We had the good fortune of connecting with Dylan Lovinger and TimM O’Connor and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dylan and Tim, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
(Dylan) TimM and I have always wanted to start a business together, but this one wasn’t planned. The Hyperspace Lighting Company started over two years ago with a single viral video. At that time the HyperCube was nothing more than a personal hobby project, inspired by the art at music festivals and burning man, and an attempt to add another dimension to an infinity mirror. Not to mention just a fun way to tinker with electronics and LED art, turning code into illuminated art. This first video I posted of the HyperCube immediately went viral on Facebook, racking up over 1.7M views in the span of a few weeks (https://www.facebook.com/766560695/videos/10160650382635696). I received hundreds of requests from mesmerized humans around the world who wanted one of their own, which is about when TimM and I realized that there was an opportunity to create something grand and magnificent here. Thus, The Hyperspace Lighting Company was born. Our chance to share the beauty of artistic technology and to make the world a little more luminous. Within a month, we launched the HyperCube Kickstarter campaign. Which was funded by 543 AMAZING and similarly passionate backers. And the rest, is history! Today, we’re producing over 75 HyperCubes per week, and we’ve delivered hundreds of cubes to our initial Kickstarter backers. Growth and expansion next, the stars the limit! (TimM) All of the preparations from classes, industry positions, and side projects were setting the stage. 2018 was the first year I was not able to join Dylan in Black Rock City. I told Dylan that as long as I had to stay in default, my gift to him would be the formation of The Hyperspace Lighting Company while he attended and that is how it went. (I want to take a moment to state that I only mention BRC as this was the true to form shakedown, and that I recognize the glancing of commodities in this mention, but we take De-commodification very respectfully. These are the facts, Our gift to each other is the adventure and the opportunity to fuse art with technology, and if there was enough support, make a lot of people very happy so that they can enjoy an slice of infinity to for themselves! There’s plenty to go around! I’d say we have our selves a Cube-ocracy. These Cubes were brought to you by the people, for the people, on many levels.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
(Dylan) My professional life did not begin as an artist. In fact I have studied my entire life to be a scientist; I received my Ph.D. in Physics from the University of California San Diego only last year, in April 2020, for my work in ultrafast laser spectroscopy. I had always intended to do scientific research and work on developing new technology, and there’s a part of me that still wants this. But I realized that I’m more passionate about my creative endeavors. Working on the HyperCube was a perfect project because it combines everything I love: art, technology, math, and light. It’s certainly a different route to becoming an entrepreneur and an artist. Getting a Ph.D. isn’t easy; the long hours, the guilt at not working even more than you already are, comparing yourself to other academics in the field, the challenges of failed experiments. I felt burnt out for a while. But it did teach me how to approach, analyze, and solve complex problems on my own. While I haven’t used my expertise in photonics or spectroscopy to develop my business, the research and analytics skills I built have helped make this business succeed. I always say it taught me how to teach myself, and with that, I can do anything. Moreso, my education and experience has elevated my art. The light patterns coded into the HyperCube are all driven by math. Pulses of light that bounce back and forth are made by continuously repeating sine and cosine functions, and sound reactive features involve analyzing different frequencies of music, detecting peaks in the melody, and converting this into light. My background in math and science has given me an intuitive understanding of numbers, and helps me creatively code a vision into luminous reality. Both TimM and I have a deep love for science and technology, and it’s reflected in our work. Our mission is “to build a more luminous world through the fusion of technology, art, function and form.” To merge art and technology in new and mesmerizing ways. To show the world that math, technology, and science are not these sterile and boring things, but can actually be uniquely beautiful. (TimM ) Preparation and opportunity: Synchronicity Strikes. For my undergraduate, at Bowling Green State University, I majored in physics, but I picked up a minor in business/entrepreneurship for just such an occasion. I changed coarse to nanoengineering for my PhD to get more applied, while attending many radical art and music festivals and participated in a number of entrepreneurial and pitch competitions hosted by the university. It is important that engineers know the not only the laws that govern material and energetic interactions, but also know the organizational structures through which value and economies are created. I highly recommend prospective engineers to get some business experience through classes, programs, and groups. It is a critical perspective whether you are working at a corporation, or starting your own venture! There is a lot at stake, and it gets touch, but when lighting strikes we roll those dice! Lastly, the team is essential, and the start-up phase can get very stressful, but I am honored to bring the HyperCube to this dimension with Dylan. We’ve faced many challenges and we have learned so much. It is an infinity stellar journey, and this is just the beginning for HyperSpace, and future companies!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
(Dylan) There’s so much to do and see in San Diego! Exploring Balboa Park is a good place to start, with the botanical gardens and the zoo. I’m a big fan of the museums, especially the science museum. Lunch at one of the many local taco spots, Lucha Libre or Tacos el Gordo. Catch a sunset at sunset cliffs or Torrey Pines. Go kayaking at La Jolla coves, explore the caves, and visit the Scripps aquarium. Grab a drink at Raised by Wolves and see a show at the Observatory. Stop by some of the art galleries in La Jolla, or check out Wonderspaces if it’s in town. (TimM) Blacks Beach is so scenic and a great run! Tacos El Gordo, Flavors of East Africa, Phil’s BBQ, Blue Water Go to a drum circle in OB Hike Cowles mountain at night You’ll find me dancing at the same spots as Dylan 7 Grand for drinks
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
(Dylan) Absolutely! First of all, our entire business was launched and made possible through crowdfunding on Kickstarter. 543 backers from around the world helped fund the design and production of our first product line, the HyperCube. We could not have done it without the support and trust of our first backers, and we are incredibly grateful for the opportunity they gave us. This shoutout is for all of you! I’d also like to mention the business mentors we’ve had who pointed us in the right direction time after time, especially Kevin Liang. Of course, my parents deserve a lot of credit too, for fostering my creativity and curiosity. I became a scientist and an artist in part because of their endless encouragement to explore, take things apart, create, and ask questions. Thank you Mom and Dad! (TimM) To the HyperCube Kickstarter backers!! We are forever grateful that you put your confidence in us, and we put our heart and souls into this endeavor to make good on our promise! Also, shout out to the the people who mentored me along the journey along the entrepreneurial path. Darren Lipomi – My doctoral advisor. He was starting his lab when I began my PhD and brought me on board. He has the entrepreneurial spirit in him, and ran his lab like a startup. His research in the fields of stretchable electronics for biomedical applications and mechanical properties of organic photovoltaics is groundbreaking! And my Master’s advisor, Mikhail Zamkov (Hey Misha!) I learned all of my fundamentals from him. He leads a laboratory doing brilliant research on quantum dots at BGSU. And a huge thanks to Ralph Hanke, my BGSU new venture creation professor. He had us go through the process of creating and pitching a startup (now at Western Colorado University).