Interview with Scott Millar, Founder and CEO of Bop Industries
At only just sixteen years of age, Scott Millar, founder of Bop Industries, has already carved his name into the Brisbane startup scene. Originating from a school assignment, Bop Industries has grown from a key ring project into a promising holographic projection company, which might arguably be one of the most bizarre pivots in entrepreneurial history. Scott will be joining a number of notable speakers for our Creative3 event and in turn, stake a claim as our youngest member of the panel to date. We caught up with Scott quickly to talk about the future of technology, and what advice he’d give aspiring entrepreneurs.
Hi Scott! Can you tell us a little bit about how you started Bop Industries?
At my school (Sheldon College) in term 4 every year we get into groups, develop a product and pitch it at ‘Business Pitch’ for $100 capital. It’s just to put into practice all the theories we’d been learning throughout the year. My group did plastic key rings and I enjoyed it so much that in the summer holidays I started to sell the key rings at local markets as well as rulers, chokers – products like that. Then, in September 2015 I found holographic technology online made out of CD cases. It was just a party trick!
What did you think of it?
Well, as a kid I was really into Star Wars and Iron Man so I was completely enthralled with the technology. I really didn’t think I’d ever see something like that in my lifetime. When I found it online I immediately wanted to develop it further and push it out to the public to show that it’s happening right now and the sky’s the limit.
Since developing the product we’ve launched them online and have been selling them all around the world (I think 20 countries roughly) which has been fantastic. They’ve been used for everything, even night lights! Parents record themselves reading bedtime stories and their kids can play them in the night light when their parents are away.
Then we found out there was a real niche in the events industry. Classically, you’ve always just had a speaker behind a podium, maybe with a Powerpoint presentation. Now we have an option where you don’t have to fly in keynote speakers or buy them accommodation. You can simply film them, get the footage sent over and incorporate that with the Powerpoint. So, if they wave their arm they can have a bar graph come out of that or snap their fingers and have a product sitting in their hands!
You also now run workshops?
Yes, we do! We’ve just begun running STEM workshops which is really exciting. This started at the World Science Festival where we were recently given the opportunity to host hologram workshops. People responded really well, with a lot coming up to play with the holograms, film with them and take photos to make a hologram version of themselves.
From there we had about four schools and universities reach out to us and ask us to run workshops with them. So, I realised there was a real market for these sorts of workshops and I did some research and found there were lots of information technology and coding workshops out there that taught people how to use the technology but not the way the technology works.
We teach about artificial intelligence, hologram vs virtual reality and emerging technologies. The goal is to really simplify it and show people that you don’t have to be really rich or really smart to use these STEM technologies. They’re really easy, fun, interactive and anyone can do it. We’re running them all across Queensland, and have even had some in New South Wales, which we’re heading down in a few weeks to run. We’re also working in the theatre space and are about to branch out into the retail and sporting space. Some cool updates there!
What’s the five-year plan for Bop Industries?
Oh geez, I don’t even know the five-minute plan! The five-year plan is definitely going to be exciting, with all these technologies fusing together to create one super technology. Essentially, what I’m trying to do is get as much exposure with the holograms as I can, really get it out there and get people talking about it. That’s how technology grows and develops – there’s no way you can develop a technology to its full potential by keeping it a secret. You’ve got to get it out there and make it accessible to people. We’ve developed our business by having clients come to us wanting to use the holograms but not knowing how to incorporate them. So we work with them to find a solution.
I think in the next 5-10 years, free floating holograms will be a reality where you can be face-timing someone on the other side of the world and have them standing there just like in Star Wars, floating above your phone!
I’ll also be expanding the workshops, giving kids across Australia and the world access to emerging technologies and showing them just like how I started with the holograms. Kids can use these technologies just in their room with cut out sticky tape. There’s really nothing to them.
How did you get involved with Creative3?
I’d already done some events with people who work for Creative3 and I was contacted to provide a centrepiece and through this chat, I was asked to be a speaker. It was mainly to provide a unique, fresh perspective on being a young person who’s still in school and heavily involved in the startup scene in Brisbane. I’m really looking forward to it!
Any advice for young people who have an idea?
My advice for people my age or any age is to just start! Start meeting people, start getting your idea out there, build your network, do your market research and don’t be afraid to pivot. We’ve moved our company from selling key rings in markets to running hologram displays and events across the country. Don’t be afraid of change, get your idea out there and just start talking to people!