The following is a conversation between Vince McMullin, Founder and CEO of GenXP, and Denver Frederick, the Host of The Business of Giving.

Vince McMullin, Founder and CEO of GenXP

Denver: This past year, nonprofit organizations had to cancel countless galas, walks and other activities that are so central to their financial well-being. The silver lining from this, if there is one, is that nonprofits are discovering the benefits of turning towards virtual event technology, even going so far as relying on the gaming industry to make this possible. And here to discuss that with us and what the future might hold is Vince McMullin, the founder and CEO of virtual events platform, GenXP

Welcome to The Business of Giving, Vince!

Vince: Thanks Denver. Thanks for having me. 

GenXP is a virtual events platform. We’re developing a fully interactive and immersive 3D experience that allows us to scale and allows us to be able to reach anybody that wants to participate in a virtual event as quickly and as globally as possible.

Denver: Tell us about GenXP and the range of services that the company provides. 

Vince: For sure. So GenXP, as you mentioned, is a virtual events platform. We’re developing a fully interactive and immersive 3D experience that allows us to scale and allows us to be able to reach anybody that wants to participate in a virtual event as quickly and as globally as possible.

Denver: I would imagine you get asked this question a lot, certainly in the demos that you do, and that would be this: What is the difference between virtual reality and augmented reality? 

Vince: So the difference between virtual reality and augmented reality– so these are part of the AR, XR, VR, essentially, where you enter into a space, and you are basically either a representation of yourself in that space. 

So, essentially, with virtual reality, you would be a representation of yourself in that space, either as a camera ship or as a 3D avatar. But in augmented reality, basically, what we do is we take a physical space, and we superimpose that virtual 3D representation of yourself or some other objects in that real space. So for example, we’ve all seen the videos in the past where you have a 3D cube on a desk, but the 3D cube is actually not there on the desk. But when you look on your phone or your headset, you can actually see that cube on a desk. 

Denver: I got you. So I guess in virtual, I am fully in the digital world; in augmented, I’m sort of in my own world but things are being placed in that world

Vince: Right. So, virtual reality is really just an adaptation to what we’ve been doing on computer screens for the last 20-, 25 years. With 3D gaming, for example, we’ve just taken all of that, and we’ve put it inside of a headset and put it over you, so now, it’s fully immersive when you’re in that virtual reality space. 

Denver: So, if I’m in that virtual reality space, Vince, how does that differ from what we’re all used to now? And that would be at a meeting on Zoom or attending some webinar. What’s the distinction? 

Vince: Well, when you’re in that space, it’s fully immersive. And so, we want to deliver an interactive and immersive 3D experience. So, so far, our events haven’t been in virtual reality. So we haven’t required you to wear that virtual reality headset just yet for events, so you can participate in any of our events. So if you’re on a traditional computer screen, you can come into that, and you can participate in that event. But in the future, we are looking at AR, XR, VR as a potential way to continue to improve that immersion for the users.

Denver: Is that going to be cost-prohibitive? I would imagine they’re probably coming down.

Vince: It is. Even to this day, a high-quality virtual reality headset is quite expensive. We are right now looking at ways to actually make our events as inclusive as possible. So, one of the things that we’re doing with GenXP is actually pixel-streaming the event. And so, by pixel streaming the event, all you need is essentially a screen and a broadband connection. So, you don’t need to have that expensive hardware. You don’t need to have a headset. You don’t need to have any of that at the bare minimum to be able to participate in that event. And so, that allows us to be able to open it up to pretty much anybody. 

And so, when we’re talking about a nonprofit, for example, you really want to maximize your participation in the charity, and you don’t want to make hardware prohibitive to the users being able to actually enter into that space and participate in that virtual event. So, at the lower end, pixel streaming is a really fantastic way for us to be able to open up and allow for people to participate with it that may not have that hardware. 

