An Annville-Cleona High School graduate is the man behind an up-and-coming virtual reality video company based in Lancaster County.
Sovanna Mam, class of 1992, is the founder and chief executive producer of Greenfish, 117 S.West End Ave., 2nd floor, Lancaster. The company also has an office in Las Vegas.
Greenfish is a full-service digital company specializing in 360 degree virtual reality, according to their website.
Mam had his first virtual reality experience in 2014 while at a technology convention in Washington D.C.
“I had seen people waiting in line for 45 minutes to experience Oculus VR glasses – this was when it was in Beta mode, and very few people knew anything about it,” Mam said. “At the end of the day, I decided to go see what the circus was all about.”
He put on the VR glasses and experienced 360 degree photos produced by an Israeli tech company.
“The stand was called Visit Israel or something like that. You put it on, and you’re standing in this 360 degree world,” Mam said. “There was the Wailing Wall and Jerusalem, and it was in 4k quality, and my mind was blown.”
The experience allows the viewer to look all around them and be immersed into the world the content producer created. This planted a seed in Mam’s head, so he began doing more research into the technology.
“At the time, I felt it was another tool to have in my toolbox as I go out and produce for other clients,” Mam said. “I bought the gear, and my business partner, Ben Duffey, and I started figuring out how to produce 360 degree videos.”
“We made four or five videos of me and Ben just walking around Washington D.C. – we were at the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and other places,” Mam said. “We showed this to clients, and they were just blown away.”
One client, who is now an investor, was more than just a little impressed with what Mam and Duffey were doing with 360 degree virtual reality video.
“He put (the glasses) on and said, ‘This is amazing. Have you guys thought about doing a business with this?’” Mam said.
The pair weren’t sure if they were ready to go into business with the new technology, Mam said. The client told them that he felt virtual reality was the future.
“He said, ‘You have a small window of opportunity to be an early adopter and do something that no one is doing yet,’” Mam said.
The client offered to help them get their business off the ground, and he also brought in a few other like-minded investors.
“We officially opened as Greenfish June 2015,” Mam said. “We’re about 18 months into existence, and we went from three people to a staff of 10 full-time employees and two part-time employees.”
That growth is because the demand for virtual reality content is high, Mam said. Greenfish is currently in undergoing an investment raise and are in discussions with new investors and venture capitalists.
“Because we were one of the first ones into this space, even though we’re based out of Lancaster, we were getting high profile clients coming to the table almost immediately,” Mam said.
Several Greenfish employees are graduates of Lebanon Valley College.
“LVC is like my minor leagues or my farm system,” Mam said. “I taught four semesters there, so I was able to see who the cream of the crop was and poach them to come work for us.”
Mam graduated from Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in communications and journalism. While at Shippensburg he interned at local radio and television stations including WITF, Wink 104 and WHP CBS 21 before getting an internship at Nickelodeon Studios in Florida.
Mam lived in Los Angeles for eight years and moved back to Pennsylvania about 12 years ago, he said.
“I worked at a lot of production companies and ad agencies in the area, and I freelanced a lot,” Mam said. “I directed two seasons worth of ‘Forensic Files’ on truTV, and I helped co-create a show that’s on the air right now on Investigation Discovery, ‘The Coroner.’”
Mam said he still has a lot of ties to Lebanon County.
“My parents own a shop, The Union Beer House – actually my brother owns that shop,” he said. “I have a very small stake in it, and when I say small stake I mean I do their Facebook, and get free beers here and there.”
As for the future of virtual reality, Mam feels that, with Facebook buying Oculus for $2.5 billion, smartphones beginning to adopt virtual reality technologies and the recent introduction of Facebook Spaces, a virtual reality space where users can create virtual avatars and interact with other people around the world, the technology will only continue to grow.
“All of that is scalable to the point it can be driven on a smart phone,” Mam said. “That is what is driving VR, and that is why it isn’t going away anytime soon.”
Greenfish is a disruptive multimedia company that produces interactive content and platforms that increase customer engagement. By combining advanced technical expertise with the art of storytelling, we create immersive media that enriches the way fans, followers and friends can experience brands they love. To talk with us about your vision for a VR project email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 267-600- FISH.