Linkilaw has picked Sandbox (of Virtually Reality), founded by Alexander Cohen, Matt Pate and Rudy Bonura, as June’s Startup of the Month. Sandbox is a startup on a mission to make new, exciting (and sometimes expensive) tech accessible to all. With their store on London’s trendy Brick Lane, tech-lovers can walk in and discover the coolest items of the future.
- A box or receptacle for holding sand, especially one large enough for children to play in.
- An environment in which software developers or editors can create and test new content, separate from other content in the project (often used attributively)
People want to play and explore. With Sandbox, you can do just that.
From the two distinct definitions of a sandbox, this startup has created an ethos for engaging with tech-lovers – whether they’re typically nerdy or not.
Long gone are the days where emerging tech is solely associated with antisocial geeks tinkering away with their computers in a dimly lit room.
Finally, tech is in. Apart from having the potential for good, it’s become cool and mainstream – although still confusing and inaccessible for many.
As virtual reality headsets and wearable tech become more visible in the media, more and more people are intrigued with this new tech and want to try it out. However, as these pieces cost £100s and are seen and bought online, consumers are faced with questions.
- Is this tech any good?
- Is it what they actually want?
- Can they afford to spend this much?
- Is it worth the cost?
With these massive issues, what could be done?
“Being an entrepreneur is something that can only be described as intrinsic motivation. Alex has always been a bit of an entrepreneur. He started his first business at 9 years old and migrated to London in 2014 with the sole intention of launching a technology startup. We guess all of us have that spirit too!”
The desire to let others share in the fun that comes with playing with tech was the intrinsic motivation that lead to the birth of Sandbox.
“We’ve always been passionately curious about technology and the implications that technological change has on society and life as a whole. Tech has an undeniable power to enrich and improve lives.
That’s why we’re working to engage with consumers and allow them to discover, understand and experiment with truly incredible products without the pressure of sales.”
With a true love of technology and its power to enrich and improve lives, the guys at Sandbox have given the relationship between consumers and technology a new lease of life! By introducing new and incredible products to people in an engaging and experiential manner without the pressure of sales, they’ve created a space for discovery that is akin to nothing that has existed before.
“We’ve just opened a space in Shoreditch that is dedicated to a complete range of emerging technology, everything from virtual reality, smart home, drones and robotics.”
The boys note that there is a massive difficulty in understanding new tech. For the average consumer, it can be overwhelming and hard to decide what works best for them. Essentially, it can seem like a lot of noise more than anything else.
Their retail-as-a-service model helps consumers create intimate relationships with hardware products (such as virtual reality headsets and 3D printers) through experiential play. Hardware brands are able to create their own flagship experience on a subscription model, where their product is showcased in the space for a predetermined time along with events. This allows them to rapidly enter a brick and mortar store that is supportive of discovering new ideas, testing them and providing feedback to their creators.
“Sandbox is geared towards startups operating in the emerging technology space as well as large companies launching new products. We are a pioneer of this new retail model – switching the focus of retail from a distribution or fulfilment point to a customer experiential location.
We want to change the dynamic of the retail environment away from sales to facilitate the way customers want to interact with a product, seek out variety and to purchase at their convenience.”
With a long-term goal of supporting startups with a platform that enables them to get to market faster, connect with early adopters and to test/reiterate product with real consumers, Sandbox is beginning to make some big waves in London’s tech scene.
So what’s next for Sandbox?
“We want to innovate in so many different ways. In the future, we want our space to be used for live comedy in virtual reality, robotic chefs and in-store drones!”
With big dreams, comes a lot of hard work.
Sandbox’s beginnings are humble, and with a lot of graft have managed to open their flagship store whilst being completely self-funded!
“The amount of work and risk that’s involved in setting up and running a 2000 sq ft experiential retail location in London has been incredible. Our biggest hurdle in all of this was securing the new location – the high demand for spaces to rent pushes prices up, and as a self-funded company it was always important for us to work with landlords that buy into our vision. Luckily we found a fantastic location and team down at Truman Brewery and we’re excited for the future!”
So are we, guys 😉
If you want to try the tech, you can find Sandbox at
Shop 7, Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane, London, E1 6QR.
What do you think of this month’s startup?
Do you know a cool startup that we should write about next time?