However, in the fully immersive environment, of course, we want to have that experience to be as rich as possible and have very high graphics fidelity. And so, one of the things that we are doing, we’re using the Unreal Engine engine by Epic Games, which allows us to be able to have that high-fidelity graphics. And that allows us to be able to create that very engaging, interactive, and immersive 3D experience, and still also support quite a number of devices, thanks to the great work that Epic Games has done with their technology. 

Denver:  I spoke to a lot of CEOs about their board meetings. And they said one of the things they learned early on is: Do not take your existing board meeting and put it online in a virtual world. It will not work.

So, applying that to virtual events– and particularly, galas– what advice would you have for a nonprofit organization who doesn’t want to do their traditional in-person gala online, but needs to shape it and form it in such a way that it will be effective in the virtual world?

Vince: So, first of all, I’ve been to many board meetings. So many, many, many years ago, I was actually on the board of a public company. So, I’ve experienced that. I understand that very, very well. So, my opinion of this is: Don’t try to replicate your full physical event virtually. 

When we talk about a virtual event or hybrid event, we believe that there are things in the virtual that are more engaging, that you can’t do in a physical event, and so thinking about these things in terms of gamification of the event. So for example, one of the events that we’re going to be hosting soon for St. Jude with the Rare Drop organization is going to have what they’re calling a “dead ghost hunt.” And essentially, the users will have to go and collect these nine ghosts. 

It’s a very interactive and engaging thing, and one of our sponsors is actually the original creator of the idea. So it’s essentially a scavenger hunt. Users that manage to collect those ghosts then unlock a special surprise in the event. So, it’s something that you can do to really engage with the users and make it an interactive experience that you may not necessarily be able to do with a physical event. 

Another aspect of this that we find very interesting is now we have the ability to be able to change what’s happening in the event based upon behaviors of the users within the event at real time. So for example, if users are standing around a specific space or a booth or a poster or an engagement activity, and we’re finding that users are engaging more in that activity, we can adjust behind the scenes the next planned thing that’s going to happen in that event, and users may not necessarily even know that that adjustment happened. And we can do this at real time. So we can make those changes. 

For example, very simply, we can change what images or graphics are playing on posters and billboards. So if we find that users are looking at a certain kind of poster more, marketing behind the scenes can change those images and graphics so the users can continue to stay engaged in things that they’re interested in.

I kind of describe what you said – gala. I sort of think about going to a gala and looking at really cool paintings and stuff like that. So let’s say there’s a collection of paintings or artwork. It’s actually one of the things that we actually have in the Rare Drop event, and that we will be doing. We have a collection of artists that are going to be selling their art pieces at the virtual event for St. Jude, and all those proceeds are going to be going to the St. Jude charity. 

The artists’ collection – we will know when users are looking at a certain artwork piece, for example. So they’re standing around and more users are going to that particular piece of artwork. That can be coordinated with the owner of that piece, and they can come along, and they can upload a new piece once that one is sold. And we can continue to keep doing that during the entire event. So if there’s high engagement and pickup with a particular artist, we can really kind of zero in and focus on them at real time. That’s something that’s a lot harder to do with the physical space, given physical limitations, but virtually, it is a possibility. 

Denver: That is really fascinating. Continue on that vein, though. It sounds to me with these virtual events, there is a lot of data that you can collect. You can collect it both in terms of real time and changing the nature of what’s going to happen in the next 15 minutes. But is there other kinds of data that you can get out of these virtual events that might help inform what the organization should do with these participants or these potential donors in the future? 

Vince: Absolutely. There’s a lot of behavioral data that we can actually collect from users. We can also collect demographic data regionally where those users are actually located, where they’re logging in from. And that information can be used to further reach users later on after the event. 

We know that we have hotspots in Europe, in South America, but we were not getting much pickup or engagement in North America, then marketing knows that they need to really kind of focus on why we’re not getting as much interest out of the North American user base. There’s a lot of analytics that we can provide the organization after the event that will tell them how to organize and do things better the next time.

