The AR Revolution is Here, and It’s the Future We Imagined at Modsy!

A breakdown of one of AR’s most practical use cases today, furniture shopping

 

 

At Modsy we could not be more excited about roll out of Augmented Reality (AR) through ARKit on iOS devices and ARCore on Android devices.  This is just the start of the full unlock of visualization as a part of home design and furniture shopping, something we have long believed will transform the way we all shop for our homes.  AR as a feature will be as fundamental to the next generation of mobile applications as geolocation was to early mobile apps.  There will be very few products that do not in some way take advantage of this feature, overlaying valuable data and visuals positioned through the camera as if they were in the real world.  Furniture shopping and home design are one of the best examples of this new capability and we’re bound to see a lot of action in this space in the coming months!

With all the enthusiasm around the launch of AR we thought it would be helpful to share our analysis of the first generation of AR and where it will be best applied as well as the limitations as it relates to shopping for the home.  

 

What we love about AR for home design & furniture shopping:

1. Shopping validation for single item or small vignettes: The top use case for AR in home furnishings will be to consider how single items and small vignettes look within a room.  It will be very helpful when you have an empty part of your room and you’re considering 1-3 items.  You will likely want to do a good amount of the searching and saving of items before moving into AR mode so you can make the best use of the time when you are standing and looking through the app (both battery life and your own patience may limit how much search and discovery you choose to do in the actual AR mode).  However once you have a variety of items you’d like to consider, moving to the AR view will give you an amazing way to get a sense of the size, look and feel of the item in your actual space.

2. 3D Presence: Both ARKit (iOS) and ARCore (Android) will give us a sense that the objects we are seeing through our screen are really in the room with us.  This is the biggest unlock of this generation of AR on mobile, it is the first time almost every consumer’s phone will have the ability to sense the planes in a room and therefore accurately place and scale items.  You can walk up to and around the objects just like they exist in the real world and even the lighting effects help to simulate the feeling that they are part of your current environment.  While the graphics will not be perfect (they will still have a bit of a game/cartoon feel) they will often be close enough to give you a sense of the shape and scale of an item you are considering.

3. Quick, easy, and on every smart phone: The reason this moment in time is so critical is that AR is will now be a regular feature available on (just about) every consumer’s phone.  For iPhones it will be 6s and later and for Android it will be initially on Pixel and Samsung’s S8.  This means that we are no longer limited to special devices or hardware for a realistic 3D viewing experience in our phone, with the click of a button anyone can move into an AR viewing experience.

 

The limitations of AR for home design and furniture shopping:

1. Best in empty rooms: If you have an empty room or an empty spot/wall AR will be perfect, however for anyone trying to swap out new furniture with existing items it will be a bit more challenging.  If you’re considering a new sofa in place of your current sofa you may have trouble positioning the 3D sofa on top of an existing item in the scene.  You’ll need to either move your sofa or deal with a slightly awkward experience.  The same will go for considering items that need to be positioned in or tightly around existing items, for example rugs or dining room chairs.  The current generation of AR does not know how to detect and work around existing items in the scene in a nuanced way, but rather thinks you would want to place the item on top of the item in the scene.

2. Difficult to use for full room or multi-item designs: While AR is great at detecting planes when you’re working within a limited area of a room it quickly becomes less accurate as you move through and attempt to place multiple items within a full room.  A combination of virtual items intersecting with real items, breaking the illusion, and drifting that can interfere with the accurate placement of larger objects will make it difficult to design a large multi-item room.  The more items you add and the more complex your scene becomes, the harder it will be to keep everything accurate and in place.  It’s going to be best used for considering 1-3 items at a time.

3. Not the right solution for optimizing layouts: This is probably not the feature you want to use if you’re still experimenting with the layout for your room.  It will be difficult to get a complete sense of all the items in the room from AR mode and you may not have a good sense for how close things are to one another without moving around and tweaking.  To experiment you will likely want to use a top down view and experiment from this perspective where you can easily move items around and determine the optimal layout and distance between objects.  Once you have a vision for your room, viewing specific items through AR in the place you are considering will be a great way to validate that you do in fact like the layout and having this item in this location.

