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Fear & Greed, Fear and Greed

When tech giant Apple launched its new Vision Pro virtual reality headset, it featured an Australian company’s invention, suddenly seen by millions around the world.

Zac Duff, co-founder and CEO of JigSpace, talks to Jennifer Duke about that moment – and how it has helped to propel this innovative Aussie business to another level.

Find out more: https://fearandgreed.com.au

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

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Jennifer Duke: Welcome to the Fear and Greed Business interview. I’m Jennifer Duke.

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Jennifer Duke: This is a pretty remarkable story. One minute you’re an

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Jennifer Duke: Australian startup creating 3D virtual models for the Metaverse. The next,

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Jennifer Duke: tech giant Apple is using your technology in the demonstration

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Jennifer Duke: of its Vision Pro virtual reality headset. It’s exactly what

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Jennifer Duke: happened to JigSpace whose tech was featured in the Apple

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Jennifer Duke: presentation marking a major step forward, not just for the

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Jennifer Duke: technology but the JigSpace business. Zac Duff is the Co-Founder

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Jennifer Duke: and CEO of JigSpace. Zac, welcome to Fear and Greed.

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Zac Duff: Thanks, Jen. It’s great to be here.

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Jennifer Duke: So firstly, can you walk me through exactly what JigSpace does?

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Zac Duff: So JigSpace is a 3D presentation platform. It empowers teams to easily communicate

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Zac Duff: big ideas in augmented reality. So we have businesses ranging

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Zac Duff: from industrial giants like PepsiCo, Medtronic, Thermo Fisher, all the

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Zac Duff: way down to niche manufacturers, and they’re bringing their complex

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Zac Duff: products to market using Jigs, so it makes it easier

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Zac Duff: to understand and access their product knowledge and information, and

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Zac Duff: it kind of gets their customers to that aha moment

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Zac Duff: quicker. And they’re using that in sales, marketing, product training,

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Zac Duff: those kind of places.

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Jennifer Duke: And I know I mentioned Apple right at the beginning,

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Jennifer Duke: but before we get to that, can you explain a

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Jennifer Duke: little bit more in detail about what sort of companies

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Jennifer Duke: have been using your technology and how they’re using those

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Jennifer Duke: Jigs to do that communication piece?

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Zac Duff: Yeah, so some of the companies we’ve been working with

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Zac Duff: now for a little while are Medtronic, Panasonic, PepsiCo, Thermo Fisher.

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Zac Duff: So they’re companies that are selling complex, technical, expensive products

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Zac Duff: that are hard to communicate or difficult to explain. And

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Zac Duff: there’s also a really high transaction value on that product.

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Zac Duff: So if you think about, say, manufacturing automation, so there’s

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Zac Duff: a lab automation company in the UK called Automata. They

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Zac Duff: sell medical lab fit-outs. So they’ll go into a lab,

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Zac Duff: and medical labs haven’t changed in a hundred years, so

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Zac Duff: it’s a person standing at a desk dealing with a

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Zac Duff: sample here, moving along, putting it in a new machine.

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Zac Duff: It’s been exactly the same. So when COVID hit, they

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Zac Duff: started to sell their medical lab kind of fit-outs, this

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Zac Duff: automation with a robot arm and this whole really interesting

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Zac Duff: bench they’d created that would allow them to connect software

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Zac Duff: and hardware together. To sell that, I mean, you can

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Zac Duff: even hear with the explanation I’m giving of it, it’s

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Zac Duff: a pretty complex thing and to visualise it and to

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Zac Duff: put that into a lab is a really complex process.

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Zac Duff: That sales cycle is six months or more. So they’re

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Zac Duff: using Jig in their sales process and in their communication

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Zac Duff: with their customer to really shorten that time. So they’re

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Zac Duff: reducing their sales cycle by 75%. So they’re down to

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Zac Duff: six weeks with a sale because not only can they

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Zac Duff: explain it and show it in 3D with augmented reality, they

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Zac Duff: can place it right there in the customer’s lab and they

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Zac Duff: can show what the new layout will be, how the

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Zac Duff: robot will work. They’ll show how it interacts with their

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Zac Duff: existing equipment. They can then when they have a change

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Zac Duff: request in that process, rather than taking the 20 days

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Zac Duff: that it used to take to turn around a change

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Zac Duff: request in that kind of sales process, they can now

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Zac Duff: do it 15 minutes after the phone call. So they’re

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Zac Duff: just dramatically shortening the time it takes to get people

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Zac Duff: to that point where they go, “Yep, great. I understand this.

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Zac Duff: Let’s move forward.”

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Jennifer Duke: That’s incredible. And now I guess onto the bit that

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Jennifer Duke: we’re all really eager to hear about as well as

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Jennifer Duke: see is Apple. And when you found out that Apple

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Jennifer Duke: was going to be using JigSpace in its demonstration, what was

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Jennifer Duke: that moment like and when about did you find out?

