Miramorai: merging learning needs with virtual reality

Nomineee #4

BY AVIA COLLINDER Business reporter collindera@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, June 16, 2016

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Jonathon Kelly, sole shareholder in Miramorai Interactive Learning Solutions (MILS), is on the hunt for investment partners who will share his dream of a global company involved in changing the face and pace of the learning process in various fields.


Miramorai merges customised content with physical technologies for individual and group learning environments. Products are enabled by the use of tablets, computers, interactive displays and other hardware "for a rich immersive experience".


Using hardware, software and 3D, the company transforms classrooms, boardrooms and training rooms into learning environments with the objective of vivid interactivity that motivates learning and encourages participation.


Kelly, the interactive software developer and managing director who has domiciled his company in The Bahamas but operates in Kingston, says he wants strategic partnerships in the first instance.


Those under consideration are liaisons with educational institutions, government agencies and book publishers to develop interactive customised content for primary, secondary and tertiary institutions.


Secondly, he said he is open to capital injections through partnerships with "knowledgeable investors with a passion for technology-based products and solutions."


Miramorai is officially one year old. However, Kelly and his team have created products which preceded this date that are part of the company’s current product line.


Headquartered on Winchester Road in St Andrew, the software developer currently employs six people, along with additional consultants for special projects.


Kelly is the last of three sons to an advertising executive father and educator mom. He says his first interaction with a computer was at the age of nine when his father took home a Commodore 64 personal home computer.


Fascinated, Kelly set about creating his first programme, a video game for which he actually received a small cheque from Microsoft. This, he says, was the spark lit in a lifelong passion for creating and developing software.


After graduating from Wolmer’s Boys’ School in Jamaica, and a stint at Broward Community College and Sheridan Tech in Florida, he continued to do projects involving IT solutions.


A project funded by international donors USAID followed which facilitated a move into teaching the development of software solutions and training people.


Additionally, Kelly says, he has developed solutions for several medium to large entities including Campari, the Jamaica Exporters’ Association, the Firearm Licensing Authority, the Fair Trading Commission and Jamaica Money Market Brokers.


Some years ago, observing an absence of Caribbean content for children, Kelly said he had "a vision to create something truly interactive, cutting edge and proudly Caribbean".


As a result, his brand "The JuiceMan" was born and featured Jamaica’s first print and mobile story book app that includes music, animation, narration, quizzes and games. This title is available through iTunes, Google Play, Amazon and Toys R Us.


His latest app, Island Ride: Discover Jamaica, has broken new ground for the region. Miramorai is also currently producing Ella and Dell © for the field of clinical health, designed to be a companion for children seven to 18 years old to interact with, play with, learn from, share and express their feelings in situations where they may be shy, afraid or reluctant to do so with a parent or guardian.


"In addition to facial mood recognition, a complex algorithm is used to communicate with the child based on their age and personality type on various issues that affect them," Kelly explains.


Within Jamaica and the Caribbean, quite a few developers have emerged in the education software development space; however, the owner of Miramorai says, "We have carved out a unique niche in mobile apps that focus on the Caribbean experience."


Products by Miramorai include culturally relevant books, games and educational mobile applications that serve as critical tools in the emotional, social and academic development of students throughout the Caribbean, as listed on its webste.


"In addition, MILS uses the same interactive and engaging approach in the creation of cutting edge software and hardware solutions to meet the training and marketing needs of a wide array of industries including hospitality, food and retail," it is stated.


The company also produces kiosks and displays, creating content paired with the hardware for interactive marketing solutions.


Kelly told the
Jamaica Observer, "Our main focus is the development of solutions that promote learning and discovery designed to scale quickly across markets."


The company, he said, sees Jamaica and the diaspora as its market.


"We provide applications that are accessible by persons in Jamaica and the diaspora through our digital distribution network. In addition, we also are involved in educational projects in the Bahamas and most recently, Africa."


He indicates that investment to date totals more than $2 million. From May 2015 to December 2015, gross revenue was in excess of $3.5 million.


With no start-up debt, break-even was attained within the first five months of operations, but increased expenses have pushed back projected profitability to the last quarter of 2016.


Kelly said the main challenge experienced to date is the slow adoption rate to the purchase of digital goods and services with a Caribbean focus.


"Because of the ‘digital culture’ people would like to obtain products for free; however, there is significant cost involved in the production and upkeep of these products," he observed.


The company has adopted other strategies to gain revenue "while meeting our consumer halfway and are consistently looking for new opportunities to reach new markets", he said, hinting that products and services are underpriced in many cases for the local market.


More robust revenue flows, he indicates, are likely to come through expansion beyond local and regional markets for products and services and the development of mobile applications that have an international appeal to widen and diversify our customer base.


Miramorai has the potential to become a high-growth company, Kelly asserts. Steps aimed at growing market share include continued diversification of products for consumer and commercial applications.


The Miramorai team is also looking at the localisation of content for other regional markets and also the development of unique projects to address social issues.

   

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