There’s no way around it, Jasper Mullarney said: Augmented reality is the future — and it’s going to impact the way users of everything from iPhones to laptops engage with technology.
“We see a shift from the dominant screen being in your hands to on your face,” Mullarney, co-founder of the visualization technology startup, said of the company’s outlook on the future — influenced by industry leaders like Apple, which has predicted such devices could collectively be condensed into wearable options like smart glasses.
For the Kansas City-based startup — which creates scalable, customizable, and engaging customer experiences using 3D and augmented reality — being on the early-side of such an advancement means massive market opportunities and a rarity in the startup world: time to perfect its product.
Click here for a deeper dive into how Epigraph works or to connect with its trio of founders which also includes Bruno Guerreiro and Caleb Dermyer.
“I’ve seen brands get caught flat-footed. In 2009, 2010, very few companies knew what to do with user-generated content … now there’s influencers. There’s a whole ecosystem around user-generated content and the brands have figured out that this is the new reality they need to work in,” he said in anticipation and explanation of the perceived shift, but to also serve as a reminder — there’s never truly such a thing as a leg up in the rapidly evolving world of technology.
“It’s not just about wearables — AR is valuable now — but if we’re expecting smart glasses to be the standard within a decade, the winners in that world need to start future proofing their catalogs immediately.”
A recent $500,000 investment by the Fountain Innovation Fund is expected to help the startup further its mission, Mullarney added.
“That was tremendously validating,” he said of the company’s status as the fund’s third investment, made official in October 2020.
Click here to read more about the Fountain Innovation Fund, a community-wide effort powered by the Enterprise Center in Johnson County and supported by a Federal Department of Commerce grant and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
Mullarney and Epigraph hope to double down on their product building and marketing efforts in 2021, as the demand for augmented reality enabled products rises — especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have been able to provide about a 500 percent lift in sales [for customers] by providing an augmented reality experience,” he said, using a furniture store that shuttered its showroom as an example of the type of company that has benefited from digitizing its retail experience.
To date, Epigraph has worked with companies such as Skil, Yamaha, Restoration Hardware, and Blu Dot furniture, Mullarney added, citing their appreciation of the value the startup can provide them as they adapt to a new retail environment.
“We caught a tailwind from the pandemic because doing things like photo shoots became far more difficult. We did some targeted marketing campaigns around this challenge that brought customers our way – we expect that virtual photography will become a permanent fixture for those companies even post-pandemic,” he explained, outlining the company’s ability to create high resolution product photos using CGI.
“We gained a ton of traction due to the uncertainties related to COVID-19, we feel very fortunate to be able to scale despite the difficult year it’s been, it’s given us a unique chance to provide value, creating a growth trajectory that we expect to sustain through the pandemic and beyond.”