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Zac Duff: It’s pretty amazing. We were very fortunate to get tickets

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Zac Duff: to WWDC (Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference) to see it, and it’s a pretty amazing

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Zac Duff: moment to see your stuff and the work that you

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Zac Duff: do on the biggest stage. So it’s pretty surreal. The

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Zac Duff: thing I love about it though is the vision and

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Zac Duff: the breadth the vision for this technology and what it

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Zac Duff: means for our customers, is crazy. And to be aligned

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Zac Duff: with what Apple are doing is a really big thing

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Zac Duff: for us. But it’s also, the fact is we’re the

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Zac Duff: best in the world at this and so they want

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Zac Duff: to work with the best and that’s why we’re in

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Zac Duff: those places.

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Jennifer Duke: Definitely, and Vision Pro is one of those much more

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Jennifer Duke: talked about presentations that we’ve heard of in a long

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Jennifer Duke: time. What did that mean for you and your business

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Jennifer Duke: in that moment?

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Zac Duff: It’s a great marketing platform. Quite a few people watch that.

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Zac Duff: I think there’s like 30 million views on it through

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Zac Duff: various platforms. So there was a lot of eyeballs on that.

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Zac Duff: And we were working with one of our partners who’s

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Zac Duff: the Alfa Romeo F1 team. So we’ve been working with them

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Zac Duff: for a couple of years and the Jig that we showed,

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Zac Duff: the 3D presentation was of their car and that was

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Zac Duff: really cool. So visually it’s a really impressive piece and

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Zac Duff: that means that all the articles that come out about

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Zac Duff: the Vision Pro, they want to use the F1 car

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Zac Duff: as the key visual. So that’s been really cool. But

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Zac Duff: it also means our customers have come to us and

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Zac Duff: said, “Well, we saw you there. How do we get in?

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Zac Duff: We want to have deeper integration with what you’re doing

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Zac Duff: so that we can use this when it comes out.”

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Zac Duff: And it means that investors are reaching out to us more.

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Zac Duff: So it’s really, it’s the effect we wanted and we

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Zac Duff: put a lot of effort into making that very smooth.

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Zac Duff: We update our website the moment it happened, there was

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Zac Duff: a lot of stuff that went into it.

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Jennifer Duke: Stay with me, Zac. We’ll be back in a minute.

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Jennifer Duke: I’m talking to Zac Duff, Co-Founder and CEO of JigSpace. Do you

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Jennifer Duke: see applications in the future that are much more consumer- based?

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Jennifer Duke: Because obviously at the moment you’re doing a lot of

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Jennifer Duke: commercial industrial and there’s a very clear use case there.

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Jennifer Duke: When will lots of Aussies be able to see the Jigs?

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Zac Duff: Well, you can use it right now. There’s a free

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Zac Duff: app and it is used in schools a lot. So

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Zac Duff: there is, in the early days actually, where Jig came from,

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Zac Duff: I had been making video games for about 10 years

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Zac Duff: and I came back to Australia and wanted to teach

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Zac Duff: game design. So I was teaching in a college, had

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Zac Duff: distance education students, they couldn’t come into a school to

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Zac Duff: learn and their engagement rates drop off dramatically, like in

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Zac Duff: the first three weeks. If you don’t get them engaged,

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Zac Duff: it’s really hard to re-engage. So we created a live

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Zac Duff: teaching platform in virtual reality. It was one of the

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Zac Duff: first in the world of its kind, but in that platform,

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Zac Duff: this beautiful environment, students could be there, they could be

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Zac Duff: talking to each other, a teacher up the front with

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Zac Duff: a big screen behind them, and they had their own virtual computer,

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Zac Duff: we called a slate that they could do their coursework on.

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Zac Duff: But all of the knowledge we had in this world

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Zac Duff: where we could create anything, all of the information was

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Zac Duff: a PowerPoint or a PDF. So it was this 2D

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Zac Duff: information in a 3D world. That’s kind of where Jig

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Zac Duff: was born, was how would we communicate quickly in three dimensions?

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Zac Duff: The technology and the hardware was converging. I could see that

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Zac Duff: from my work in arcade games that the software and the

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Zac Duff: hardware was going to converge into a headset of some

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Zac Duff: kind that was light enough, powerful enough, high resolution enough

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Zac Duff: to actually bring knowledge into the world, 3D knowledge. So

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Zac Duff: I took a Friday off, started prototyping what I thought

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Zac Duff: would be PowerPoint for 3D, and that’s kind of where

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Zac Duff: it was born. But to go back to that consumer

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Zac Duff: angle and where will people use it, the very first

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Zac Duff: Jig that I made was the instructions for assembling an

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Zac Duff: IKEA table.