4. Recommended Design or DIY Discovery: A key part of using AR effectively will be to use it when you are certain about the products you want to visualize.  If you are struggling to think about what to put in a room or how to pull it all together AR is not going to help.  It is a DIY experience and you’ll need to find the items you like and know exactly where you want to see them.  As we’ve seen at Modsy this is not always where a consumer will begin their journey.  Oftentimes people are feeling overwhelmed and intimidated trying to figure out what items will look good together, how they should be placed in the room, and how to accessorize and bring it all together.  This is not something AR will solve. Once you have a design concept, layout, and a list of the specific products you are considering, this will be the moment to use an AR feature to view these items for a final visual confirmation that this is the perfect piece for your room.

 

We believe that AR shopping experiences will help to transform the way we shop for our homes. It is not a perfect solution in and of itself just yet however.  Between drifting, battery life, plane detection and graphic quality, this first generation of AR will be used for very focused and specific use cases.  As the technology advances the adoption will advance as well, but will likely need to live alongside a larger home shopping and design experience.  The ideal app will include concept planning, inspiration, a complete cross-retailer catalog, tremendously simple UI, amazing search and filter capabilities, and strong recommendations based on your style, budget and room type.  This killer experience will forever transform the way we design our homes and AR will be a key feature enabling this transformation.

A major milestone and the starting line!

 

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A major milestone and the starting line!

In February 2015 we set out with an ambitious dream, and today we are thrilled to announce that Modsy has officially emerged from beta to transform the way consumers shop for and design their homes.  

We have worked tirelessly, constantly testing with customers, pushing the limits on the product capabilities, expanding our incredible team, and continuously looking for ways to improve. And this release is just the beginning. We have several amazing things in the pipeline and cannot wait to continue this momentum.

Modsy is the solution we’ve all been searching for when it comes to designing our homes. It is not enough to put furniture online or make interior design more affordable – it’s time for a true technology-based transformation!

At each step we’ve seen a little glimmer of the magic that Modsy can create. We’ve seen the “wow” on someone’s face when she realizes that the image she sees is not a photograph. We’ve heard pure joy from a customer discovering a product he absolutely loves. And most importantly, we’ve seen customer after customer transform their homes into something they truly love.

Modsy is technology meets design at its very best!

  • First and foremost, we are building a product that works for a real person. No specialized hardware, software, or goggles required.
  • We are building a product that empowers you to lead the design of your own home.
  • We are building a product that relies on technology to do the heavy lifting. Reconstructing 3D room models, curating and suggesting products, creating optimal layouts, and more.
  • We are building a product that brings in the human touch where the impact is greatest. Providing creative inspiration and assisting in your design process only as necessary and as requested.

To reach this significant milestone it has taken the tremendous dedication of everyone here on the Modsy team and the support of our friends, family, investors, advisors, and customers. A product launch is more than just a moment in time – it is the culmination of countless hours and the determination to bring the impossible to life. Today we are taking a moment to celebrate and thank everyone who has been involved. And to recognize that we have accomplished so much, yet our journey has only just begun!


Modsy Founder Shanna Tellerman talks Startup Mindset, VCs and Sofas on Spirit of 608 Podcast

If you’re interested in – or in the process of – starting a business, get your note-taking tools ready and take a listen to our very own Founder and CEO, Shanna Tellerman in conversation with Lorraine Sanders on the Spirit of 608 podcast. There are some surprising gold nuggets of truth and insight here you don’t want to miss.

A unique, circular path to Modsy

Modsy isn’t Shanna’s first rodeo. In fact, it’s the result of a 360 degree adventure she’s taken from the company she started right out of college (Sim Ops Studios), to working on the corporate side (at Autodesk, which bought Sim Ops), to learning what goes on in the mind of venture capitalists (as an investor at Google Ventures), to starting another company, Modsy, with a wholly new perspective.

