Inc. 5000 Marketplace

Immersive Online Experience


We worked with Inc. to bring to life the Marketplace, a virtual experience that brings back the serendipity of meeting new people, running into old friends and sharing ideas and insights at in-person conferences. The Marketplace is the first-of-its-kind, no headset required, virtual experience specially themed for the Inc. 5000 Vision Conference.


Zoom burnout is real, but we all still crave social connection and celebration so we conceptualized a world for their honorees centered around fun, exploration and socializing.

We integrated Inc. 5000’s history of honoring the fastest-growing private companies with the most proven track records in America by designing the world around a fictitious Main street, the heart of the Marketplace. Here, honorees from all over the country converged to walk the red carpet, celebrate their awards and socialize at the virtual bar, art gallery and recreation center.


The Marketplace combines the beauty of the real world — catching a wink or walking down the street with a friend chatting — with the power of the virtual world — new, magical places where people from all over can immediately be present and explore. We achieve this by trusting our eye for playful design, integrating game technologies and game design principles and building the world with the latest technology.

Honorees, dressed in their best bow ties and sparkly tops, poured glasses of bubbly at home and then joined in the fun with their live-streaming avatars. They bumped into old friends on Main street, popped into the local art gallery to add photos to a mosaic, and wandered into the local bar to chat with fellow honorees and play trivia quizzes together. Finally, honorees stopped by the Inc. 5000 theater to clink glasses and celebrate each other’s accomplishments and their selection to the list with a group photo. The challenge was to successfully create a virtual version of attending an event, where chance meetings and side conversations make the night that much more fun and interesting.

First, we designed for ease of use, building the experience around a readily available tool for the honorees — their laptop or home computer. With access to WiFi and navigation via simple keyboard arrow keys, everyone could easily enter the Marketplace, mingle and explore.


Second, we designed for immersion, replicating as many sensations in our design as we could. We achieved this with rich, detailed 3D visuals, layered ambient sound and music throughout, and oriented people using first-person perspective. Together these elements created a sense of familiarity and encouraged exploration.


Third, we designed for serendipity, creating a space for chance meetings and interactions between honorees. To do this, we built the world with proximity audio technology, so that anytime an avatar slides close to another person on-screen, their audio activates and a conversation can kick off. To encourage discovery together, people played fun, interactive games and challenges.


The average attendee entered 22 virtual spaces in the Marketplace and collected at least three items of virtual swag.

As seen in


Creative Direction
Game Design
Art Direction
UX Design

Web Development
Game Development
Multi-user Networking