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Jennifer Duke: That’s amazing.

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Zac Duff: So the little LACK table, just four table legs and

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Zac Duff: a tabletop, every uni student has one at some stage,

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Zac Duff: but that was like a light bulb moment because seeing

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Zac Duff: that assembly process in three dimensions and you think as

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Zac Duff: it gets more and more complex, the ability to understand

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Zac Duff: something spatially in the same way that we experience reality,

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Zac Duff: the same way our brains are wired to learn is

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Zac Duff: a profound moment. And I sat back and thought, okay,

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Zac Duff: if I look at my air conditioner on the wall

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Zac Duff: and I think I want to change the filter on

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Zac Duff: that, I don’t need to get someone out to change

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Zac Duff: the filter on my air conditioner, but I’m going to

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Zac Duff: have to because I don’t know how it works.
But

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Zac Duff: if Mitsubishi had made a Jig for that product and

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Zac Duff: it would show me how it pulled apart and how

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Zac Duff: I could replace it in 3D right there on that

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Zac Duff: thing, that would be a massive game changer for everyone

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Zac Duff: and it would allow people to really understand the world

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Zac Duff: around them. So that was what I wanted to build

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Zac Duff: was a platform where you could look at anything and

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Zac Duff: ask how does it work? How do I fix that?

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Zac Duff: What’s that made of? And the answer was available right there in front

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Zac Duff: of you. So we’re starting in this manufacturing commercial area,

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Zac Duff: but the idea is that humanity’s knowledge in 3D is

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Zac Duff: where we want to be.

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Jennifer Duke: And we are all incredibly visual creatures. So I am

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Jennifer Duke: pretty eager to know where you’re heading to from here.

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Jennifer Duke: You’re obviously an Aussie business. You’re growing pretty rapidly, you’re

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Jennifer Duke: getting a lot of exposure, but Australia’s notoriously a very

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Jennifer Duke: difficult time zone. Are you planning to move operations overseas?

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Jennifer Duke: Have you got some expansion plans in mind?

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Zac Duff: Yeah, we definitely do. So we’re just in the process

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Zac Duff: of setting up kind of our beach shed in the

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Zac Duff: US. So we do work pretty crazy hours, I think,

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Zac Duff: to service our customers, most of which are in Europe

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Zac Duff: and the US, so it is some long nights, but the

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Zac Duff: expansion into the US will be fantastic. We’ve started to.

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Zac Duff: We’ve been product- led the whole way, we’ve kind of

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Zac Duff: been.
We believe that the product and the person using

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Zac Duff: it needs to be the most important thing for us,

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Zac Duff: rather than just going in at a high level and

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Zac Duff: selling, we wanted to make sure that it really worked

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Zac Duff: for the end user, the person who’s stuck with it,

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Zac Duff: the knowledge worker, like the non- technical worker who has

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Zac Duff: to crank out all the knowledge content. So we’ve focused

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Zac Duff: very heavily on that, but now we’re starting to spin

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Zac Duff: up our sales team as our customers that started out

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Zac Duff: on the free tier and have been moving up through

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Zac Duff: the different paid tiers. We’re starting to get enterprise contracts

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Zac Duff: from that organic growth, and we now have kind of

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Zac Duff: the motion in place so that we can go out and start to sell those bigger enterprise contracts.

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Jennifer Duke: Which I guess brings us to the money. So over

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Jennifer Duke: the last couple of years, you’ve done a couple of

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Jennifer Duke: funding rounds totalling about US$10 million. So are you profitable

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Jennifer Duke: yet or are you still in that growth phase?

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Zac Duff: Still in the growth phase, but we’re moving towards it

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Zac Duff: pretty rapidly at the moment. So we really only started

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Zac Duff: commercialising in the last about 14 to 16 months when we started to

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Zac Duff: put out our pricing model that we’re working on now,

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Zac Duff: and that’s all been product-led organic growth. And we’re past

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Zac Duff: half a million in rev now, so it’s starting to

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Zac Duff: grow now as we put this kind of the afterburners

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Zac Duff: on with the sales motion, it’s going to really start

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Zac Duff: ramping up.

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Jennifer Duke: Definitely. Zac, thank you very much for talking to Fear and Greed.

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Zac Duff: No worries. It’s been great to be on here.

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Jennifer Duke: And that was Zac Duff, the co- founder and CEO of JigSpace.

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Jennifer Duke: This is the Fear and Greed daily interview. Join us

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Jennifer Duke: every morning for the full episode of Fear and Greed,

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Jennifer Duke: Australia’s best business podcast. I’m Jennifer Duke, economics correspondent for

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Jennifer Duke: Capital Brief and filling in for Sean Aylmer. Have a

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Jennifer Duke: great day.