And we talked earlier about engagement, for example, with posters and billboards and that kind of thing, but what about user engagement? So users that are trying to engage with a particular kind of speaker or guest that’s at the event… what we found was, with our last event, there were specific kinds of speakers that were speaking at the event that afterwards, they were there in their 3D avatar, and they were actually communicating with everybody after their talk played. And we found certain kinds of speakers got a lot more pickup and interest at that event. 

Same thing goes for commercial, as well as non-commercial events. So users that are interested, if you’re– for example, let’s say you’re going to an event. So we all know about NFT. Everybody’s been telling us NFT is going to be a thing going forward. If you had a guest speaker that was speaking about the technologies powering NFTs, a blockchain developer, for example, we know that there would be a lot of interest in an NFT event. But maybe it’s actually the artists that are speaking at the event that gets all of the interest. And so maybe the focus on talking about blockchain isn’t as exciting for people. We can do those kinds of things much faster. 

The other thing is giveaways. So, with most charitable events, we’d like the giveaway things like tokens or some kind of thing to remember us by when we’re not at the event. We can actually do digital tokens as well. So, we can actually give you digital tokens that you can store in your user account and show proof that you’re at that event, and maybe even donated or supported that event. And that can be associated with your user account. So when another client comes to us and wants to reach out to our users, we can identify who those super users are within our community, and we can actually connect them, with permission, to that event and allow them to engage with those users if we think the material is relevant to that user. 

For years, I’ve been saying – What if we were to take some of these really cool ideas and combine them with some really good causes to raise money? And I think raising money for climate awareness. Raising money for second- and third world country issues is a real reality for us using this kind of technology. And that’s why we’re trying to make it as inclusive as possible, so people can reach the event from anywhere on the globe as long as they have an internet connection. 

Denver: Listening to you, Vince, I think about my own behavior. And if I’m at a physical event and somebody is speaking, very often, I’ll stay there out of being polite. I don’t want to walk out. But I do know my behavior sitting here at home, and it’s pretty authentic. I just go somewhere else. So you don’t get fooled in terms of people who just have good manners, as I would say.

Talk a little bit more about St. Jude because what they’re doing is just so cutting-edge, and I know that you’re powering the gaming community expo with them to help them raise funds. So any more details on that? But also, Vince, what would nonprofit organizations be well-advised to know about the gaming community and those expos?

Vince: So first of all, the gaming community as a whole is very passionate about this cause. GuardianCon, and now GCX, is a fantastic effort by Rare Drop to support St. Jude. And we’ve been humbled, to be perfectly honest, Denver. Just the sheer amount of energy and excitement within the community and within the Rare Drop organization to support St. Jude has been incredible. We’ve been really excited to work with them on developing this event.

So, let me tell you a little bit about the event itself. So I’ll share this with you. I’m sure you’ve seen some of the marketing and sponsorship work that they’ve been doing. So it’s actually on a starship. So the event takes place on a starship. Again, something that not necessarily we can do in a physical event yet. 

Denver: No, not necessarily. Not yet.

Vince: But we do think SpaceX is actually working on that.

Denver: I’m sure.

Vince: So on board that starship, you’re in the awe of everything. So we’ve got some planets that you can look at. There’s a holodeck essentially, and you can see out in the space. You can walk around and talk to the other users. It’s really a cool holodeck-type experience. And it’s quite a large space. 

So one of the things I didn’t mention earlier about our technology that differentiates us from some of our other competitors is we’re able to actually do very high CCU accounts. So essentially, concurrent users. That’s a technology that I invested in developing over the last two-and-a-half years that luckily, I was able to use for this effort. Highly scalable and fully fault-tolerant technology. And it truly enables us to be able to bring large groups of people together to have great experiences. 

So at the Rare Drop event, we’re going to be bringing this large group of people together, and it’s all about raising money for St. Jude. So we have this great thermometer, the Tiltify thermometer that’s at the center of the experience, and it’s just increasing and climbing. And as more excitement happens, we have these goals that are met. And as those goals are met, amazing things start happening in the world. And then you, as a user, get to experience that. 

