Augmenting the mARket with Lenslist | GoSpooky

We’d like to invite you officially to our new blog format called ‘Augmenting the mARket with Lenslist’ where together with leading brands and agencies, we dive deep into the digital trends, stories, and advice straight from the Augmented Reality industry. 👾🔍 We’re always excited to launch a new format, but we’re even more thrilled when our first guests are extremely unique. ✨ Founded in high school, GoSpooky agency has grown from a vision to a worldwide known AR agency, which transforms social content and exceeds the digital norms. 🚀 Today, you’ll get a chance to hear their story straight from the founder, Tim van der Wiel, and follow GoSpooky’s steps that led to such a huge success. 📈 Let’s start! 🔥

Augmenting the mARket with Lenslist


First and foremost, I am very curious to know how you decided to start the agency? How did you decide to found the GoSpooky and basically how all of it evolved? Tell us, please tell me first of all how all of it started.

So the whole story started six years ago. Before, I was working in the music industry, at a record label, and I was responsible for all newer social platforms there. So setting up Instagram, Snapchat, Twitch, and the Chinese platforms. And there I saw the huge untapped potential of big brands, Fortune 500 brands on social media. So I started GoSpooky together with my co-founder Liam, and we just started as the first Snapchat-only agency in Europe. Therefore also the name GoSpooky. That was because we saw that as the future of how people wanted to use social media. Augmented Reality, mobile-first, made for the mobile screen, like privacy first, so all those things. And we started with Snapchat, expanded from there and now we have over 100 people, our mission is really to keep leading brands at the forefront of social. We’re opening our New York office in a couple of months.

What is the best way pitch an AR project to a client? Especially the one that still does not have any experience with AR?

I think the best way to sell AR is to try it yourself. So really experience it yourself at the same time, also show how people are using it and the number of people that are using it. I think that’s really interesting to look into. So having that personal first experience where they are understanding what it is, how it’s different from creating a video, for example, and at the same time understanding how other people are using it. So for example, 250,000,000 people on Snapchat use it every day. Like, why is that? So how did you use them? How is it different from, for example, TikTok or Instagram? It’s really important to understand because I think the best way to understand AR is to try it for yourself and maybe even build a small experience yourself, but go do the research.

Could you share with us your most exciting project or collaboration? You probably have lots and lots of different clients you had throughout all of those years, but maybe some of them were very special to you.

Yeah, I think I have a couple. We did a collaboration together with Snap and Jeep in Canada where we basically used Machine Learning to turn every Jeep that you see in the streets, turn it into a dealership. So every Jeep model has a unique grill that turns basically the grill of every Jeep into a barcode using machine learning. And then you could customize your new Jeep. You could get information about the current model that you’re seeing and would even tell you how far you’re away from a dealership.

So it had technology in it. It really solved something, in my opinion. And I think it’s also for the future of AR. I really see, like, physical objects. Like, a car could also be a product from a brand. I think that with a physical product, it’s really difficult right now to make a digital connection to a physical product. I think technologies like that, in the future, will become, I believe physical products or objects will really become a gateway to the digital world, whether that’s like a game or an app or an experience or just tell you something about the product. But it becomes contextual. You can launch digital experiences, contextual to what you’re seeing in the physical world. I think that’s super powerful.
Snap has like their Snap ML product within Lens Studio. And how we see it, basically, we think you can really create magic with it because you can train the camera and train the camera to see things it couldn’t do before, so really turn it into a smart camera. But also, I think the most recent, most popular filters on Snapchat, like the Crying Filter, the one with the tongue, I think everybody knows them, those are all based on Machine Learning models. So I think it has a big future, rather. It’s not too easy to really go deep into Machine Learning because it’s super technical. But I see a lot more. There are so many possibilities.

I also saw the case that you had with Tiffany and Co. And it was also an incredible journey because it was for the university, if I’m not mistaken, and it was connected with the exhibition and the Saatchi Gallery. Could you tell a little bit more about this one?

So it was the 150th anniversary of Tiffany and Co. And what we did was that we created a custom landmarker on the Saatchi Gallery in London. And basically, when you scanned when you were in front of the building, we made this whole 3D mash of the building, made this custom scan of the building. And with you as a user in front of the building, you could take out your Snapchat Camera pointed at the building, and then the whole building would be covered in diamonds. And this was even before Snap launched the new ray tracing feature. So we created our own custom diamond shaders to make the diamonds even more. It was really a cool project, and it’s pretty new as well. The custom landmarker features aren’t that fairly new.

How should a Creator, an AR Creator, search or acquire clients?

I think at first, in the beginning, I think it’s really important to create, like, your own space within a market or a community. So specialization, I think, is a real one that also works very well for us. We started only with Snapchat and expanded from there. Looking back, it was a really good strategy. So I would say, okay, people should ask themselves, what are you really good at? Is there knowledge that you have or interest that you have where you have a lot of knowledge about a particular topic or something that interests you a lot? Focus on that. Try to create your own space. And if you have that space and you have that specialization, try to create as much content as you can. So, like, TikTok, Instagram, LinkedIn website, whatever works for you. If it’s writing, filming, or creating experimental lenses, it doesn’t matter what, try to create as much content as possible and then distribute it across all those platforms. And I think if you specialize in whatever floats your boat, then people will find you.

Would you say how hard it is to start your own business? And what are the basic do’s and don’ts for it?

So is it hard to start? No, I think you can start out of the bed. And you don’t have to put your full day into something. If you’re like in your evening hours working, like on custom lenses, in your free time, why not use your brand, right? So I think – start small. You don’t have to go all in at first. We started the same thing. It wasn’t a full-time job in the beginning, we were doing it this time besides school, but could also do a job. Find the time to do that. Start small, don’t have a full business plan because you will find opportunities along the route. And if you’re like a huge business plan, you will also just see things and maybe you’re too focused on something that’s like, in the end it’s not going to be like that, so just start. I think the beginning is just the most important part. And I think all the information is on the internet. There’s never been a better time to have a great ID. So all the info is on the internet. Like clients that can find you online.
There’s never been a time when you can just post a video online, for example, on TikTok or another platform and just millions of people see it. All the technology basically is on your computer or your phone. So yeah, there’s never been a better place, never been a better time to start something new.

And do you have any advice for creators who want to work with clients and especially like big luxury clients? What should I do to gain a cool client?

That’s a great question. I think it really depends on your skill set and what you’re trying. So, for example, big luxury clients, it’s a lot about the experience. It’s about the experience of design. If you want to land a client like that, I would really try to focus on those kinds of experiences. Like, for example, I think 3D, having a product as realistic, almost as like a piece of art, having those skills is super important. Creating bigger experiences around fashion brands, for example, which look high end, which have a real high quality, high quality standard. When it comes to the looks of it, I was really focused on the skills that needed to do that in general, finding clients again, specialization. So finding a way in doing something that they only can do with you or that you can really be the best in the whole world on your own, but also when you’re a company. We’re still trying it because we’re with almost 100 people and we’re still deciding, hey, we’re going to focus on this and we want to be the best in the world in it because we know we can do everything.
I think the same goes if you’re a single creator. Skill set. So investing in looking at what’s the doing, what are those brands doing, looking what skill sets needed to do that and can you take it to the next level? And second one, specialization.


First of all, we’d like to thank Tim for such an eye-opening and inspiring interview! Hearing GoSpooky’s story can truly motivate future entrepreneurs that want to shine in the AR world. ⭐️ Once again, it’s shown how important it is to focus on collaboration and the bonds we create with people. 💪 We hope that Tim’s advice will fill you with positive energy! 🔥 Stay tuned for our future guests. 🎉