Many of us are still processing 2020. As a company, COVID-19 made us re-evaluate what we are and what we want to become. Throughout the year we had the opportunity to work with many clients that were going through a very similar process.
For us and many of them, the object of the game was not only to survive during the pandemic recession, but to overcome it and emerge stronger in the end. We believe that it was precisely because we shared this same spirit towards this weird global crisis that we somehow managed to have the best year in Maniak up to date. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. So, let us tell you the Enchant story and how their experience in 2020 sets an example for us and any tech company in the world.
There are two reasons for this. The first reason is because it shows the true power of entrepreneurial resilience (fun fact: that was the word of the year chosen by our CEO). The second reason, and one that we live by every day, is that technology has a solution for every challenge. Call us naive, but there’s no one problem that well researched, user-centered and expert-crafted technology can’t solve.
This Canadian-based company does a great job defining itself: “Enchant is an experience company”. That means that their goal is to create rich, immersive, and unexpected journeys for their guests in as magical a season as Christmas is. They bring together cutting-edge technology, innovative design, and thoughtful storytelling to manufacture light installations that really are magical. Their pioneering and adventurous nature has led them to create, for example, the World’s Largest Christmas Light Maze. Check out this video, it’s amazing.
Since its founding in 2016, Enchant has continually made strides toward greatness; curating and tailoring every aspect of the guest experience into something magical. During these years, Enchant has been rapidly growing and expanding its business into the US with installations in major commercial projects and MLB stadiums across the country. The future in early 2020 seemed promising to Enchant, with major contracts and projects all over North America, but as you know, COVID happened.
With face-to-face interaction out of the question and a whole lot of uncertainty, Enchant was at a crossroads. To hold and wait to see what would happen with the world, or to pivot their business into digital experiences. For a company that has tasted success and is still hungry for more, the decision was somewhat easy. For a tech-based company, the decision was a piece of cake.
With all projects canceled, Enchant decided to explore their capabilities and expand their notion of immersive experiences into the digital realm. With innovation and experimentation as premises, they started planning a way to still provide a safe and socially-distant Enchant Christmas experience. The idea matured and became Enchant Shop (an e-commerce platform that connects local vendors) and Enchant Santa Calls (an app to be someone’s Santa). Their adventurous and innovative spirit pushed them to create something that no one had ever done or tried.
The thing is that all these innovations didn’t happen quickly enough. Six months before Christmas, Enchant Shop and Enchant Santa Calls were just an idea. (Here is where we take our hats off to the Enchant talent.) With a tight deadline and no previous experience in developing these types of products, Enchant went out for partners and set up a Dream Team. A mix of expert companies in their respecting fields to work on their vision (We were the App guys!)
There is a lot of magic in Christmas and it makes sense that some magic was to happen during this venture. With a hard launch in December, the Enchant team designed a production lifecycle of 24 hours with teams all over the world: from Tokyo to Mexico, all the way to Vancouver. At a certain point, the teams were spread out over nine different time zones. With an agile methodology on steroids, they pushed their teams to deliver two complex digital experiences that are now live and will be for years to come.
The one we worked on, Enchant Santa Calls, is pretty dope. For those of you who did not have the opportunity to download it from the AppStore, here’s a brief description:
Imagine having the opportunity to make a call in real-time as Santa with your loved ones; with the possibility of selecting the setting, background effects, the type of Santa you want to be, and seeing the smile and emotion on the child's face upon receiving a call from "Santa". And this Santa is not just a skin or a filter, it is a Santa that was beautifully designed and rendered in partnership with people that have worked for AAA video game companies and film studios, with facial tracking supported and extraordinary fluidity.
Enchant Santa Calls is huge. Besides the amazing character design, it has a lot of stuff in it: features such as voice modifier, in-app purchases, recording videos, and social media sharing; just to mention some of them. Indeed a great great scope.
That was a big dream. And as you can see, dreaming big is only the first step. To achieve success, people and companies that have the resilience to not fall apart in the face of adversity are needed. They know how to accept their strengths, but also recognize their limitations and thereby recognize the talent of others.
The future is bright for Enchant as old normality comes back to us. The hope for an old classic Christmas with hugs and hot cocoa with the family in 2021 is there. Also, the possibility of seeing those amazing mazes and light installations by Enchant once again, but now improved by their digital presence.