So, particles fall from the sky. Lightning strikes the ground. Everybody goes zero gravity. All of these kinds of experiences that happen to the avatars, to me, is something that the gaming community will love those experiences because, of course, they’ve been experiencing these kinds of things since the beginning of 3D games. And now, we can take that and use it to do something a fair bit different. We can take that, and we can incorporate that gamification concept into something like a charity for sick children. And I think it’s absolutely incredible. 

For years, I’ve been saying – What if we were to take some of these really cool ideas and combine them with some really good causes to raise money? And I think raising money for climate awareness. Raising money for second- and third world country issues is a real reality for us using this kind of technology. And that’s why we’re trying to make it as inclusive as possible, so people can reach the event from anywhere on the globe as long as they have an internet connection. 

Denver: The gaming community is incredibly generous, and it’s also, I think, a slightly different demographic than a lot of nonprofits are used to. So it really is expanding your portfolio in a lot of ways. 

You know, Vince, I always thought that talking about the feedback loop that you were just discussing there as you hit these thresholds, it’s one of the reasons, at least in my mind, that “text giving” never was as successful as it could have been. And one of the reasons for that was that I was doing it completely by myself. There was no community; I was just doing it. I was putting in a code. I was giving 15 bucks. But nobody else knew about it, not that I needed that — but there wasn’t any sense that we’re all in this together. And often, when you feel your donation is part of something much larger, it just leads you to want to give additional donations and feel special about it. 

Vince: Exactly. And we realized that, Denver. When we were developing our technology, we realized that this was a real possibility. So we actually developed this onstage technology that allows us to green screen you in. So, Denver, if you wanted to come to our event and speak, we could bring you in on your camera, just like we’re doing here on Zoom, and we can put your real, real physical body in the event, standing on the stage, talking to the 3D avatars. And we can even do that…let’s take it a step further. We can actually have you at a physical event speaking to real people at the same time. So you can kind of see how we could really maximize and reach a large audience. 

So all of a sudden the event that– we’re really limited by square footage in a physical event. Right? So if you have 10,000 square feet, well, you can fit only so many people in 10,000 square feet. But imagine how many people you could fit in this kind of environment, this virtual environment. Really it’s how many you can reach.

And for a charity, that’s really important. And imagine if you had 30,000 people coming to my charitable event, but then I had 500,000 people participating online. And participating not just passively watching a video like you described, being able to get up and just walk away from the event because you’re behind the camera. You just turn your camera off, and you’d go somewhere else for a little while. But imagine being fully engaged and immersed in that 3D experience with other people at the same time. And you will stay there because all of a sudden that social experience. We are social animals. 

Denver: That’s right. Now more than ever after this past year. 

Vince: Absolutely. And now, we can actually do this in a way that doesn’t feel like the text giveaway. I agree 100%. It’s an interesting initiative but it’s really just all you sitting there with your phone in your hand, looking at some text on a screen. This is a completely different level.

In a hybrid model, all of a sudden, I have the ability to be able to participate in those events from the comfort of my computer desk – when I want to. And so, I can confidently run my business, and I can confidently meet with the network that I need to meet with. And my time doesn’t need to necessarily be spent going to every single event. If there is a hybrid technology that puts me in the seat, if I’m 2,000 miles away from a meeting and I can be put in the seat with two people that are meeting physically at the same time, that’s where I want to be. 

Denver: Let me ask you about the coming hybrid model–and this could be for nonprofits or just the other businesses that you do–because look, everything has been done virtually. We are slowly but surely coming back. But everybody I talk to is saying: How do we bring these two worlds together? How do I bring my virtual world with the in-person experience? What is this hybrid going to look like? What thoughts do you have on that, Vince? 

