Chris Zaharia

Chris Zaharia

Bachelor of Business (2010)
Bachelor of Science in Information Technology (2010)

Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Zookal

UTS: Young Alumni Award 2014

As a child, Chris Zaharia constructed elaborate worlds in his bedroom, using books, wood, blankets, paper – whatever he could find. He went on to explore the fantasy realms of video games, but longed to engage with them in a more physical way.

Later, his dream of creating fully immersive virtual worlds began to take shape, as his burgeoning programming skills married with increasing access to virtual reality and neuroscience technologies.

Zaharia’s achievements at just 26 years of age are extraordinary. Within a year of graduating he co-founded Zookal, an innovative business model that rents textbooks to Australian university students. Under his guidance as director and Chief Technology Officer, Zookal has built and scaled its technology to service over ten thousand students and generate revenues in excess of one million dollars, attracting significant international investment.

"Starting out, the help we received was vital and I’m glad to be in a position to pass it on."

Through his research in virtual reality and neuroscience technologies for education, Zaharia designed and built a worldfirst simulation enabling users to navigate virtual environments with their mind, mapping thoughts to action to perform activities such as chemistry experiments, city planning and even surgery, offering endless potential.

Perhaps key to Zaharia’s success is his blending of technical skill, creative innovation and strong business acumen, honed during his studies toward the Bachelor of Business Bachelor of Science in Information Technology, from which he graduated in 2010. “I take a view on things from both a technological and commercial viewpoint”, he says, acknowledging that even the most ground-breaking technologies still need to be commercially viable.

He’s sharing that expertise freely to inspire and support other young entrepreneurs, helping out start-up ventures in need of technological and business development guidance. “Starting out at Zookal, the help we received from the local business and technology communities was vital,” says Zaharia, “and I’m glad to be in a position to pass it on.”

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