It’s about mindset

Shanna attributes the willingness and confidence to take on the challenges of starting a company partly to personality type and an unflinching optimism and partly to growing up in a family that took career risks. It was the norm for her to watch her parents work through hard business problems, and it instilled a confidence and resilience that has proven great asset.

“It’s really about continuously putting one foot in front of the other that makes a successful company. That’s hard to know if you’re diving into it for the first time. You’re probably second guessing yourself wondering ‘Is it supposed to be this hard?'”

Lessons from the VC side of the table

Stepping out of her comfort zone to work as an investor at Google Ventures gave Shanna some incredibly important insights into the funding game, and she’s eager to share what she’s learned:

VC funding is not right for every company. In fact, it doesn’t make sense for most companies. There’s a tiny bucket of companies, with a very specific profile, that will benefit from venture backing (Is your pencil ready? Listen to the podcast for the profile specifics).

Clear, concise communication is key. Even if your company fits the profile, you have to have everything pitch-perfect to become even a glimmer in the eye of a VC investor. Is the market opportunity timely? Is it over saturated or so new no one’s heard of it? Do you have a prototype or proof point to help the investor understand what you’re doing and how it will work?

Your team is as important as your product. Why you? Why this team? What’s your special sauce?

Make sure you’re up for the pain. Though the media makes the venture-backed startup world seem sexy and fun, the founders and teams building those companies are often under tremendous pressure, including outsized expectations for both speed and scale. While raising capital is often a tremendous area of stress and focus for any new business, Shanna strongly recommends that companies truly evaluate whether their business can, and should, stand that pressure. The alternative – not raising capital – and instead funding your business through customer revenue and a more steady rate of growth may not be such a bad thing.

Learn the art of negotiation. Shanna’s Lesson #1: “If you can understand the driver of the person that you’re negotiating against, what’s important to them, there’s often times a deal that is common ground, that makes everybody happy, that you can reach fairly quickly.”

Getting to Modsy

While her instincts, background and work experience taught Shanna to recognize good ideas and make them happen, it was an event in her personal life that presented the opportunity. Actually, it wasn’t an event, it was a sofa.

“I’ve never cried over anything I’ve ever bought in my life except for furniture. And I have now, multiple times, sat on the floor crying because things really didn’t work!”

While pondering why in the world she would be crying over a sofa, she zeroed in on the idea for her next company. People are emotional about our their homes. It’s is supposed to be a place that feels beautiful and comforting, not frustrating and stressful, and she knew her miserable experience was not uncommon. “I wanted to take a lot of the pain out of the way, and visualization – seeing – is one of the best steps toward that,” Shanna says.

As she barely put a toe in the water of talking about her idea, she was routinely interrupted by people desperate to share their home design nightmares and she thought, “there is something HUGE under the surface and people are very frustrated and they are looking for outlets to talk about it and looking for a solution to solve it.'”

Flash forward to today, and Modsy – a company that gives consumers confidence to purchase home decor by first seeing it within the context of their own homes – is a fact. All the roads Shanna has taken, all the inspirational people she’s met, successes and failures she’s had and skills she’s learned have led her to this point. She says, “This is the company that I was always supposed to start.”


Take a listen. Shanna and Lorraine’s conversation is fun and inspiring. You’ll understand that while what we’re doing at Modsy is a team effort, Shanna’s essence and energy is our compass and fuel, and the heart of our company.

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A Milestone & So Much To Celebrate!

Modsy Before & After

OUR START
It’s hard to believe it’s been only eleven short months since the start of Modsy.  Our mission from day one has been improve the way consumers design and shop for their homes by allowing them to see furniture and accessories in the context of their very own homes.  2015 was an exceptional year at Modsy and it’s hard to believe how fast it all came together.  In the blink of an eye we’ve built the company, the team, the product and a fast growing customer base!  We have so much to be thankful for and so many people to thank for contributing to this success.

