Spac3D-VR is aiming to conquer the 3D tours market in the same way that Tesla dominates electric vehicles.
The startup, now based in Manchester, was founded six years ago by Canadian entrepreneurs Dapo Ajisafe, CTO, and Dami Akinbolue, COO.
Their platform aims to create immersive, contextualised experiences for businesses of all types using digital twins. These 4K-quality 3D virtual tours contain rich embedded augmented reality and traditional media content, which builds a stronger connection between brands and users.
“We want to be what Tesla is to electric – and what Tetley is to tea!” Ajisafe tells TechBlast.
As a Sheffield native, I am about to explain that Yorkshire Tea is the better brew when the genial Ajisafe continues: “The motivation for us generally comes intrinsically – because we love what we’re doing.
“We love that people are interested and excited by it – and we have an opportunity now to be industry leaders and empower and educate people, get them ready for this new internet economy.”
NBA & MBA
Spac3D-VR started out in Toronto, Canada with the intention of improving property viewing for real estate when Ajisafe became impressed by virtual reality when using a Samsung Gear VR. Years later basketball-loving Akinbolue, studying for an MBA at the Alliance Manchester Business School, spotted a gap in the local market.
“Even if companies were using 3D virtual tours, they weren’t using assets to make the experience interactive and engaging,” explains Ajisafe. “Dami said: ‘Let’s start up here in Manchester!’
“Since the pandemic and the greater need for remote, interactive experiences, we’ve switched to an immersive solutions company utilising these digital twins to create immersive experiences.
“We’re trying to bridge the physical and the digital [worlds]; to make the technology accessible for any business and allow them to participate in this new internet paradigm where the currency is 3D.”
Spac3D-VR can incorporate many types of rich media into the virtual versions of, for example, a retail showroom: from video, audio and images to bespoke 3D assets with information tags that contain QR code-enabled AR experiences.
This allows for a variety of immersive solutions, from 3D avatar-guided property tours to a virtual commerce experience where you can purchase real or digital items directly in the 3D tour.
“We are targeting everything from property to commercial businesses – retail particularly – and even hospitals,” says Ajisafe. “Anyone that’s been stuck, confused and disoriented in a hospital knows it’s kind of scary – AR wayfinding is an amazing solution for that.
“The enrichment information actually increases memory retention and encoding for users: so now you’re building a stronger connection between your brand and the consumer, and also solidifying information.”
The platform gives businesses the tools to communicate information in a bespoke way. “They can ask the customer: How do you want to do this? What do you want to see? How do you want to see it?
“If we can bring value to businesses and translate that into dollars, that excites us even more.”
The co-founders are holding down full-time roles at software companies Zappar and Kinaxis respectively while building Spac3D-VR.
While the startup originated in Toronto, any future growth is firmly focused on the North West of England, as evidenced by the duo’s recent pitch to pro-manchester’s Trailblazing Tech conference. “We really like Manchester – it reminds me of Canada, actually, with the hospitality [of the people here],” says Ajisafe.
Ajisafe has a family background in healthcare: his father is a family physician, while his mother is a registered nurse. “I did an undergrad in recreation therapy and a Master’s in public health with a focus on social marketing. I did try to get into med school and, when that didn’t happen, that’s when I pivoted to my first love: technology. I have a creative mindset,” he says.
“My mom likes to play the stock market as well as real estate, dip her toes in a little bit here and there. So I definitely got my entrepreneurial spirit from her! My parents were very encouraging. When I started this business, they provided the seed money to get the 3D camera and to get me started.
“So far, it’s been the greatest learning experience of my life. We’re now looking towards investment and trying to see the kind of partnerships that can be formed there.”