We had the good fortune of connecting with Lisa Wong and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lisa, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
PopBase’s wants to make education about health and wellness, fun and accessible to kids through a combination of storytelling and game interaction; think of it like an interactive, immersive Sesame Street on your phone. Our technology allows us to run animated, interactive content that can engage through stories, and also respond to real world events, instantly. The problem isn’t that the information doesn’t exist, it’s that we treat learning information as chore. It’s better to spark curiosity than preach. Being aware of healthy choices should just be a part of life, rather than a set of chores that you do because “they’re good for you.” L.A. is a very fitness oriented part of the world – but for most people – myself included – the goal isn’t “I’m going to run three marathons a year and banish cheese from my diet!” It’s – I’m going to take a 20 minute walk every day and make sure that I’m keeping a reasonable cheese to vegetable ratio.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m an English Lit major who started my career as an artist for video games and am now CEO of my own company, PopBase. I love storytelling, technology, and art. So I am really excited what we’re delivering with PopBase’s Woodland Fables (Fall 2021!) because it combines everything I love. I’ve always been a generalist rather than a specialist, and that distinction has driven my career; I’m solid in writing, tech, and art, but there are so many people that kick my ass in each. So I really love working with the specialists. My skills are about being able to carve and navigate a path that leverages the talents and strengths of different specialties so that we’re building something we can all be proud of. I don’t think I’m a typical CEO – I know there are people who always wanted to lead – or hated having a boss. But for me, it’s about wanting to build something that solves a problem – using technology, art, and stories. To do that, you need to create a workflow that empowers creatives (artists and writers) to use the best technology, without having to be tech people. When starting PopBase with my cofounders, I had the easiest time balancing the tech, art, and financial goals so that we could do what we wanted to do. It really is a group effort. I’m really proud of the team I’ve built – we’re a fun loving group with serious chops in tech and art, and if we do our jobs, kids are just going to have fun learning in the immersive world we built (and maybe get kids to be more proactive about taking care of themselves and their friends)
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Ok so let’s pretend we’re in a post-Covid timeline… I’m a museum hound, so the Getty Malibu and the main Getty are mandatory. It’s beautiful and somehow never feels crowded. Getty Malibu always feels like you’re visiting friends with money – who recently pillaged Greece and Rome. Then we’d go to Tsujita on Sawtelle for ramen, and Coffee Tomo for coffee. Take a walk in Venice- Abbot Kinney as well as the canals. Go to the promenade in Santa Monica for the beach. Take a beach walk. As my friends are generally video gamers – comment on how accurate Grand Theft Auto was about a lot of the environments! Head to the valley. The WB Tour is really fun, as are the shops and second hand stores on Magnolia- that I really hope survived. Pick up some pastries at Portos and try not to eat all of them. If it’s Halloween or Christmas, wander neighborhoods in Burbank for some epic decorations. Head to Pasadena for a day at the Huntington Gardens and book high tea there. Take lots of pictures. Consider taking up gardening. Go downtown, head to the Last Bookstore, take the required, Instagrammable picture of yourself in the book arch. Try to get into the Broad if you can. Wander around Japantown for fun souvenirs and Japanese groceries. Go to Koreatown and find a spa. Buy a bunch of masks and other fun beauty stuff. Go get Korean BBQ. If it’s summertime, go full tourist in Hollywood. Pick one of the cheesy museums. There’s one where the wax figures look like they’re vaguely related to someone famous. This is better than the figures that actually resemble famous people (Sorry Madame Tussaud) Why take a picture with fake Keanu Reeves, when you can take a picture with Keanu Reeves drunk cousin twice removed?! Then catch a concert at the Hollywood Bowl.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Well, first off, my husband and cofounder, Amit Tishler. Start-up is HARD and isolating. Having someone who is as 110% invested in the same goals is amazing- and after all this time of working and playing together, he’s still my favorite person to hang out with. I also have a fantastic, inspiring group of female friends – artists, engineers, and researchers, who continually inspire and motivate me. Before starting my company, I spent more than 25 years in AAA video game development- started off as an artist and ended up in R&D. My time at LucasArts and Sony Playstation R&D ended up being the most influential and important time in my career when it came to building lifelong friendships. And…shoutout to the old Kerner sculpting group! I joined after work sculpting group when I lived in the Bay Area, and that was such a great group of kind, super talented, creative people from videogames, VFX, and fine art. I don’t know how active it still is now, but it was so key for me in finding my “tribe”.
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