What it's like to work at a company that creates ~augmented reality~
Negin Singh is the Director of Inspiration for DAQRI, the world’s leading enterprise augmented reality company. Basically, if virtual reality is an escape from the real world, then augmented reality enhances your real world. On top of this, she side hustles as the CEO for cARTel: Collaborative Arts LA, which produces large-scale arts events like BROKE LA (a Los Angeles-based music festival).
6:15 a.m.: I’m up. No alarm. Before I do anything else, I check my phone for urgent (and not so urgent) emails from our international offices (I currently have 20+ people reporting to me in four time zones, and my boss and CEO are traveling this week.) Nothing time-sensitive. I went to sleep at 1 a.m., so I set my alarm for an hour and go back to bed.
6:42 a.m.: Jk. I’m up. Before I dive into emails, I warm up my brain with some clicking around on social media. Learned a new term: “Situationships”
7:14 a.m.: Done with first round of DAQRI emails. Switch over to BROKE LA (The 5,000 person music festival I executive produce) emails. Oh, don’t forget to post about your brother’s birthday (Happy 27th, Omid!)
9:45 a.m.: Hang out with the husband (he owns a restaurant and work nights, so mornings are our thing), got a smoothie from Berry Bowl (Peanut Butter Banana Coconut Milk Strawberries and Cacao Nibs) and now we’re off to work. Fun fact: Peanut Butter Smoothies are my Power Up.
10:15 a.m.: On my way to work. Probably a good time to try and explain what Augmented Reality is for those who don’t know. Most people know about Virtual Reality, which is an immersive escape from the real world. Augmented Reality ENHANCES your real world by integrating digital information in real time onto your environment, basically all the tech Tony Stark uses. DAQRI is one of the leading AR hardware and software developers in the space. And I get to make cool AR experiences that showcase what it is we do to the world.
11:00 a.m.: First in-person meeting of the day with my LA based Leads Zac and Nick (Inspirations Tech Manager and Project Manager) On the docket: Big budget review for our team on Monday, performance reviews for team members (due today!), two big partnership agreements, planning for a trip to San Francisco to check out the Experiential and Neurogaming Technology Conference, Design and Development reviews of the app we’re about to finish, and more. And this isn’t a busy week.
11:30 a.m.: Daily Stand up with the Inspiration team (16 people, a split of designers, developers, and project managers. 90% men, but we’re working to change that.) This check-in meeting usually lasts about 15 minutes, it’s called a Stand Up because it’s supposed to be short enough to where you can stand up for the entire length of it.
Our team is currently working on ARToolKit. ARToolKit is a Software Developer Kit that allows people to create their own AR experiences, but contribute back to the community via open source so that others can learn and use their discoveries. It’s sort of like if Photoshop and Wikipedia had a baby- you could create, contribute, and learn all at the same time! Make sense? Need another example? It’s like if you could play a video game that you could then build another level on at the end, and then the makers of the game could decide if it goes in, and then the entire gaming community could play your game and also see how you made it.
12:30 p.m.: Mentoring a girlfriend of mine who wants to grow professionally. She wants to expand her work scope and make the jump from execution to strategy, which is great and deserves all the #ladyboss hashtags.
1:00 p.m.: Interviewing a User Experience intern for the summer. Loved her website. My favorite quote from her: “If you know the concept but don’t know how to break it down for someone, it’s useless.”
1:37 p.m.: Peanut Butter Smoothie Update: we’ve got ¼ left to go.
1:45 p.m.: The conference room we’re in has a table that’s actually a white board, which further proves that I work in the future.
2:59 p.m.: I have lost my smoothie and I’ve got two more meetings to go. And I forgot about lunch. And Uber Eats window for delivery has closed. WHY DO I DO THIS TO MYSELF!?
5:15 p.m.: I’m home! The dogs rush down the stairs, and huzzah, my FRESHLY box has arrived.
6:00 p.m.: Need to make additional slides for an Inspiration internal presentation – before we showcase our work to the world, it’s important that our internal team gets to play with it and give feedback.
7:00 p.m.: Head to Dollar Tree to pick up decor for my husband’s 30th birthday party on Saturday. The theme is “Pool Party without a Pool.” Also, Lisa Frank puffy stickers (but those are just for me.)
8:10 p.m.: Hit up Yoga Sculpt at Namaste Highland Park. It’s intense. Yoga, pilates, weights, the whole shebang. Leave feeling tingly. Call up the hubs, he’s bringing food home after he closes the restaurant, so I’m waiting up for my man and my burrito.
