.
During the early stages of The Wild, what was one impossible challenge, and how did you overcome it?
Any impossible challenge is best tackled one step at a time. We found a lot of strength in iteration and not trying to get too caught up in the long term, which can often feel overwhelming and impossible.
What piece of advice would you give another aspiring entrepreneur?
Entrepreneurship is hard work for everyone. It’s important to keep in mind that even the people who look like they have got it all figured out have made many mistakes along the way and have experienced the same highs and lows that you are feeling.
It’s okay and normal to feel like you are failing. Nurturing your resilience to keep trying and striving forward in the face of fear is the secret to long-term success.
Pictured in the featured photo: Nitin Rai, Founder and Managing Partner at Elevate Capital, and Gabe Paez, Founder and CEO of The Wild at the 2018 Elevate Capital Inclusion Summit in Portland, Oregon.