Rick Martin is the co-founder of Equal Reality, an establishment that focuses on virtual reality classroom experiences. He also co-founded Decaf which aims to achieve a centralized marketing economy in Latin America. He currently lives in Cuernavaca, Mexico, but has been living around the world for the past ten years.
The Entrepreneur’s Upbringing
Born and raised in Wollongong, Australia, Rick had a “fortunate sort of stable upbringing.” He had many friends to spend time with and his family was supportive of his endeavors. On the weekends, Rick would go to church with his family. His fondest childhood memory was when he and his family would visit Crescent Head, a summer surf coastal town. As he spends his time around the world with his business, he is also attached to other areas in the world in addition to his hometown.
When he was an exchange student at UC San Diego, Rick made valuable friendships living in the international house which exposed him to many cultures, languages, perspectives, and ideas that influence him until this day. He met one of his best friends there and they traveled to London, Australia, and Europe together. In his internship in Malaysia, he had the chance to dive into the local politics, culture, people, and food.
With his financial experience at JH Darbie and Co. in New York and Bloomberg in London, he acquired an economical point of view that benefited his knowledge in marketing, trading, and international commerce. He believes his international experiences give him a new perspective on business in addition to life. “That initial exposure at the International House at UCSD for me really gave me a hunger to explore different places, new ideas, and see opportunities in different ways.”
About Equal Reality
Rick describes Equal Reality, which is based in Sydney, Australia, as an opportunity to be “someone else and see situations that are based on real-life lived experiences.” Currently, one of the company’s major projects is for nurses at Mayo Clinic to experience virtual training in diversity, inclusion, and perspective-taking.
Equal Reality was inspired by co-founder Brennan Hatton who introduced Rick to a mixed reality game, where three people could play in one experience but different versions of mixed reality. He thought the virtual reality experience was mind-blowing and especially valuable when it gives someone a chance to go through “a fire drill for high-stakes social interaction.”
Virtual reality courses by Equal Reality were first implemented in the Navy and Air Force and have since been adopted by various companies such as Google, Amazon, and Viacom CBS. Each company Rick collaborates with has a different culture and work style. He encourages “co-design” with organizations he works with so the experience provided to companies is relevant, effective, and engaging.
Rick started Decentralized Cafe (Decaf for short) when he was in lockdown while living in Colombia, inspired by Equal Reality’s internationality. He almost lost interest in the idea because gas fees seem to be the determining factor behind all transactions, despite the potential of technology as a finance tool. Through his brother, Rick met Juan, another co-founder of Decaf.
Through his research with the blockchain Solana and his co-founder Fernando, Rick learned about the crypto blockchain and cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and NFTs. Currently, Decaf is being introduced to the Libyan government for potentially adopting Solana payment. This alternative payment plan is inclusive of a wide range of businesses. It can also help people save money through each of their banking transactions and hold their money in a safer space.
Rick believes bootstrapping for his company Equal Equality and developing an emerging marketing technology with it was one of his most difficult times due to self-doubt. “To bootstrap it has been really strategic and we slowly but surely built a really strong technology, but at times, you sort of always question yourself.” Investment funding was also challenging because the business needed to survive on customer funding exclusively. However, at the end of the day, Rick believes it’s the best thing he and his team have ever done despite the doubts they had.
Rick thinks the hustle culture is overhyped and wished he knew he didn’t have to run very fast all the time. As a Forbes 30 Under 30 entrepreneur, Rick believes that though speed is important, it’s okay to slow down. To that end, Rick believes slowing down allows for more clarity when making decisions, which he learned from a friend. “Every incremental good decision you make, you are actually building value for the company.”
New Company Resources
Rick is open to incorporating any services that are beneficial to the company’s developmental stage. He believes that “Resources is the ability to be able to change and be open to making quick decisions and the right decisions to have the best resource available to you at the time you need them.” For Decaf, he is currently working on upgrading Solana’s technology and incorporating Lightning bitcoin on the Lightning network that has been used in El Salvador that has been battle-tested more than other platforms.
Advice for Young Entrepreneurs
Rick firmly believes an entrepreneur’s ability to execute is necessary because it is directly related to the team’s ability to perform tasks. He reminds us that it is essential to ask oneself “Why you? What is it about you that you have over someone else starting a business that would mean you should be doing that or solving that problem?” Being problem-focused is also a great quality to have that can lead entrepreneurs a long way.