July 2020 is coming to an end: exactly two years ago, in my little courtyard in the South of France, under the vines and the scent of the olive tree, we were a whole bunch of us imagining this thing that would soon become Altair 5G Theatre.
We started with what we all know very well – and we thought this was a major obstacle.
We started with the Living Shows companies.
We know that they are losing audiences, that they can’t get young people – but they want: the ephemeral – the real life – the real performance: the living, in short.
It took a few months to put them in “our” pockets. Not the small companies – the big ones, the international ones, the ones that don’t seem to need Altair. They came with us & we were proud.
It was December 2018.
We wrote, together – and in real good English, since the final version was written by our friend Adam – who is a true Englishman whose skin doesn’t like our sun – the first Altair professional file.
With the means at hand, of course – no crazy word processor, no modern-day stuff… – .
From then on, I – Barbara – took over. Perhaps I’m the one who is most interested and amused by this project.
We discussed the localization: I imposed Dubai – I had given in for Neom.
We discussed how to go further: I sent our file everywhere.
In March 2019, I get a promise of investment of 50 million dollars. In June 2019, from another company, the same amount.
And then… I understood that we were not ready.
Because – or am I dumb? – I didn’t want to spend so much money in France. In order not to pay French taxes you have to live somewhere else – where Altair will succeed.
But what we need before we can admire the beautiful building site is year zero financing: the one where we set the costs, where we set up the first serious VR and DLC contracts, where we establish committed contacts with the gaming companies, where we set up all the first year’s programming, where we identify the best architecture for Altair etc etc etc.
In short: one year, I’m optimistic. That’s right, I’m an optimistic girl.
And so, to release the money for the construction of Altair right away – when I don’t have my zero year(s) and pretend that yes, quietly, in ten years I will pay it back – or I will have profitable financial returns in two years – no.
Saying this is not serious.
Sometimes I am serious – when it comes to money, I become less literary.
I didn’t turn down those contributions. The first company dropped out for now, because they wanted a quick start – and guarantees that we couldn’t give. I told you: we are all poor like Job here.
I explained this to the second company: they’ve agreed to wait for us. They’re decent guys.
The problem for us with these two investors is that they are not French.
The first one was in Taiwan, the second “badly” located: so in France, nobody will follow us.
On the other hand, the French follow our progress: I was able to get in touch with a senior BNP Paribas manager, then with the BPI France representative and now I have a “professional” foot in Dubai.
But I felt trapped.
So – I figured I had to unblock our situation by talking to more people.
I remembered that every time someone talks to me about something, I’m going to look it up on the internet.
Altair didn’t exist on the internet.
That was the stage at the end of May 2019.
So I launched the Altair website on which I’m writing today. WordPress because it’s easy to get hold of, and because it’s not too expensive.
And then I looked for another way. I took my little hands, my little courage, I searched everywhere – and I managed to get in touch with Ubisoft. It wasn’t too “French”, because in 45 minutes, I got an email offering me a very high-profile meeting.
Result of the races: they like the project – they will surely go – but on the other hand, no help (for the moment) to get started.
In the meantime, I had understood that people who invest a lot ask for a Business Plan. And that in this Business Plan, the “financial file” part is particularly important.
Obviously, we still don’t have a penny to finance these studies.
Everybody loves our idea. But helping us get started, aggg, too hard.
So I called France’s biggest business school: HEC.
I asked them if we couldn’t get their senior students to work on the project.
And I should have had my financial part, for a modest cost (important for us, but objectively not expensive).
It was September 2019. It was concluded at the end of the year.
But then there was the coronavirus. And I didn’t get the Financial File of the Business Plan, which I don’t know how to do. I have everything else. It’s great, there are target audiences in tables with ways to target them, communication and everything – I even had, at my request, the list of fundamental objections against Altair – but not the most accurate. I got this file a short time ago.
I didn’t stay without doing anything while waiting for this file: I applied for a lot of proposals on the sites dedicated to start-ups.
I’ve committed all the money I could get on a prototype that was supposed to show what I want to do in virtual reality. Okay, well… s…, man. It was supposed to be done by April 2020.
I almost went to Italy… at the end of March 2020. And then I didn’t.
I was able to attend virtual meetings with investors who don’t scare the French. So I’m waiting for the end of this viral wave.
I was able to connect with American companies that are interesting for Altair.
At least, I refuse to say that this virus killed me. It hasn’t yet.
Now here’s where we are:
I have the enthusiastic agreement of very large live performance companies to embark on Virtual Reality and motion capture.
I finally found a technical company for Motion Capture and 360° shooting that is ultra efficient for very fast and very bumpy movements of several people.
And besides, it’s not too expensive (compared to all the others, there are a lot of different technologies, we’re in high tech, it changes all the time).
I’ve got enough to drive Ubisoft.
I’ve got Epic Game and Fortnite to prove to the unbelievers that the idea works and is profitable.
I don’t have that financial file and I don’t know how to do it.
I know how much it costs to build a new theatre, not much smaller than Altair.
I know how much it costs to hire performing arts companies–and I have a pretty good idea of the returns on that investment.
I have a “range” of costs on the virtual part – but this requires a more documented study than I have been able to obtain.
I haven’t been able to find out the terms of Epic Game’s contracts with its artists: that would have given me a more precise idea of what we can offer and therefore: how much we invest/how much we get back/ after how long we earn.
So: I’m gonna keep knocking on all the doors and broadcasting what I’m doing.
I’m going to give up I think the French doors – We’ve lost a year actually.
I’m re-launching my idea to participate in Neom – because, in the end, I really like this idea. I’ve already done it and I’m going to follow it carefully.
I keep on crying everywhere to get the initial funding and to get the financial part done seriously.
I have enough material to bring my little figure and my solutions to all those big companies that can’t make money with virtual reality.
After that, we’ll see.
As for this site…It allows me to think more and more about what I want for Altair. At the level of its programming of shows (my part: Reality), at the level of the games in which it can intervene (my part: Virtuality); at the level of its implementation (my part: Machinery); at the level of its communication and its potentialities to win audience and money (my part: Business), at the level of its creativity, that is to say the different ways to attract and retain the audience (my part : Cre activity) and the Festivals/Events thought to attract a ‘blockbuster’ audience (my part: Boring events?).
And right now, frankly, I don’t regret the passage of time. Altair’s really becoming a monster just the way I like them.
By the way, did I tell you that I finally, by chance, found the “keystone” of my 3 Festivals ? I’m delighted !
And then, to the worst of the worst for me, even if I have to give up, there’s already enough there to achieve almost what I have in mind – or even do better, I’m not the genius of the decade either. I’m not saying this because I’m giving up. But you can’t imagine how many people are telling me to give up – it’s too big, too difficult, impossible to do from France. It’s true, by the way. But it amuses me and it interests me. So I keep going.
If you master those skills that we don’t have, if you know people, if you want to be part of the Altair adventure – don’t hesitate, I don’t play “personal” and yes, we need help.
Featured Image : Climbing – no, that’s not me. I’ve never been able to do this, I’m too scared. But I totally admire people who put themselves in physical situations like this. I do it ‘mentally’, my friends are telling me I’m gonna to break my face. Never mind.