Interview by Amanda McIntyre-Chavis
Johanna Salazar is an Executive Producer and Partner at Two Goats VR. With over 17 years of experience in TV Production, Content Strategy and Format Development, she has a history of launching Linear and Digital networks for US and Global Audiences. Johanna has produced and developed multi-million dollar productions, integrated new and emerging technologies into creative storytelling, and loves making sense of data. Formerly, Vice President of Production Planning & Operations for the Content Management & Production Technologies Group at Viacom, for the following brands: MTV, VH1, LOGO, Comedy Central, SPIKE, CMT, TV Land & Paramount Network. Johanna has also worked with Youtube, Cirque Du Soleil, Food Network, launched the Miami Chapter of Young Women Social Entrepreneurs and in 2010 received an MBA from Florida International University.
Please tell us a bit more about yourself, your background and how you became interested in world of technology and virtual/augmented reality in particular.
I'm a media disrupter. I've been in television for almost 20 years. I want to live at the intersection of media, technology and impact. My husband and I want to use new & emerging tech to do what we love, have fun while doing it and do some good while we're at it.
I've always been interested in the future of media. I was part of the first rush of premium content on Youtube as the channel head of one of the million dollar channels.
I moved into immersive because when I experienced VR content and Oculus social rooms for the first time, I was transported into the future. I knew that would be the way people would engage and consume content in the near future. Similar to what happened to radio, music, and every other technological disruption throughout history, content consumption has and will continue to be disrupted by immersive tech. When we transported ourselves in horses, we never could imagine a car or a plane. When we communicated via a big box called a phone, we never imagined walking around with our own phone in our pockets. And even when we had phones in our pockets, we could never imagine having a whole tv in our phone in our pocket. Imagine what will be in the next 5-10 years. You can't imagine it because we're just building it. I want to build those experiences. I want to continue being at the forefront of change and inspire more people to join the mission.
What is the idea behind Two Goats and how did you come up with it?
My husband started Two Goats in the UK 4 years ago serving brands, then he moved the company to the US. I was a VP at Viacom and worked in a really cool department where we integrated tech into the programming of various channels. My boss was great and gave me a semi long leash. We were doing some amazing projects around immersive tech. I left Viacom to join my husband and take our company to the next level. We saw a need in the marketplace and we decided to tackle the problem.
Now we're an immersive creators studio focused on using new and emerging tech to help lifestyle brands and entertainment networks bring their stories to life, help them bring experiences direct to consumers and help them embrace innovation and the future of media.
When did it all start and do you have other members in your team?
It all started four years ago in the UK. Now in the US. Tomorrow around the world. We have a team of 20 working on various projects in the us. We also love working with teams from around the world. We have partnerships in Europe, South America, Canada and looking to expand to other regions. It's great to understand how others see and experience the world and then reflect that in your work. We embrace globalization to the max.
How long did it take you to be where you are now?
A long time. We're still working hard to continue growing and creating and having fun. I would say since I was a little girl dreaming about the future.
What was the biggest obstacle?
The biggest obstacle has always been myself. When I realized this, I began working on me and everything changed for good. I think this is something every person experiences in life when they realize the only obstacle is me. Once you let go of fear, heal trauma and let go of the story in your head, the struggle becomes less about others having control over you (you stop blaming) and becomes more about you. This is empowerment.
And there's always money. Money is always an obstacle. But even then, there's always a way. And when you get out of your own way, you find the money and the will makes it happen.
What are your biggest achievements to date?
Learning to embrace failure.
Learning to let go of fear.
Learning to accept.
Feeling like I can successfully run a company, when I used to believe I sucked and was the world's worst entrepreneur.
What are the challenges of being an entrepreneur in the niche you are in? How about being a female founder / entrepreneur?
Oh boy. I can go on forever on this one. Every day is a challenge. In our world, we are so at the forefront that sometimes we do more teaching and educating than actually creating and bringing in clients that pay. There are waves that we go through at times but we have to always figure out a way to do what we love and get paid for it. I guess like any business, it's about hard work, perseverance, being honest and never letting go of your core values. And also be tough and stay focused, you have to pay your employees and keep the lights on. So we work hard and turn challenges into opportunities.
As a female entrepreneur I feel empowered by my qualities. I used to think the way I was kept getting in the way of my success. Then I realized i can't change, this is who I am, so I embraced who I am and I realized it makes me good at what I do when I stop trying to be someone else other than me. There was a time I was super insecure about the way I was... I was going through the transformation stage... Seeing myself in the mirror for the first time and learning to love me. That's when I stumbled and fell until I found me. I like the person I am and I aim to be the best version of me.
Why is the #womenintech movement important to you?
I believe tech will rule the world, next to marketing. As a little girl I never thought of tech as anything other than what the guys did. I was encouraged to be a journalist or an attorney because of my personality. That encouragement made me feel validated and empowered. I know that technology has and will continue to impact every part of life, so I want to inspire little girls to think of technology as another option they have. We will live in a better world when more women are educated and know and understand the power of technology.
What is the most important piece of advice you can give to all of the female founders and entrepreneurs out there?
Don't be afraid of failure. If anything, failure becomes your stepping stone to success. Fears get in the way of our purpose. Let go of fears and you will find your purpose. Also, be kind and be grateful.
What will be the key trends in the VR/AR tech industry in the next 5 years and where do you see it heading?
Wearable tech led by women. More storytelling. More content creation.
Better tools for accessing these technologies. Data will be everything. Metadata will rule the world.
AI will be in everyone's home. Alexa will be smarter and will have more competition. Smart homes will be smarter.
Entertainment, sports, gaming and education will lead the way of these technologies. There will be winners and some experimenters, but overall smart tech will rule the next century.
Who are your 3 inspirational women in wearable tech?
All the women from Women of Wearables inspire me to be added to the list in the near future.
This interview was conducted by Amanda McIntyre-Chavis, Women of Wearables Ambassador in New York, USA. She is the CEO and Founder of LegendFactory, a interactive brand management company and two new tech initiatives: Muzaik, a social media aggregator and Myndfull, a wearable tech company. She is also an active mentor, arts advocate and supporter of various social causes. Based in New York, Amanda is a member of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, Inc. (NARAS), the National Association of Black Female Executives in Music & Entertainment (NABFEME), National Association of Professional Women (NAPW), the ELLEVATE Network and Women In Music. Follow her on Twitter @AmandaMcChavis.