8:00 a.m.: Start planning my schedule for my business visit to Europe (meetings and events.) I leave the day after BROKE LA. I’m Working From Bed (WFB) this morning, which means one of my dogs, Amigo, is tucked firmly under my arm while Raani is curled at my feet.
8:48 a.m.: Found a Bhangra Remix of Rihanna’s “Work”– so I’ve already won today.
9:15 a.m.: Jump rope, shower, walk the dogs, chai, out the door.
10:30 a.m.: Took an “official” DAQRI photo with our in-house media team. Off to sync up with Nick and Zac. Everyone is asking for our team to jump on everything, so it’s time to wade through!
11:27 a.m.: Budget for Inspiration sent to Finance. Tons of moving pieces, and everything can change (Welcome to being a funded start-up!). In the coming few months, our team will work on creating onboarding experiences for our hardware (have you met the DAQRI Smart Helmet?), create DAQRI Education experiences that will teach students about AR through chemistry and anatomy, work with our Human Potential team (HR, for non DAQRI-ites) to put together an employee AR onboarding experience, and experiment with different technologies that we could integrate into our own work. It’s going to be busy.
11:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.: Daily Team Stand Up. Followed by Smart Helmet Experience Design Research Meeting. Followed by our Open Source User Persona Meeting. Followed by App Design Review Meeting. Followed by Phone Call with our User Interface and Illustration contractors. Followed by scheduling Monday and Tuesday’s meetings. Good thing I ordered sandwiches today.
4:28 p.m.: Our teams new job posts are live!. I was employee 59 at DAQRI, it’s crazy to see us balloon to 350+ in less than three years!
5:34 p.m.: I’m home and the cleaners are here and thank goodness because our house is a mess and we have so many people coming over tomorrow for Rob’s birthday. I grab the dogs and take them for a walk and pick up an Acai Bowl (#basic), my favorite “library” themed candles, a smudge stick for Robin (he loves sage), and some tiny “X” earrings. I lay in the grass on our lawn while they finish up.
6:15 p.m.: Catching up on 100 more BROKE LA emails that range from tech specs to whether or not dogs are allowed past 8:00 p.m. Switch over to final end-of-week DAQRI emails.
7:32 p.m.: Leave the house to meet up with ladyfriend Kit Steinkellner (of past HelloGiggles fame!) to see “Father Comes Home from Wars” at the Mark Taper Forum. Suzan-Lori Parks is one of my absolute favorite playwrights, so I go with high hopes.
11:00 p.m.: I’m in one million little pieces after that performance. Time for late night sushi with the husband while I think about the bigness of what I just watched. Big, happy sigh-art in LA is alive and well!
7:10 a.m.: I’m up! Email check. Answer budget questions from my CMO, who is in London visiting our Agency.
9:00 a.m.: Smoothie of the day: Pineapple, Spinach, Coconut, Mango. I’m in a tropical state of mind.
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.: The meetings begin. First up, Sync with in-house counsel about contracts with new companies we want to work with. Then the daily stand ups. Theme for the day: LASER FOCUS.
12:00 p.m.: Lunch with our print vendor. Layouts for ALTERRA featuring a retro-future comic book that comes to life via AR. It can’t just look good, it has to FEEL good. Texture, sizing, rip-outs, the whole thing.
1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.: Show-And-Tell: My favorite part of the week. Our team presents all of the work that has gone into our app. Folks from QA (Quality Assurance) join us because it’s their job to test the app on all the devices and basically, try and break it and report back to us where we missed things. Fun job for those who liked to destroy stuff as a kid!
3:00 p.m.: Events Sync Up. Members from Inspiration, Product, Events, Customer Engagement, and more get together to talk about the events calendar every week, so we can figure out who is showing what where and how. When you’re showcasing brand spanking new technology, you have to be very, very careful who gets to see what, and what promises are made where. Plus, it’s got to be DAQRI awesome.
4:00 p.m.: My leads and I discuss, and we decide to offer the intern we interviewed a position! So excited.
7:00 -10:00 p.m.: 30 person BROKE LA meeting at my house. These are some of my favorite, favorite people on the planet, getting together every week to put together something we really believe in from the ground up. I am so lucky to work at DAQRI, where they not only know about what I do outside of work, but support it fiercely. Though it seems like I’m doing too much, producing stuff like BROKE LA keeps me centered and plugged into the arts and culture scene, which I then get to bring back into the office to create new, cutting-edge experiences. It’s a lovely circle, if I do say so myself.
11:00 p.m.: Watch the season finale of Girls (omg, this season) and then it’s lights out. Actual sleeping thought: Women are making some very good stuff out in the universe right now. I’m glad to be a part of it.