BrickRose Exchange opened its doors in Baltimore's charming Canton neighborhood in 2019 as a meeting venue for business meetings and events – but then the Coronavirus pandemic struck.
Entrepreneur and founder Bianca Jackson strategized on how to adjust with her team. The creative solution they arrived at was virtual reality (VR). She began thinking more about how she could use virtual spaces to help her and her business – a question she hopes others will ask themselves too.
Jackson was introduced to VR as project manager for USA Today’s WallVR, a VR experience that enabled users to interact with a comprehensive digital map of the U.S.-Mexico border. She won a Pulitzer Prize for that project, and with this previous VR experience in her back pocket, adding virtual spaces for people to meet and collaborate in BrickRose Exchange was a logical step.
Her startup has since begun engaging communities in person and in the Metaverse. One of its latest VR events was the Black Love in the Metaverse show. Now even Facebook (aka Meta) is one of its sponsors.
Jackson says events, PR, or communications professionals want to pay attention to the Metaverse. She recently spoke to AVIXA about her experiences working with virtual reality.
So, it was in 2021 when you decided to add Metaverse Event Services to BrickRose Exchange. This was a big moment, clearly. What are some of the benefits of this virtual environment?
Bianca Jackson: “One big benefit is just doing something in a different, immersive way where people feel like they’re physically in the room with other people – where you can increase engagement, you can increase connection, and everyone can see each other in one space. It’s different than any video conferencing platform.”
I have also heard you mention that you had something cooking in the background for the elderly, and I just wanted to hear about that. What space do you think is there for the elderly to learn more about VR?
Bianca Jackson: “For the elderly, I think about them being storytellers, so I’m excited about bringing them in the Metaverse as navigators through time to really tell their stories of their cities, communities, and towns.”
Who are some of your big inspirations?
Bianca Jackson: “First and foremost, my inspiration when it comes to this was my team at USA Today. They were the catalysts. There is also a woman named Mary Spio who runs Ceek VR. And Cathy Hackl, who is really big in the space and primarily talks about Metaverse fashion. There are people doing tours for kids who can’t visit museums in person, so that’s inspiring too.”
Adaptability is key to staying relevant, and the Metaverse is buzzing in multiple industries now. What do you think is next for the Metaverse? What are some of the best upcoming projects that you have seen?
Bianca Jackson: “Well, my sources are saying focus more on gaming. Just recently, I also learned that the city of Las Vegas is creating something that they’re calling a Digital Twin, so projects like that are really the future too.”
What advice do you have for individuals and companies considering VR?
Bianca Jackson: “My advice would be to start today, this very second that you're reading this article. Don't wait another minute. Start Googling. Start Youtubing. Find a mentor. Attend a training class, like mine. Just do something.”
To learn more about Bianca Jackson, The BrickRose Exchange, and how the Metaverse could be your next stop in corporate meetings and events, click here.