Vince: The hybrid model to me is the future. Let me give you an example. So I spent a lot of time traveling to trade shows over quite a number of years – 20 years’ experience going to trade shows every year. Sometimes a dozen or more a year. That’s a lot of time being spent flying around, going to all of these trade shows and meeting a lot of the same people that I have already met. And there’s two or three trade shows I love to go to, and I will always attend them because I like going to them, and I like meeting the people that are there. But a lot of the others, I really don’t have a need or really didn’t need to go to. 

Denver: Yes. And one other thing, Vince, too – they really suck the energy out of you, don’t they? There’s something about those fluorescent lights where you’re pretty energized the first day and by day three, it’s like you can get a spatula to just scrape you up.

Vince: Well, the gaming circuit – they’re back-to-back, there’s often two a month, and they start in the early spring, and they don’t stop until the fall. And I can remember the back-to-back shows, just by the end of it, like you said, you’re just done. You don’t have the energy level to continue to keep doing the things that you’re doing. 

However, in a hybrid model, all of a sudden, I have the ability to be able to participate in those events from the comfort of my computer desk – when I want to. And so, I can confidently run my business, and I can confidently meet with the network that I need to meet with. And my time doesn’t need to necessarily be spent going to every single event. If there is a hybrid technology that puts me in the seat, if I’m 2,000 miles away from a meeting, and I can be put in the seat with two people that are meeting physically at the same time, that’s where I want to be. That’s my 10-year goal here, is to build this technology so we can pull this off, and we can make this future-proof. 

So, in the case of the next world disaster or the next pandemic, or whatever happens on this planet, we don’t necessarily have to bring things to a screeching halt because something has happened in the world that’s affected the global population. We can continue to keep doing what we’re doing. We can continue to keep doing business, and we can meet regionally. 

Like this is the other thing. A lot of the events that I’ve attended over the years have grown to want to be global. They’ve grown. They bring large numbers of people to what used to be fairly culturally-rich smaller events. I’m thinking, for example, South by Southwest is one that I can think of where it’s grown to really be more of a national or even an international event. But all of that rich cultural aspect to it seems to be a little bit lost now. There’s just so much global change that’s happening to some of these great, smaller events. 

I think they can go back to that. And I think they can be much richer and much more culturally relevant to their people locally, but also allow people to be able to participate globally. But now, we don’t need to fly them in. We can bring them in and make them part of the thing virtually during the physical event. And I think that’s where we need to be. I think everything benefits across the scale if we’re able to do that. 

Denver: We’ve been talking about events, whether the commercial events, or South by Southwest, or St. Jude, or galas in particular. But I’d like to get your thoughts on immersive technologies in the nonprofit sector as it relates to people seeing the actual work an organization is doing, whether it be somebody getting clean water in Sub-Saharan Africa. What are your thoughts about that?  How that can be leveraged to really move people to solicit donations and support? 

Vince:  I love your example, by the way, because I actually worked with the United Nations program years ago developing a virtual water program that was put on a disc and was sent to second- and third world countries to train people how to clean their drinking water and keep it sanitary. So I really understand this. This is probably about 15 years ago now that we did that project. But here we are 15 years later, and now we have all this technology. And so that effort back then could be done in an hour today. We can do something like that with our GenXP platform and release it within a week. That to me is really the technology differences that allow us to be able to do those things so much faster. 

And so, getting at these sort of behind-the-scenes things that need to happen here. I’m thinking a little bit about like backstage access to the information, to the exhibitors and the vendors and the folks that are looking to reach people, and allowing them to be able to change that information. So, we’ve developed a technology that basically allows us to manage all of this via a web portal. And that technology, we provide access to our clients, and they can actually make changes on the fly to the information that’s being sent out to wherever it’s going.

For example, let’s say we were to actually do that virtual water program, and we were able to educate people on sanitation again. There is going to be feedback and questions happening in real time now because now we’re not sending it out on a disc to people… and we don’t know what’s happening. They’re going to actually give us feedback. They’re going to be online. They’re going to be talking to us in real time. And we can actually update the information in real time in our system to answer the kinds of questions that may be coming in. And we could do a large number of people. We don’t have to do 10 or 15 people at a time. We could do 15,000 or 150,000 people at one time. That’s really kind of the backend part of what we’ve built as a GenXP platform. That’s what we’ve done that is enabling us to do that. 