A MAJOR MILESTONE
Today, we are proud to announce the closing of $8M in Series A funding, led by Norwest Venture Partners.  We feel so incredibly lucky to have arrived at this major milestone for the company and even more so, we feel privileged to have the opportunity to work with the talented team at Norwest.  We truly value having a partner that is so aligned with our vision for the future of Modsy and that has been such a fantastic supporter since day one.

We’ve reached this milestone because of the unwavering support and encouragement of investors, partners, friends and believers of every kind.   It has allowed us to hire the incredibly talented and dedicated team of people and to continue on our mission to bring the vision for Modsy to life.

WHAT COMES NEXT
This financing will help us accelerate the company’s trajectory in several key ways.
Recruiting – we will continue to recruit and hire the most talented graphics engineers, 3D artists and designers from across the industry.
Product – we are laser focused on making the most incredible customer experience possible and transforming the way people shop for the home.
Partners – we will be expanding our partnerships in several key areas include retailer partners, real estate and media/content.

A HUGE THANK YOU
We are so appreciative of the people that have been a part of our journey from the very beginning.  Thank you so much to our amazing investors who include Norwest Venture Partners, Metamorphic Ventures, Birchmere Ventures, Susa Ventures, Ame Cloud Ventures, Google Ventures, BBG Ventures, Astia Angels, Ammunition, and individual angels including Susan Feldman (Co-founder of One Kings Lane), Eoin Harrington (SVP, Restoration Hardware), Heather Reisman (CEO of Indigo), Timur Yumusaklar (CEO of Schumacher), Joanne Wilson, Cindy Padnos, Nancy Pfund, Pascal Levensohn, and several more amazing individuals.

CHECK IT OUT
We invite you to join the Modsy insider community here, we are in a private beta and will continue to invite customers in on a rolling basis.   Here is a fun video preview of Modsy!

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A Year of Innovation is Ending, But It’s Just the Beginning

There is a revolution happening in the industry of home inspiration and decor. New tools and services are turning an old process on its ear, and while it didn’t all start in 2015, it sure seemed to reach a new momentum this year.

While we have been busy at work solving a tremendous obstacle around home visualization, we wanted to share some of the other categories impacting the consumers’ home that we’ve been excited to follow here at Modsy.

DIY Inspiration

Pinterest & Houzz are the go to sources today for home design inspiration online. Some of the newest features to emerge in the inspiration category include visual search, shop-able pins, mark-up tools and algorithmic product matching. This category is an important first part of a consumer’s journey. It aids tremendously in the discovery phase but has often struggled to close the sale given a large volume of hard to identify products buried in user-generated content.

Design Services

Crowd-sourced interior design and online interior design as a service has made a traditionally offline service available to audiences online. This is a fantastic resource for those consumers with large scale projects or in need of a professional service provider for design advice.

Next Gen Furniture Retailers

The consumer in search of a more customizable sofa, the perfect vintage piece or a affordable secondhand item for their home now has more options than ever. There are an assortment of emerging online first furniture retailers providing ever more options and selections to the savvy modern shopper. These new players are wisely tying together the online, mobile and offline shopping experiences for their customers.

The Modsy Opportunity – Seeing It Come To Life

Despite all the innovation in the industry, there is still an important universal pain point that hasn’t been addressed: a way to see design ideas in the context of your own home. This is the need we are addressing at Modsy, and we have made it our mission to solve this massive problem for consumers.

By creating photographic virtual renderings of your room, designed with custom collections you tailor to your taste, we allow you to see how a new design will look in the context of your actual home. No guessing, no questions about dimensions, scale or combinations of pieces. You see your redesigned room virtually. Then you create it in reality.

We can’t wait for 2016 and the continued innovations it will bring to homes everywhere.  We are especially excited about bringing the capabilities of Modsy to a bigger and broader audience. We truly believe that the way you shop and design your home is about to change!!

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