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Jumping out of commodities, I was super excited about fast growing technologies. You know, commodities is an old business. It’s you’re working within this old wheel. However, you know, I was super excited about creating my own wheel creating something that didn’t exist and really pushing something forward and being passionate about it. So I found a group of Crazy Russian scientists who had convinced me about this new upcoming technology that’s going to change the world for good. And it’s called augmented reality.
Jay Clouse 0:30
The startup investment landscape is changing. and world class companies are being built outside of Silicon Valley. We find them, talk with them and discuss the upside of investing in them.
Welcome to upside.
Eric Hornung 0:57
Hello, hello. Hello and welcome to the upside podcast, the first podcast finding upside outside of Silicon Valley. I’m Eric horn on em accompanied by my co host, Mr. Not going to Coachella himself. Jay Clouse, Jay how’s it going man,
Jay Clouse 1:13
Giving me a nickname so you can instead actually deflect and talk about the cool thing that you’re doing?
Eric Hornung 1:18
That’s exactly why I gave you that name.
Jay Clouse 1:21
Yeah. Well, I wish you well, on your trip to Coachella. What is it a bachelor party?
Eric Hornung 1:25
It’s a bachelor party. Me and you tried to get a media pass to Coachella. They kindly turned us down.
Jay Clouse 1:31
That was the most curt email I’ve ever seen.
Eric Hornung 1:35
This is not for you. Okay. All right.
Jay Clouse 1:39
For the listeners, we had the good fortune of being media partners with CS, as you probably know, in January. And so we thought, hmm, that was cool. What if we proactively tried to be media partners with more events that we wanted to go to? And Eric already planned to go to Coachella had us apply to be media partners for Coachella where we could have done some really great and interesting interviews, I’m sure. And they responded several months later with, I believe it was literally a one line email saying, sorry, No, thanks.
Eric Hornung 2:08
Yeah, it wasn’t long and drawn out and we’re excited about your application next year or anything like that. It was just I don’t think so. Not going to fly here.
Jay Clouse 2:17
Have you gone to music festivals before?
Eric Hornung 2:19
I have been to Spring Awakening in Chicago when I was living in Chicago. Other than that, no real music festivals now hasn’t really been my seen. Have you?
Jay Clouse 2:28
You didn’t go to Lolla when you’re in Chicago?
Eric Hornung 2:29
I did not actually, no.
Jay Clouse 2:31
Wow. I have only been to Bonnaroo. I did go to fashion meets a music festival, which is a failure of a music festival here in Columbus, Ohio. But Bonnaroo was a lot of fun. And I’ve been meaning to go to Coachella. I’ve sold a lot of music festival tickets in my life with the former company textures. But now Bonnaroo was my own experience. And that was intense. I mean, it is hot…
Eric Hornung 2:56
I feel like I think I The reason I haven’t done many music festivals is because I think I’ve always wanted to do the camping experience. Like I think Bonnaroo would be like up my alley. Versus like the Spring Awakening where you woke up in the morning and went to a venue and then left at 11 o’clock at night. And then once you like an after concert or something like that. Yeah, just not really my speed didn’t really feel like a community. It felt like more of a Hey, I’m going to a show. And there’s a lot of shows in a row. But it’s not like I feel you get more of a community vibe at camping events. So we are actually doing an RV at Coachella. So I’m hoping that we get that kind of camping cache
Jay Clouse 3:34
That’d be cool. Yeah, Bonnaroo real music fans because it is not for the faint of heart. I mean, you have to get into a line to get your vehicle into this place. You drive several hours, there’s no coming and going. You are camping for four days and it is hot and it is usually dry. It would actually probably be more miserable if it wasn’t dry. If I had to live in the rain in that farm for four days, that would have been a mess. But I hope you have a lot of fun. And I hope that this year’s Coachella has the return of the Tupac hologram.
Eric Hornung 4:04
Well, here’s the thing. We’re recording this intro before Coachella will probably record the outros after Coachella. So will know by the end of this interview will to have taken a trip through time. And we can tell you that if there was a hologram at Coachella this year.
Jay Clouse 4:18
Wow. Speaking of Tupac tripping through time to be at Coachella in 2012. Our guest today is Janosch Amstutz, the founder of HoloMe Technology. HoloMe creates a life sized High Definition real humans in augmented reality. They’ve created a simple software tool that allows brands and companies to easily put real people into augmented reality in a scalable way. Obviously, I brought up the Tupac hologram, because it feels a little bit like this. This is some some real cutting edge stuff here, Eric.
Eric Hornung 4:49
It is. And I think I already want a Jay hologram just to be walking around my house. Just to really confuse Hank.
Jay Clouse 4:58
You know, as soon as holograms are affordable to the layman, I am going to Jay hologram all over the place.
Eric Hornung 5:05
Jay-lagram. All over the place? Is that really the phrase you want to use.
Jay Clouse 5:08
Yeah, everywhere. A Jay hologram for every household. It’s gonna be my platform.
Eric Hornung 5:13
AAJay and every house. It would make running a campaign a lot easier.
Jay Clouse 5:18
Totally. HoloMe was founded in 2017. They’re based in London. And they’ve raised about a million dollars in funding to this point from the London co investment fund. Should be a new conversation for us here on the podcast. Looking forward to talk to Yannis here in a second. If you guys have thoughts as we go throughout this episode, please tweet at us at upside FM or email us email@example.com. And we’ll get into that interview with young right after this.
But before we do that, let’s bring in RoB McDonald, a partner at Taft, Stettinious, and Hollister to teach us about private placements and fundraising. Taft, Stettinious, and Hollister is a law firm known for assisting entrepreneurs across the Heartland. And as a reminder, the following remarks by tapped attorneys are for informational purposes only and are not legal advice. This information is not intended to create and receipt of it does not constitute an attorney client relationship. No person or organization should act upon this information without first seeking professional counsel. Rob, welcome back to the show. How are things in Cincinnati?
Rob McDonald 6:16
Great, Jay. Thanks again for having me.
Eric Hornung 6:18
One of the topic areas we get the most questions about or there’s the most confusion about has to be regulation in the venture capital and private placement space. What guidelines can you provide early stage founders to ensure they are not violating any securities regulations?
Rob McDonald 6:34
It is really important for early stage founders to do their homework have a basic understanding of securities regulations, exemptions that exists in the exception that the company intends to rely on. Or most early stage companies. The securities regs will provide an easy and cheap framework for them to stay within. But this should not be left to chance founders should read and discuss with their lawyer what exemption they’re going to rely on.
Jay Clouse 6:56
Awesome and if people want to learn more about Taft or yourself where should They go?
Rob McDonald 7:00
The best place to go would be www.Taftlaw.com or my Twitter @rwm.
Jay Clouse 7:13
Jan, welcome to the show.
Janosch Amstutz 7:14
Hi, thanks for hosting me.
Of course, great to have you here. And you’re on our shores. So that’s nice. Look at that in America. Yeah, we like to start on upside with a background of the founder. So can you tell us about the history of Jan?
Sure. So I’m Swiss. However, I grew up in Australia. My parents were big hippies, and Switzerland wasn’t really the place for them to be back in the 80s. And Chernobyl happens that which was the new nuclear power plant disaster in Ukraine, and that affected mostly Europe, they weren’t particularly affected by it. But they found it a good excuse to leave their family and travel as far away as possible. So yeah, we grew up in a forest in Australia, in a small town called Byron Bay, which is, which is well known for its surfing coffee and hippie lifestyle. And my upbringing was very alternative. We had solar power of rain water, and my parents didn’t send me to school shoes until I was seven years old. Till we went on our first field trip. And apparently, going on field trips to the city, you need shoes. So that’s where that’s where I basically started, my life was very different to kind of the norm.
Jay Clouse 8:25
Australia is one of the areas of the planet that I always forget exists. And every time I hear it, I’m like, that is a place I want to go, can you tell me more about what Australia is like?
Janosch Amstutz 8:36
Australia is a really beautiful place. But as you said, sometimes people forget it does exist, because it’s so far removed from the rest of the world. However, the kind of the lifestyle, where I grew up in Australia is kind of comparable to maybe San Francisco, very small scale.
Jay Clouse 8:52
What’s the business community, like? For strange reference? Australia, I think is the fourth or fifth, fifth most listened to country for our podcast, and I have no idea what the startup world in Australia is like, do you have any insight?
Janosch Amstutz 9:07
Well, I mean, I left Australia probably about 12 years ago. But growing up, we’ve we’ve always had this mentality in Australia of innovating and creating new things. Now, for example, the jewel flush toilet came from Australia, from a necessity of water restrictions in the summer, you know, the lawn mower, things like that. So I think Australians have always been very innovative. And they were also relatively laid back. So listening to podcasts all the time is probably a great pass time for them to have.
Eric Hornung 9:36
Do you feel a stronger connection to your Swiss heritage or your Australian upbringing?
Janosch Amstutz 9:42
That’s a question I get a lot, actually. And it’s a really difficult one for me to process. So when I go to Australia, I am treated as kind of the other a bit of a foreigner, I have a bit of a different mentality to the to the general Australians. And that acceptance sometimes isn’t there. And likewise, when I go to Switzerland, my accent isn’t isn’t perfect in Switzerland, so so I get question as to as to where am I really from? So it’s always a difficult one. And I feel that, you know, if I go to cities like New York, or London, or, for example, at the moment, I live in London, and there I feel more accepted, just because as a general kind of multicultural attitude. So yeah, it’s a really difficult one, I’d like to say that I’ve got kind of the best mentality of both worlds, rather than the worst.
Eric Hornung 10:28
How aware, were you growing up that not wearing shoes to school was not normal? Before that field trip?
Janosch Amstutz 10:35
Yeah. So I was kind of living in a bottle, you could call it that, you know, we had a micro farm with chickens and account for milk, some donkeys but we’re mostly annoying, because you know, what, what donkeys are good at is just kind of wailing rather than anything else. So you know, with that kind of mindset as a kid, you know, climbing trees was, you know, was my video games and going to school without shoes was, you know, if my parents didn’t give me shoes, then they didn’t give me shoes. Did you guys not have TV at all. So we did you know, living on solar power. Back in the early 90s, we had 12 volts of power through your normal, I think in the US has hundred and 10. Right. So we had a TV, it was a black and white TV, around about the size of you know, a small novel, a small book. And it took me a few years to find out that the Simpsons were actually yellow, when I went to a friend’s place who had you know, normal power. So that was a really interesting kind of revelation for me.
Jay Clouse 11:34
That’s crazy. So it wasn’t, man, do you think that it was a completely black and white show?
Janosch Amstutz 11:39
Well, you know, once again, black and white was the norm. So you don’t have a TV exists that when you call it TV existed, but you know, we were just used to this, this format, this medium of communication, which for us, you know, it was the cutting edge, right?
Eric Hornung 11:53
What’s a question? no one asks you about your upbringing that they should?
Janosch Amstutz 11:57
That’s a really difficult one, I haven’t actually thought of what someone would ask. I think I think a good question is like, the food. So my upbringing was particularly interesting, because my father would love to give me junk food, because he wanted me to be like any other kid. So I get your fruit roll roll ups and your chocolate and you chocolate ice cream for for dessert. And my mother was a complete opposite. So I, I live this jewel lifestyle of, of cuisine. So my mother would be given the carrot instead of chocolate, and my father would give me chocolate ice cream straight afterwards, so.
Eric Hornung 12:31
which one did you prefer?
Janosch Amstutz 12:33
I preferred both.
Eric Hornung 12:34
Now your mom or your dad? Sorry, the foods.
Janosch Amstutz 12:36
Yeah, I mean, both both cuisine. So it’s always exciting, getting kind of a wide mix of foods. And, you know, even to this day, you know, I would, you know, enjoy it, you know, or right mango, just as much as you know, having having mango ice cream.
Eric Hornung 12:52
So you said 12 years ago, you left Australia, what age were you when you left?
Janosch Amstutz 12:58
So I was 18 when I left to start. So even though my upbringing was, you know, alternative and different and creative. For my parents, it was quite a challenge. Because if you’re living you know, in a in the middle of nowhere in a forest, and the career choices aren’t that broad. So even though we we lived up extremely happy and content, we were relatively poor. And for me, that was that was always on my mind, you know, growing up is, you know, I would prefer to be independent and stand on my own feet as soon as possible, rather than being a burden on my family. So the first chance I got, I moved back to Switzerland to pursue a career in in, you know, what my parents would call the biggest rebellion ever, I pursued a career in physical commodities trading. So I went in to move, move vast amounts of rocks around the world, destroying the environment, you know, creating these, these goods that, you know, my parents would have thought unnecessary.
Eric Hornung 13:59
how did you know you were poor if you lived in a bubble?
Janosch Amstutz 14:02
kind of the comparison to other kids and you know when you when you go and visit your family and we had we had one one day a year where we could go clothes shopping, and we had you know, a set, there was always like a kind of a set budget. And that was, you know, your your clothes for the year and growing up changing sizes would have like three t shirts or whatever. So yeah, you know, obviously the awareness was there the the moment we had high school that our upbringing was was a bit different to the rest of the people. How did physical commodities trading even enter your world as something you could do? That’s a good question. So my my mentality the life has always been set myself challenges and achieve them at whatever cost. And when I moved back to Switzerland, the town where I was born had transformed into this commodities business Haven, Switzerland as well known for its business culture, business and banking. So when I when I moved there, I saw that all these kind of young guys who were these commodities, hot shots, earning ridiculous figures, and for me, that was, you know, that was a great, a great challenge for myself to set, you know, hey, if I want to become independent, I may as well shoot for, you know, the best job in town. And that’s how it all started.
Eric Hornung 15:15
How’d you get in the door?
Janosch Amstutz 15:16
I actually had a business card handed to me over the bar, when I was in a bar, basically saying, this is an opportunity that you don’t want to miss, you might be able to do it, you might not take the meeting, see how it goes. And, you know, for me, first I had to Google what the company was figure out, you know, what’s being asked of me by my first business shirt, and rock up to that meeting and just exude my confidence.
Jay Clouse 15:43
And you were like, 18 at this time?
Janosch Amstutz 15:45
Yeah, I just turned 1919, then apparently, that they’d be looking for someone with a degree. However, they couldn’t find someone to work within this team. And I just took a chance and convince them to take me on. And if that like me, then they could fire me.
Eric Hornung 16:01
What were some of the downsides of that job?
Janosch Amstutz 16:04
Commodities is great. I mean, you know, you’re earning good money, you’re traveling the world, I was in the, you know, in the team that was that was deployed whenever there was issues. So you know, I was being sent out to Russia, Ukraine, to old parts of Europe, even into Asia. And you know, you really moving forward in in kind of a your career prospects extremely fast. And what you’re trading off in that instance, is your trading off kind of doing what you want your growing career wise, but not as a person, and you’re putting a lot of hours behind the commodities is it is a standard 7080 hour week. And for me, as a young guy, that was fantastic. I was always this kind of this young, independent man could buy anything I want go on holiday, you know, to the most expensive resorts, you know, fly home for Christmas, every year, which which is also not not super cheap if you’re flying halfway across the world. But you’re really trading off that that ability to grow as a person, I think.
Jay Clouse 17:05
What was it like going home for a holiday after you had kind of joined this lucrative profession where it’s clear that you’re making a lot of money, and you’re going back home, I think, to like the farm?
Janosch Amstutz 17:18
it was interesting. For me, everything was moving so fast in a career like that. So so for me going home, you know, it’s a 24 hour flight, and my average visit home would be about, you know, six or seven days. So when you’re there, you’re jet lagged, and you just want to kind of tick the boxes and kind of spend as much time with your family as possible. And then you know, before you know, it, you’re you’re back in, in the mix of things in Europe. So that was kind of the one, the one major learning curve for me as a young guy was that, you know, maybe not everything is about your career.
Eric Hornung 17:52
How did you start to define what you want it you said that as you’re traveling around, you’re growing your career, but not personally, and you started to learn what you want? How do you define what you want?now?
So, so for me, that was a family quality family crisis, family emergency, my mother was diagnosed with cancer, about five years into me living in Europe. And for me, that really kind of shook the foundations of, of my lifestyle, you know, I had the mentality of, you know, I’m building my career now. But that’ll always be time later, there’ll be time for my family, they’ll be time for me to grow into things that I want to do. And within three months of my mother’s diagnosis, she passed away. And that was kind of a massive wake up call for me. How can you wait for something that doesn’t exist anymore? And, you know, my mother also told me, you know, the same thing that if you want to do something, don’t wait, if you want to become a certain type of person, don’t wait until it’s too late. Just Just do it. So that was kind of the big pivot points in my career, and and mentality towards towards life.
Jay Clouse 19:03
I’m going to take us forward a little bit. So you’re, you’re in Switzerland, you’re doing commodities trading, you’re in London. Now, what happened in the meantime?
Janosch Amstutz 19:12
So after I had decided that, you know, I should actually do what I what I want to do in life. And you know, and I started the question, well, how can I become the best possible person that I want to be? That starts with the career, I think, if you’re not happy with your career that flows in other parts of life, so I determine that the best way to become the best possible person I want to be would be to model a career around myself. And the easiest way to do that is to found your own company, jumping out of commodities, I was super excited about fast growing technologies, you know, commodities is an old business, it’s, you’re working within this old wheel. However, you know, I was super excited about creating my own wheel, creating something that didn’t exist, and really pushing something forward and being passionate about it. So I found a group of Crazy Russian scientists, who had convinced me about this new upcoming technology that’s going to change the world for good. And it’s called augmented reality. And I got absolutely hooked on this new concept of this new medium, this new computing platform, how we consume technology will change forever. And this wasn’t in the early days of AI, this was back in 2014, where, where there was these grand visions being sold. And that really got me hooked. And that was my way, my way to transition my commodities career into something that I was super excited about.
Jay Clouse 20:35
You don’t just find crazy Russian scientists, like what do you what do you mean, you found some crazy Russian scientists?
Janosch Amstutz 20:42
Well, as as all good Russian scientists do, they find you and I was interested in moving careers, I was interested in micro investing in technologies so so moving, moving my my monthly paycheck, you know, out of out of expendable things, and into building a future, and so on, decided to micro invest. And as soon as you start getting interested in micro investing in tech, all sorts of people turn up at your door saying I know this guy, I know that guy. I know that team who’s who’s been researching this, this niche technology, you should check them out. Yeah. And that’s that’s how I got in touch with this group of computer engineers in Moscow.
Eric Hornung 21:19
What was the first demonstration of augmented reality that you saw that so encapsulated you?
Janosch Amstutz 21:26
So the first demonstration that we saw when I when I got interested in the the augmented reality space… And talking to this, this research team, we decided to jointly visit the augmented World Expo in Santa Clara in 2014, just to check out what you know, what’s going on in the space? Who are the players? You know, what are we up against here? And so we flew that together, we saw a bunch of new technologies at the time, you know, companies like Daiquiri and zoom and meta vision, releasing all of these, you know, crazy, crazy devices and crazy technology is, but my Russian scientists, they were unimpressed. And I kept questioning, I was like, you know, why are you so unhappy? Like all we’ve seen this, we’ve seen this two years ago, we can do better? And and then I said, Okay, well prove it. You know, here’s some cash. This is this is like the task, prove it do better. And they blew me away. They absolutely blew me away. So the first the first applications that we were looking at where the capture of humans. So how do you capture a human as perfectly as possible, and translate that into into augmented and virtual reality? And that task has has stuck with us for the past four years.
Jay Clouse 22:38
So how do you…This, this is a perfect segue that really brings us into HoloMe. How do you describe HoloMe today?
Janosch Amstutz 22:45
HoloMe is a human capture software technology, we basically put humans into AR with high definition and extreme low data sets. You could visualize it as something like Pokemon Go, but instead of shiny little Pokemon, you’ve got real life humans, we have a pre recorded tool that allows content creators to push out messages. However, we can also do this in real time as a quasi holographic Skype.
Jay Clouse 23:12
And something you just mentioned the size of data on a lot of your messaging, it says in a scalable way. What does that mean in the AR sort of space?
Janosch Amstutz 23:23
Great. Yeah, so so AR has had a set to fundamental barriers to entry into the market barriers to success. On the one side is the consumer adoption. On the other side is the content capture? How do you create an asset for AR in a scalable way, and that’s what we do. So as opposed to creating so for example, you have 3d capture methods where you’re capturing a human three dimensionally, however, you’re looking at like a gigabyte of data per minute. And if you want to scale that to hundreds of thousands of assets, consumers simply can’t consume that, that sort of tech. So what we do with for the first time is we create this scalable solution, which allows you to put hundreds of thousands of assets into AR. So if you think of a retailer, or a retailer wants to put their garments into augmented reality, the same way as they’re selling their garments. Currently, on mobile apps, they’ve got a still image of the garment, they have a video, and they want a human in AR, retailers have hundreds of thousands of assets per year. And we are able to deploy that without tech, whereas whereas previously, you know, it’s been a one off experience has been a gimmick, what we allow is it is a way to communicate to clients in a scalable long term solution.
Eric Hornung 24:39
How do you get me into AR without getting all like 3d of me? Am I misunderstanding this? Like? How does I don’t understand how like I get in?
Janosch Amstutz 24:48
Perfect, perfect question. So what we do is, we capture humans using simple video. So simple video, camera and studio for enterprise, or for consumer use even an iPhone camera enough, and we cut you out of the imagery. So we just leave the human. And we overlay a data mesh, which doesn’t give, it doesn’t create a 3d experience, it gives the user the illusion of three dimensionality. So it’s the perception of three dimensionality as opposed to actual 3d scanning. And this allows us to be about 100 times smaller on the data.
Jay Clouse 25:22
So it sounds like to me it’s as if I’m looking through a Photoshop, magic wand or lasso, like you just doing that on video in real time, and pulling that human out from the background.
Janosch Amstutz 25:36
Correct. And then on top of that, we have a bunch of algorithms, which more human in real time as well to destroy the bill boarding effect. So basically, you can you can view that human in your space. And it has the appearance as if the human is actually 3d in your space.
Eric Hornung 25:55
Could you customize that. So like if we wanted to morph Jay into actually being in shape?
Janosch Amstutz 26:00
We could, but we don’t. So the beauty of our tech is that we retain kind of the reality of capture Exactly. So so we capture real humans, we don’t change them. And that’s, that’s a fundamental importance and human capture is that you have to make it perfect, because if you don’t make it perfect, the consumer, the user will notice something is wrong. And they will switch off to the experience. So unfortunately, we can’t put you in shape.
Jay Clouse 26:26
Neither can I. Jan, and something that happens on the show a lot here. You know, a lot of the companies we talked to are taking existing technology and putting it into a new context. And so we talk a lot about the model. I’m a Product guy, I’m really interested in to digging into the black box here a little bit more since this is such a new technology. You mentioned that your your Russian scientists were working on this and showing it to you as early as 2014. We’re sitting here in 2019, you’re describing what the product does. What were some of the stages you had to go through to get to the point today, I imagined there are some massive hurdles.
Janosch Amstutz 27:01
Yeah, so I think for us, it was more our perception of what a product is. So we began doing similar to what Microsoft was doing at the time, Intel few other startups out there eight, I, for example. And John’s, we started off with 3d capture. So we were doing your simple depth camera capture from all sides. Back in 2015, we managed to do that in real time, which I think at the time was a world first. until about two weeks later, Microsoft did it. But we hit limitations. There’s a limitation if you’re if you’re relying on the hardware for the quality of capture. And we hit that that ceiling relatively quickly and decided that that wasn’t the route to market. That wasn’t the right solution. And then we moved into photograph Metairie, even pasting gels, reflective gels on humans to capture the bounce back. But also, you know, we weren’t hitting, hitting the commercial value of human capture. It was more like, you know, we have a group of scientists creating these these wonderful technologies, but you just just know, it’s not going to be deployed. About two years ago, we had a kind of a light bulb moment that instead of creating future tech, and hoping for adoption, we reverse engineered the solution. So we looked at what’s the keyhole to the market, you know, what is a consumer able to consume? What’s the device that they’re consuming on, and let’s create the best possible solution that fits through that keyhole. And that’s really helpful to me was born. Have you been full time on this personally, since that time around 2014. So for me, it was a transition I I made, the naive learning experience that I think a lot of startup guys do is that you can start building a research team, because rely on computer scientists to build a company. And I learned relatively quickly that if if there would be commercial value in the technology, I would have to jump on board to commercialize that. So around the bounce the end of 2016, I realized that, you know, now’s the time to make that leap. If I would ever make that leap. And I quit my job, I had six months termination. And my previous job, I moved to London, from Switzerland, founded the new company in London, and start to commercialize the product. Why London. So I’d already moved halfway around the world way from my family, and I was considering the US. But that would be another leap of faith into a new a new culture, a new environment, London in terms of technology startups is second to none. In Europe, it’s my mother tongue in terms of English. And in terms of immersive technologies, London is a fantastic place to be, especially now with the whole Brexit scenario, I didn’t want to say the B word on the show. But I’ve said it London and the UK in general are pumping a lot of money into retaining interesting technology companies. Just as an example, I get an email or phone call once a week from some other European country, enticing us with some sort of tax breaks or free office space, or fun thing to move to their new startup innovation hubs elsewhere. But for me, it was always a no brainer that if I would say in Europe, it would be London.
Jay Clouse 30:08
And did you bootstrap for most of those years, this team? Were they operating kind of on their their own?
Janosch Amstutz 30:15
I always had them on payroll. So I bootstrapped it from my own savings. I think in the initial years up into our first investment, we burn through about 350,000. us, which was primarily my cash, but also know as any good startup founder does, he asked his family and friends for, for cash to to bridge him for a couple of months. And those months stay for a couple of years.
Eric Hornung 30:40
You said the first investment. So what happened after that $350K plus the friends and family was there another round of investment already?
Janosch Amstutz 30:48
Yeah, so we recently raised early stage cap. So at the end of last year, we raised 30 such cap to move our technology out of a PLC style deployment. So testing them market validation of the technologies to have scalable solution.
Jay Clouse 31:05
POC being proof of concept.
Janosch Amstutz 31:06
Jay Clouse 31:07
And so you reverse engineer this, you saw that consumers have mobile phones, you wanted to figure out a commercial aspect to it, what is the commercial route to market with HoloMe now.
Janosch Amstutz 31:18
So our commercial route is a two pronged attack of the market. On the one side, we have the enterprise software solution for pre recorded content. So anywhere, very coldly said anywhere where human is an asset, our technology allows that content creator to move into AR. So as broadly speaking, as you know, a fan engagement for football, to medical training, to sign language for TV broadcasters, to marketing experiences for charities, anywhere where human is being captured, our technology is applicable. So that’s product number one. And that’s really our bread and butter product. It’s difficult selling to enterprise. But once you’re in and the ROI is evident, then it’s a fantastic product to have. The second route to market is our real time streaming, so unidirectional, and bi directional. So either streaming a show like a fashion show or a music concert, or a presidential speech, for example, or informing the holographic Skype.
Eric Hornung 32:21
Do I have to do that on the HoloMe app? Or like if I recorded myself and some sort of live stream like Instagram Live? Could I do that? Does the technology work through that way?
Janosch Amstutz 32:34
So we’ve had kind of an ongoing communication with a lot of the social media platforms, we’re working on integrations, they’re currently it’s through our bespoke enterprise product, we are releasing our self service tool online. For both our products within the next six weeks, fingers crossed.
Jay Clouse 32:52
I see some logos on your website, and I saw some headlines that involved H&M, can you talk about some some of the commercial deployments that have happened and describe how that worked.
Janosch Amstutz 33:04
So the initial market that we hit, which was a beachhead, in terms of entering the market without tech is retail retail side, this ongoing struggle with online versus offline bricks and mortar becoming less relevant and online retail struggling to compete with, you know, the giants like Amazon and Alibaba. And so retail has been extremely receptive to innovation and change. And our technology has allowed them to create a new medium to sell. And the HMM project was a fantastic validation project for us, for the retail sector to show that, you know, this tech does have value to the retail market and clients are receptive to using augmented reality to buy fashion. And that’s led us to having phenomenal response from the retail market. And we’re currently deploying multiple contracts at the moment.
Eric Hornung 33:57
What what’s the benefit for me, as someone who wants to buy something from h&m using this is it, I get to look at a human that’s my size, or I get to look at a human that is me, like how customized is this?
Janosch Amstutz 34:11
So we don’t we don’t capture the user itself. Since we want the user would have to capture themselves using our tech and Carly is not deployable. But for the retailers, retailers, on, on super interested in the consumer, seeing fashion on themselves, especially with women’s wear statistics. And first of all countries show that the vast majority of consumers don’t like their own body image. So buying fashion on themselves is counterproductive. Even though you think it’s it’s super exciting to have to have that suit on your on yourself or or that government so retail still prefer, you know, your usual fashion model. So what they do is they capture the model the same way as a capturing images or video of that model, they capture an augmented reality version.
Jay Clouse 34:57
I just want to go on record as saying I love my body image.
Janosch Amstutz 35:00
Eric Hornung 35:01
We’re so happy for you Jay.
Jay Clouse 35:05
So the…I’m still a little fuzzy on what the H&M project actually looked like.
Janosch Amstutz 35:11
Yeah, so so H&M. Was was looking for an innovative way to showcase fashion through mobile. So we deployed a number of their models using our tech. So they captured the models in the film studio and added them to a mobile application, which allows users to view that garment as as a life size human the same way as you do Pokemon Go. And then you can basically you can choose the garment on the human. So you’re seeing that, that that virtual human in your living room, or you can see how the the garments fits. So for women, you can see how the dress flows, how it hangs on the human being. And that’s really important for for dresses, for example. And for men, you can see how the suit flexes How was worn. And that’s that’s a really important buying choice or buying decision for a user or for consumer
Jay Clouse 36:02
Strange question here…but as you are looking at commercial applications of this, did you look at the adult industry?
Janosch Amstutz 36:10
Good question. So we did look at the adult industry. However, what we’re interested in is building a sustainable business, which is industry agnostic. And additionally, when you’re looking for venture capital money, a lot of venture capital firms aren’t accepting or, or willing to invest in companies that that have entered those sort of industries. I’m sure how technology will be used in in all sectors and future in the same way, as you know, Adobe Suite is used in all sectors. And that’s really, you know, the beauty of our technology is is that as industry agnostic, you can use the same tool for any, any application, whether that’s for film, adult film, fan engagements, education, you know, whatever.
Jay Clouse 36:56
And so if I’m reading this, right, the H&M experience that was in 2017, that you’ve deployed that?
Janosch Amstutz 37:02
Yeah, yeah. So we deployed, we went to market mid 2017. That was our first major project.
Jay Clouse 37:07
And so what has changed or evolved since that project?
Janosch Amstutz 37:11
So that project was really a validation project for for our tech. Since then, we’ve moved on to the real time capture, we did a project for fashion week in London, in February of this year, and beyond the fashion show to Seattle, which was a fantastic test piece for us beaming humans in oriented reality, with less than 300 milliseconds delay is a fantastic achievement, and really kind of unlocks our tech for, for all sorts of new use cases. On top of that, we’ve refined the product further. So the beauty of using sync simple video, and overlaying data match is that you can continue to improve the data mash, and the overall experience improves over time, even content, which was captured in the past improves. So that’s really cool.
Eric Hornung 38:02
So there was a fashion show in London that you took a video of, and then put holograms of humans on a runway in Seattle? Is that how I understand that?
Janosch Amstutz 38:13
Yes, we captured…we capture the fashion show in London in fab. And within basically real time. So 300 milliseconds, we were able to have users in Seattle, see these models. Not on a runway, but on the streets of Seattle.
Jay Clouse 38:28
Are you going to tell us to do this interview that we’re actually speaking to a hologram of you right now?
Janosch Amstutz 38:33
That would be good, because I could have a nap. But, uh…no, I’m physically here. It’s been a really big week. And I wish that our technology could replicate my role. So far, that hasn’t happened.
Jay Clouse 38:46
So in 2012, there was the Tupac hologram at Coachella. And I remember meeting reading all kinds of pieces at the time that was like, this is going to be crazy, because now musicians can tour and cities all over the world at the same time, it like, speculated all the different use cases, and then just nothing seemed to happen. What happened?
Janosch Amstutz 39:05
So Tupac was a really exciting media. So what what they did is they created something, which was a stage hologram. It’s an it’s an age old technique called Pepper’s ghost, where you been a human being onto a film by translucent film. And it looks like he’s walking around on the stage. And that tech was fantastic. And still, it’s fantastic for large crowd experiences. But you’re limited to expensive hardware for the experience, and you’re limited to one location of viewing. Strangely enough, we’ve been reached out to by by many of the companies that are currently creating those stage holograms. And they’re super interested in our tech as a compliment for your way of viewing those experiences. So So on the one side, you have that that big crowd experience in a venue. But on the other side, you can reach everyone with a smartphone outside that venue at the same time. And we’re currently working with two major record labels on doing similar experiences.
Eric Hornung 40:02
How does HoloMe make money? Granularly.
Janosch Amstutz 40:06
So we have a very simple pricing structure, we charge per asset created and per minute of content. So it really allows the mass deployment about tech, it’s very affordable, I don’t like to say cheap, it’s affordable in comparison to any other sort of human capture. And that that really allows you to create as many experiences as you like, in a way that you can reach your your audience properly. So our tech is the base price is in the hundreds, rather than in the thousands in terms of in terms of assets. So yeah, we’re a content creator, in the same way that Adobe works, and you being able to just self serve, create your assets. And and on the other side, you have this finished experience, we do the same thing.
Jay Clouse 40:51
You mentioned that your model is per asset created. And these ecommerce companies, they have all of these assets that they’re creating. So how many assets would like a retailer be creating?
Janosch Amstutz 41:05
So the world’s larger online retailers have anywhere from 100,000 assets a year up to 1.5 million plus? So yeah, they’re definitely the biggest creators of human assets if we’re talking about assets themselves. So yeah, they’re bigger than film. They’re bigger than sports. They’re extremely efficient and creating these assets of humans, which means that we have to be equally as efficient.
Jay Clouse 41:31
So Adobe is a very off the shelf, you know, you install it, you pay for the cloud access, how would I as a user, if I wanted to use HoloMe, how would I access it?
Janosch Amstutz 41:41
If you wanted to use HoloMe as a user, first thing, you’d wait about six weeks until we launch the enterprise platform. And then after that happens, and I’m super excited that I can have a nap, then you could just subscribe to a platform to simple subscription fee, you have the ability to create assets on a SaaS model, deploy them either to your own app, or you can create a white labeled app and deploy it as a one off experience.
Jay Clouse 42:07
Is there any prerequisite hardware or software that I need to be able to actually do that?
Janosch Amstutz 42:12
So you don’t need anything apart from a video camera. And that’s, that’s, that’s truly what makes our technology so interesting is that the barrier to content creation is so low that anyone can create experiences. And that’s, that’s something that I think needs to happen overall in the AR and VR market is that content needs to be accessible, need to be able to create content as easily and as quickly as, as you know, capturing a snap on your phone or or or filming something.
Jay Clouse 42:41
You mentioned you had the commercial route. And you also had this real time streaming model, this two pronged approach is the pricing the same for both of those is that just two different applications of it.
Janosch Amstutz 42:51
So the the real time streaming has kind of an intrinsic value in the communications market. We’re working currently, we’re working with a major b2b communications provider on integrating our technology into their services. So if you would have like a teleconferencing service, like a Skype or a WebEx instead of video that the next step is having that human in your room. And and that’s really exciting for our tech.
Jay Clouse 43:16
Have you seen that Facebook video that was passed around recently of them making real time avatars of people who are wearing the Oculus?
Janosch Amstutz 43:24
Yeah, I’ve seen that. And I think I think that’s, that’s a good step in the right direction for Facebook.
Jay Clouse 43:30
What does that mean for you?
Janosch Amstutz 43:32
That’s fine. I mean, if Facebook wants to do that, that’s great. I mean, I think in terms of teleconferencing, not only do you need to see their face, but you also need to see their body language. And our tech allows you to see the body language, the first step present, what Facebook is done is, you know, being able to see the facial expressions is really important. And that’s where communication is going. You’ve got it, you’ve got to be able to see facial expressions, you got to see photorealistic this, you’ve got to be able to, to believe that that human being is real. Because if you don’t, if you’re using an avatar, if you’re using a kind of a computer generated 3d model, you’re not going to want to talk to that. That human being from from more than one experience.
Eric Hornung 44:18
Is this tech patented, patentable, or does it matter?
Janosch Amstutz 44:23
It’s both, which is great. So yeah, we do have patents on the technology. It’s a really interesting new way to capture humans, I wouldn’t say it’s a simple solution. It’s a easy solution for people to use, using a really kind of interesting route to content capture, and that that is patentable now.
Eric Hornung 44:43
when you’re talking to investors, do they care that its patented?
Janosch Amstutz 44:47
It depends where the investor is from us investors tend to care bit more than European investors. I think European investors seem to be a bit disenfranchised with software patents presently. But I think it doesn’t matter. I mean, if you can prove a patent, then that’s that’s that extra notch on the on the credibility belt, which is, which is super important.
Jay Clouse 45:07
I would actually love to keep down this thread. Since you are you’re calling us from New York right now you live in London, you’ve spoken with investors on both continents? What are the differences in the way investors approach conversations with you?
Janosch Amstutz 45:19
The differences in terms of geographies?
Jay Clouse 45:21
Yeah, so is there…are there any marked differences between the way that investors in London or Europe speak to you at than American investors?
Janosch Amstutz 45:31
So the major differences that I’ve seen is, I think London, London investors will spend longer on on the due diligence of a company. So they’ll spend longer kind of investigating what’s behind the proposition. Whereas I think us investors tend to tend to look a bit quicker and fire through a bunch of companies at once. However, in terms of technology, so deep technologies, like like what we’re doing, there’s definitely more knowledge of the industry in the US. And when that makes it easier or harder to be invested his remains to be debated. How big could this thing be? It seems like there’s sure it’s, it’s an off the shelf solution, anyone come in and start creating assets and paying for that, but it seems like there’s got to be both some level of awareness that this tool exists and some technical savvy to be able to use it. So how big Could this be after it’s deployed? This that could be really big, I think, I mean, I just I just got back from LA, looking at different markets in the US to see what the appetite is for our technology and the overall receptiveness that we have the the positive receptiveness is fantastic. What enterprises are seeing is that they’ve been really interested in augmented reality for a long time, but they haven’t seen the right way to deploy haven’t seen, you know, the right method, the right technology. And, you know, we’ve we’ve had fantastic discussions about the tech, and anywhere where humans being filmed, our technology allows those content creators to deploy AR, even you use cases that, you know, we’d never dreamed off, like, I’d never dreamed of deploying our technology into a sign language application for for TV. So it really remains to be seen, you know, where this technology will be applied. And the purpose of our role is to deploy the tool, and creatives in whatever industry can use our tool to create their own experiences and that’s a fantastic thing to have.
Eric Hornung 47:24
What are the next two hires you have to make to really grow this thing?
Janosch Amstutz 47:30
So at the moment, we’re relatively fortunate that we’ve just been able to hire almost double our team. So we’ve gone from five to 10. At the next hires are on the technology side, in order to keep up with the deployment of our tech.
Jay Clouse 47:44
Is data storage, a major cost driver for you? Or is that so cheap now that it’s negligible?
Janosch Amstutz 47:50
For us, it’s, it’s, it’s great because we work with large enterprises, so the majority of you know, large corpse, that use our tech, they have their own content management systems, their own storage, so please plug into that. It’s a good solution for us not to not to worry about the data storage for these guys. For smaller applications, we do the data storage, but it’s negligible.
Jay Clouse 48:11
I’m still wondering, you know, if, if I’m an investor, and I’m saying, okay, I buy into the black box, and I think that this works, and I see there’s applications in enterprise, I still get to know you know, how many customers do you have to sell? And what does that mean for me as an investor? So you know, how big is the market itself?
Janosch Amstutz 48:27
It’s difficult to gauge because the use cases themselves are kind of popping out of the woodwork. If you’re looking at e commerce in AR, as kind of a basis in the next three to four years. There’s 230 billion US going through e commerce and AR, that’s something that not only as an investor becomes exciting, if if that the company has the ability to deploy into that market, but also for clients in general, you know, they’re looking for that solution. If there’s 230 billion going into ar e commerce, you know, what’s our plan to deploy into that market?
Eric Hornung 49:01
How’s that breakdown of your teamwork? You said, there were 10 people? Are they mostly technology? And then you’re handling all the business development? And that’s why you need a nap? Or is it broken down a different way?
Janosch Amstutz 49:15
So we’re about 50/50. So we have about half developers and technical related people. And the other half is business development commercial side. So I think the important thing to remember is when you’re a tech company is not just to drive the tech forward, but also to drive a stable business and ensure you’re you’re checking the boxes, and building strong foundations around the business. So yeah, where we’re relatively well focused also on the commercial development side, as opposed to just the tech.
Eric Hornung 49:44
What do the first six weeks after launch look like? Like, what’s your go to market strategy?
Janosch Amstutz 49:49
First six weeks off the launch is chaos. absolute chaos. As as with most tech startups, we have a bunch of stealth projects, which are launching over the next four to six weeks, which will really prep the market for us in places like in sports for fan engagement in broadcasting in the film industry, as well, in education, even for, you know, one of the world’s biggest charities. So we’re planning to have a lot of exposure over the next four to six weeks, which will prepare the market for for the launch of our tech. So yeah, I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of kind of hiccups along the way, but we’re hoping for it relatively smooth launch. Talk to me about what you know about Magic Leap, which has received just like astronomical amounts of investment in their approach versus your approach. So Magic Leap is a phenomenal company. Ronnie Ebbets has done extremely well. And I think I think what they did did very well, from the beginning, was cell division sell the story, the future is coming. And it’s going to look like this. And we’re creating it. And that’s what Magic Leap has done extremely well in in the form off being able to generate that hype. And that hype is obviously led to a phenomenal amount of investment. I think what they’re doing is great, I think their their current headset is also relatively good. But I do know that the technology, which is in their labs at the moment, is years ahead. So I’m really, really excited to know and to see, you know what they’re going to bring up next.
Jay Clouse 51:24
Does your technology dovetail with their technology? Because they have the headset and they’re looking at things in physical space around them? Does that mean good things for HoloMe? Or is that scary?
Janosch Amstutz 51:36
That’s it’s absolutely fantastic for us. So any any form of being able to view a VR experiences helps us deployed the market. So what magic leaders doing is phenomenal for us. I’m praying for the time when a consumer headset gets adopted at a mass scale, because that means that our tech really shines in a world of AR human models, and deep fake technology. Should I be scared? Definitely. You should be terrified. I’m also terrifying. It’s not our tech. So our tech replicates the real world. So we can’t do a whole lot of magic. But yeah, there’s definitely some some super scary things out there. It’s becoming harder and harder to see the right thing. But not only see, I mean, it’s being harder and harder to hear the right thing. So there’s, there’s, you know, Adobe’s technology, you can change voice, and all of that multiplied into one fantastic package, you know, opens up a whole bag of problems.
Eric Hornung 52:34
We’re just living in a season of Black Mirror.
Janosch Amstutz 52:37
Essentially, yeah. I’m helping create that, but hopefully, for good.
Jay Clouse 52:41
Eric, we should be worried that people will artificially create episodes of our podcast making our voices.
Eric Hornung 52:45
That’s what we should worry about Jay? that’s the one thing?
Jay Clouse 52:49
I’m really interested to see, you know, Apple’s phone has this facial recognition technology that unlocks your phone now, it’s gonna help you pay for things. And we can create such good human replicas that you can create a fake model of somebody’s head and unlock their phones, like that’s happening. I’m not convinced that that’s the safer technology.
Eric Hornung 53:07
I don’t know where this is going.
Janosch Amstutz 53:10
We may see a resurgence of people
Jay Clouse 53:12
Janosch Amstutz 53:12
kind of jumped out and going back to writing checks.
Jay Clouse 53:15
Jan, and this has been fun. Is there anything that we haven’t asked in terms of augmented reality that you get asked a lot, or that we should be asking?
Janosch Amstutz 53:24
I think the question behind, you know, what’s the difference between, you know, viewing humans and AR and, and just your old old school video is maybe a good question.
Eric Hornung 53:34
Hey, Jan, what’s the difference between…you know, seriously, what is the answer to that question?
Janosch Amstutz 53:40
So basically, when we had when we had still images, so so photographs, it was the new Wow, experience it, it was the step up the evolution and in communication, and then when we started seeing videos online, which were replacing images. So for example, in news stories, you’d have a video instead of an image of a disaster, it was really the next evolution. And it brought you that bit closer to the experience. However, those two texts have been around for some time. And the next evolution really is to have that experience happen in your own space. And that’s what our tech allows. That’s what augmented reality allows. It’s more emotive, it’s more immersive. You can see that human as if they’re, they’re communicating to you directly in your own room. And that’s really what what AR technology unlocks.
Jay Clouse 54:25
This has been awesome, Jan. If you could tell us where listeners should go if they want to learn about you or hollow me after the show? Where would that be?
Janosch Amstutz 54:33
Jump on to our websites or just google us. There’s new news about us coming out every week, new experiences, you know, even something next week, which will blow people’s minds.
Jay Clouse 54:45
And what is what are the dates that people should know of, since this won’t be released for another few weeks anyway?
Janosch Amstutz 54:51
So our platform will be released to the public in the beginning of May. So if anyone wants to try our platform contact us before then we can give you an early release of the of the tech if you like, but but really May is going to be a big month for us. So I’m super excited about that.
Jay Clouse 55:11
All right,Eric, we just spoke with anJ Amstutz of HoloMe Technologies. It’s like we’re living in the future here.
Eric Hornung 55:19
It’s like when I was a little kid and R2D2 was on the screen and there was you know, a How would he call them hologram? Is that what it’s actually called hologram and I was like, Man, that is. That’s so futuristic. Now we’re there. Here we are.
Jay Clouse 55:34
We’re there. I’ll be honest, I was a little dubious coming into the interview.
Eric Hornung 55:38
Jay Clouse 55:40
Dubious a little
Eric Hornung 55:41
what does that word mean? That’s a bad word.
Jay Clouse 55:44
Well, now I’m going to Google the actual definition and make sure I’m not using the wrong word. But the gist of it is, that was a little that this is a critical, it’s like the precursor to critical like skeptical, skeptical, hesitating or doubting is dubious. I did it right. I was a little skeptical coming in the interview. Because it is such future tech. And although we didn’t get a ton of numbers in this interview, Jaan really seem to know what he was talking about. So what were your hot takes?
Eric Hornung 56:14
Russian developers is a whole new ballgame for us. Now it’s my hottest take a team of my Russian developers who look at a the way something is being done in sight. Now we can do that better. What an interesting interview part to that would be is just to have them on and just get to know like, what’s in their heads? Because that is, how does this even happen? I don’t know. Like, this is just crazy. To me. This is crazy that like, this is so different and out of our realm that I don’t I can’t even really process what a group of Russian like technical talent looks like that just happens to find this guy.
Jay Clouse 56:53
It’s probably not that crazy, but I did start to get a vibe….You know, we’ve listened to
Eric Hornung 56:57
You’re gonna shoot me down like that? You don’t think that crazy?
Jay Clouse 57:01
Crazy? Their engineers, their engineers that happen to live in Russia.
Eric Hornung 57:04
I get that. But it’s like, why Jan? He wasn’t doing holograms before. Like, go find like, I don’t know that whole pairing. Just it seems like we missed something there. And I wanted a better story. Sorry.
Jay Clouse 57:16
To his to his point…When you start announcing that you have money to deploy, I think a lot of people find you.
Eric Hornung 57:22
So how did he pick that? Maybe we should have asked that question. How did he decide this is where I’m going with my money?
Jay Clouse 57:28
Well, it sounded like they found him. He talked with them. They showed him some tech, they went to an early AR conference. They saw some stuff that they said that is not even nearly as good as what we could do. So he said, “show me” and they showed him.
Eric Hornung 57:41
find Jay it’s not crazy. You’re right.
Jay Clouse 57:43
It did make me feel a little bit like I was inside of the interview of Josh Wolfe, where he was talking about being inside the Nvidia office and seeing people at the at the edges of computer graphics and rendering. This seems like that type of conversation, that type of world where you’re right at the edge of this technology, and you’re with people who understand it better than anybody else. And they’re building on it, and you’re seeing what’s possible. You’re hitting technical hurdles. What impressed me most about Yon was the point at which he said, I realized that we would have to reverse engineer the business case to figure out what is the method of consumption for an actual customer for this technology, and not just try to do the future tech that we think will exist.
Eric Hornung 58:28
I agree with that on Jan, what I really like about the product comes out of that, which is I can do it with my smartphone, I can do it with any camera. I don’t need this essentially 3d camera methodology to kind of fine and scan me I can utilize 2d, which is so simple, yet so complex at the same time.
Jay Clouse 58:52
Yeah, we probably don’t even have any idea how complex that is. You know what I mean? Right? Like, it seems simple conceptually. But I bet technologically to get down from you know, he said earlier that 3d capture was like one gigabyte of data per minute, crazy amounts of data. And so this method that he talks about of using video and overlaying a data mesh on top of it. I don’t know how that works. But it sounds to me like that’s the core innovation here that he has patented that as an investor I would be most interested in.
Eric Hornung 59:24
It almost reminds me of like 3d movies, where you go into the movie, and like if I just looked at the screen, it looks 2d, but if I put on the special glasses, where those are the data mesh, effectively, you pop out as 3d. And I know it’s not the same thing. I’m guessing it’s not the same thing. But that kind of innovation is taking what we have taking what is the current system and saying, What’s the result we want? And how do we get between those two quicker versus saying, Hey, here’s the end result. What’s the best way to have that? And I think that’s where everyone’s going right now, which is this 3d space. This, okay, we can make everything perfect. This is like, how do we go from here to here as quickly as possible in a way that is 90% as good.
Jay Clouse 1:00:10
I wonder how much competition and the idea of competition and come up a ton and the interview. And I didn’t find much in my research grants that I did some pretty cursory research, I wonder how much competition is happening in this space. Because this seems like the type of technology where the costs are coming down, the cost of storing data is coming down, we can store all kinds of data, even if we are limiting the amount of data that we’re capturing in this, this method, magically, super capitalized company does not seem like a competitor and yawns eyes seems like Magic Leap is developing hardware that he thinks will be a benefit for people to have for his technology. So they might be in a really nice sweet spot here. You know, if I’m looking at this as an investment opportunity, I’m looking at the technology, I’m looking at the competition, seeing who else is playing in this space. But if you had a hold in h&m in 2017, and he said says that retail is kind of their beachhead, where they go, these people have hundreds, thousands of assets. And they’re, they’re charging hundreds of dollars per asset created with hollow me, those sound like those could be some pretty big numbers. But it also sounds almost too good to be true. You know, if I’m h&m and I have all of these skews, and I’m creating a digital version of them with me, and I’m paying hundreds of dollars per asset, that seems wildly expensive at some level of scale.
Eric Hornung 1:01:28
My biggest question here is what’s the incremental benefit for the retailer? Why is it consumer more likely to buy? If it is a picture of a person wearing something versus someone in augmented reality in 3d wearing something? Where is that kind of threshold? And I guess the best place to look would be okay, if someone posts a picture of a top on a retail site, and they put your post a picture of a top on a person on a resale site? What’s the incremental likelihood to buy of just changing that picture? And that’s how you can kind of at least gauge, okay, does making this more realistic, make the consumer more likely to buy and then you can value then you can justify that valuation I think you’re talking about, but right now, I don’t know, sitting here today, if I was on any website, and I saw, okay, I really like this jacket. Let me see what it looks like. And I saw it on a model, or I saw it on the 3d version of a model. Would that really change? how I think about it? I don’t know.
Jay Clouse 1:02:26
You’re probably not the target customer of those companies, though.
Eric Hornung 1:02:29
You don’t think I shopped at H&M regularly?
Jay Clouse 1:02:31
Well, just generally, you’re not really the core retail customer.
Eric Hornung 1:02:36
That was more of a facetious question.
I want to pivot to a different topic. Real quick, though. There’s this idea in startup land and tech that your product needs to be solving a problem, or it needs to be like, stoking a desire does hollow me Do either of those. I don’t know if I have an answer to that.
Jay Clouse 1:02:59
Eric Hornung 1:04:32
Whether that is the ultimate challenge or not, I think one of the challenges is going to be getting this into a place where it’s easy to access. Like I don’t want the friction of having to like I wanted to be in line with my current experiences. If that makes sense. I want to go to h&m and when I click this top, it’s easy for me to have this AR vision. I want to go on Instagram. And if like my favorite influencer is posting a live story of them in AR, I don’t want to have to go download another app to go see them in AR like I want it to be in line. What I watch a YouTube video like I want that to be in line AR right. So that to me is a bigger challenge than enterprise measurement justification or enterprise deliverables. To me it’s as a consumer, how is this? The easy the least friction to check out? Or use or see?
Jay Clouse 1:05:36
So Eric, put your investor hat on. What interests you about HoloMe? What potential shadows? do you have? You mentioned that if it’s not in line, it’s going to be hard to consume and might have a lot of friction? Do you have any other shadows or anything else is particularly interesting to you about this opportunity?
Eric Hornung 1:05:52
I don’t know that I feel one way or the other about this right now. And I think given a little bit more time to evolve Wait, the company and their launch and kind of how this goes forward and the live segment. I’m not sure I’m 100% sold on or 100% against the monetization model. I think that it makes sense as a starting point. But I don’t know that it’s going to be where how long he ends up in terms of monetization, and maybe I’m wrong there. But it’s just not clear to me.
Jay Clouse 1:06:27
I buy into the model. I’m curious on the price point, we didn’t get a final price point you said it’s in the hundreds, not in the thousands. But you know, the the tipping point for Facebook was when they made their ads self serve, Snapchat took forever to get there, they’re just now getting there. And that’s kind of where they’re going to pick up much more revenue, even post IPO. But having self service being a SAS model, I think makes sense for this if people generally are creating assets, if the creation of the assets is what the technology is ultimately used for that it makes sense to a cloud subscription model in my mind, but I don’t know what the price point is or where that investment makes sense. And for whom, you know, like it could make sense for a retailer that has thousands of skews. But if somebody else wants to create an avatar, maybe that price point doesn’t make sense. So how do you segment those two customers and leverage them both? I think a good mark on Jan as a founder is how long he’s been working on this and self funding this, you know, we haven’t really talked about his background, which I think is a fantastic story of being Swiss. But growing up in Australia and then moving into commodities trading, and then realizing there’s more life to be lived here, I’m going to do things my own way. And then finding these guys and investing in these guys and self funding this experiment for years. I think Jan as a founder is somebody that I would want to bet on just given how much personal skin he’s had in the game. And for what period of time.
Eric Hornung 1:07:51
I completely agree, I kinda want to go into a little tangent on that. We’ve done almost 60 interviews now something like 45 or so with founders, and everyone kind of has their own mix of how much they care about founder, how much they care about market, how much they care about the business, etc. moat is another one people care about. What’s your personal mix, as we sit here today? I know it can keep on evolving, but like how much steak do you put on the founder versus the business versus the prospects versus opportunity versus whatever?
Jay Clouse 1:08:25
Well, depending on how big my returns need to be, is going to dictate how much I care about market size. I think you know, if I’m a DR capital, or any other fun, that’s hundreds of millions of dollars, and I need that scale of a return. Worrying first about market size seems to be kind of table stakes. If I’m an angel, and I don’t need a multi multi multi billion dollar market for the same to get a return on my investment. I’m looking at Founder market fit. I’m looking at a founder that’s rooted in the thing that he’s working to solve. And I think a huge part of that is because I want that person to be committed and like really bought into the problem. I think a bigger part of that is just intricate knowledge in unfair advantages that come from having relationships in the space already.
Eric Hornung 1:09:13
Awesome. So if you put your investor hat on then and you’re looking six to 18 months in the future, what do you want to see out of HoloMe?
Jay Clouse 1:09:22
I’m looking to see, you know, he said they had submitted a patent on the technology, has that been approved? What is the extent of that patent? Because that could be really great. Or it could mean nothing, depending on what’s actually patented. I want to know more about the letters of intent or sign customers that are working with HoloMe, both from a standpoint of which industries and to what degree like what are they interested in? Because I mean, you can tell him this, this deal memo, we’re super hesitant, because this is pretty far outside of our wheelhouse. We don’t know much about the space, the technology is pretty advanced, it’s hard for us to wrap our head around the model the customer, what’s actually going into place and what the long term viability of it is. So I’m going to look at that as or through the proxy of the customers are interested in the technology and understanding why they’re interested in the technology and then extrapolating that out.
Eric Hornung 1:10:13
Yeah. I would say I’m only hesitant, because I’m ignorant. I think if I knew more about AR and VR, and maybe it would have been a good idea to have an insight guest on because I think once we have when we have those on, we usually have a bit more depth of understanding to a problem. But looking 618 months, I think I’m going to piggyback on yours, I’m going to dive a little deeper in that I’m will be looking six months post launch effectively. From the day this episode releases to 18 months post launch. And I’m not so interested in the first customers that launch, but kind of that second wave that comes after the launch, like they’re going to have their target customers that they launch with their their launch partners, whoever those are, and what comes after that, right? That’s going to tell me more than I think the first partners or customers or whatever you want to call them.
Jay Clouse 1:11:03
Alright guys would love to hear your thoughts. As always, you can tweet at us at upside FM or email us firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise, we’ll talk to you next week. That’s all for this week. Thanks for listening. We’d love to hear your thoughts on today’s guest. So shoot us an email at email@example.com. or find us on Twitter at upside FM. We’ll be back here next week at the same time talking to another founder and our quest to find upside outside of Silicon Valley. If you or someone you know and make a good guest for our show, please email us or find us on Twitter and let us know. And if you love our show, please leave us a review on iTunes. That goes a long way in helping us spread the word and continue to help bring high quality guests to the show. Eric and I decided there are a couple things we wanted to share with you at the end of the podcast. And so here we go. Eric Hornung and Jay Clouse are the founding partners of the upside podcast. At the time of this recording, we do not own equity or other financial interest in the companies which appear on this show. All opinions expressed by podcast participants are solely their own opinion and do not reflect the opinions of Duff and Phelps LLC and its affiliates unreal collective LLC and its affiliates, or any entity which employs This podcast is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a basis for investment decisions. We have not considered your specific financial situation nor provided any investment advice on the show. Thanks for listening and we’ll talk to you next week.\
Debrief begins: 55:08
Janosch Amstutz is the Founder and CEO of HoloMe.
HoloMe creates life-sized, high definition, real humans in augmented reality. Their software allows brands and companies to easily put real people into augmented reality in a scaleable way.
HoloMe was founded in 2017 and based in London, United Kington.
Learn more about HoloMe: https://www.holome.co.uk/
This episode is sponsored by Taft, Stettinius & Hollister, a full-service law firm known for assisting entrepreneurs across the Heartland.