Denver: Well, there are a lot of possibilities out there to leverage the cause, which are probably not being done by many, many, many nonprofit organizations, although I do think there’s been a level of awareness that has risen because of this. 

So let me close with this, Vince, and that is: If you are a nonprofit organization and you’re sort of on the outside, looking in, as it relates to virtual events and immersive technologies and gaming and all the rest of it, what should they be doing right now as a plan for 2022?

Vince: Absolutely. They need to be thinking about how their events could be transformed into a hybrid or a 3D model. So essentially, what we like to do is we like to sit down, and we like to ask a few important questions. Would you like a custom world? Do you want a standard world where it’s standard trade showroom or it’s a standard room? Do you want a space station? Do you want something that’s absolutely phenomenal that is going to really attract a new user group? Or do you want to satisfy an existing user group? 

They need to be thinking about how we can gamify. And gamification is really important because it keeps people interactive and keeps people engaged. It can be as simple as giving a token away every time somebody makes a donation or purchases that art piece at the gala, whatever. Somehow, gamifying or tokenizing that information will allow those users online to be able to talk about that thing after the event. It gives them something to reference. It gives them something that shows proof that they actually made that donation or made that purchase. 

Those are the things I think we need to be thinking about in the future when it comes to 2022 for hybrid events.

Denver: And I love that point you make about engagement. Even on TikTok, you have to slide to get another thing to move whereas Netflix, it just feeds you, and you binge-watch one after the other. But there is that simple act of sliding every 30 seconds with your thumb that keeps people involved and keeps people engaged. 

Vince: Absolutely. And we didn’t mention this, but one of the things that we do have with our platform, we have a lot of emotes and dance emotes. It’s funny you should mention TikTok. Some people have said that we’re building the 3D version of TikTok in some ways. We allow users to be able to dance and emote – 14 dances and more than a dozen different emotes. We have thumbs up and do a little heart, that kind of thing, high five – all those kinds of things that we do as people in person all the time. So we’ve added that ability for you to do that with your 3D avatar, and we’ve seen users using it naturally, which has been very exciting. 

And those kinds of things we are working on for you as you plan your event. We have this technology that we’re developing as a core part of our platform. All we want you to be thinking about is: How can you take what you’ve done physically in the past and turn that into a 3D representation? And honestly, working with developers that have worked in the games industry such as ourselves and working with us because we’ve been doing this for a very long time… we can help you get there as well.

So a little consultation, I think, is also extremely important, Denver, when it comes to thinking about moving to a virtual or a hybrid solution.

People will realize how much fun they can have. And that is what this is really all about at the end of the day. We want these things to be engaging, but fun. Fun is a really important factor when it comes to this.

Denver: And the last thing I’ll say about that, too, it sounds as if interactivity is as well. Keep them moving. Keep them engaged. Don’t have them sit there passively, or you have lost them. And I think sometimes people are afraid they’re going too far, but people will be pretty goofy about this. They’ll get up, and they’ll start going crazy. 

Vince: Well, people will realize how much fun they can have. And that is what this is really all about at the end of the day. We want these things to be engaging, but fun. Fun is a really important factor when it comes to this. 

Denver: No question about it. Well, for listeners who want to learn more about GenXP, tell us about your website and maybe some of the information that they’ll find there.

Vince: Sure. You can find out about us at If you want to reach out and contact us, we do have a contact link on our website. So just go ahead and fill in your information, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Denver: Fantastic. Well, thanks, Vince, for being here today. It was a real pleasure to have you on the show. 

Vince: Thank you, Denver. It was great speaking with you.

Listen to more The Business of Giving episodes for free here. Subscribe to our podcast channel on Spotify to get notified of new episodes. You can also follow us on TwitterInstagram, and on Facebook.

Share This: