Lessons From a Tech Titan: “Beg forgiveness, don’t ask permission”

My team are very good at giving back to the community through talks or sponsorship. There’s a group heading to our local MonsterConfidence conference this week to encourage more young girls into STEM subjects. As a part of my series on “Bleeding edge” technological breakthroughs that seem copied from science fiction, I had the pleasure […]

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My team are very good at giving back to the community through talks or sponsorship. There’s a group heading to our local MonsterConfidence conference this week to encourage more young girls into STEM subjects.

As a part of my series on “Bleeding edge” technological breakthroughs that seem copied from science fiction, I had the pleasure of interviewing David Levine. David is the CEO and founder of award-winning machine learning and computer vision company DigitalBridge. Based out of Manchester, UK, David and his team are on a mission to help anyone design beautiful living spaces for themselves and their family, no matter how little design experience they might have. An energetic entrepreneur with a degree in Computer Science, David has a track record of high-value business development deal-making. Most recently he was the Global Director for Automotive Telematics at Vodafone, following a career as International BD Director at INRIX (ITIS Holdings Plc.).

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

My career has always been very tech-focused. For example, I spent seven years working for the office of the chief technical officer at HP, specifically on innovative projects incubated outside of the standard business-unit structure. This was followed by a position at INRIX, where I was responsible for the sale and delivery of leading-edge technology projects to the likes of BMW, Toyota, Audi, Nissan and Hyundai-Kia. Just prior to launching DigitalBridge, I was the global director for automotive telematics at Vodafone.

Can you tell us about the “Bleeding edge” technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

Anyone who’s recently renovated their bathroom or kitchen will tell you the current process is flawed; it’s painful, slow and full of friction. You have to wait to arrange that gap in your diary to visit a professional at the outset or be visited at home. Then, there’s all the overwhelming unknowns associated with renovating a home, for instance how to design the room, which products are needed for a project, what happens if something goes wrong, finding a trusted professional, working out your budget and then how it all comes together for installation.

That’s why we’ve launched the world’s first, AI-powered, virtual design assistant for kitchens and bathrooms. The tool utilises the latest artificial intelligence (AI) technology to empower and enable consumers to design stylish living spaces that make the best use of space, while conforming to regulatory requirements.

Just like a real-life designer, the assistant first seeks to fully understand the customer’s needs and tastes, but without the huge degree of hassle or expense that comes with enlisting a professional to implement the project.

The tool sources inspiration through platforms such as Pinterest; determining if the user needs — for example — a family bathroom with lots of storage. It then helps to create an accurate floor plan using 3D scanning and pulls together a range of information, such as the project budget, to make relevant product suggestions and create tailor-made designs in minutes.

Users can then share their designs and collaborate with friends or family as easily as with a trusted professional online or instore to validate; safe in the knowledge their design will work in practice. Then to help bridge the imagination gap, the new space can be brought to life in outstanding high definition.

The technology has been designed to integrate directly into a retailer’s website so consumers can design and visualise their projects on any device.

How do you think this might change the world?

Consumers today expect a frictionless retail experience, for example Amazon Prime, free returns or Cashierless stores. However, home improvement retail is not keeping up. DigitalBridge is bringing home renovation into the 21st century and putting customers in charge. We’ll change the world for retailers through supporting their digital transformation and create a more streamlined experience for consumers, meaning they can spend more time with their families.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

Our technology is incredibly complex, although easy to use for a consumer. The elements that feed into our AI and generate tailor made bathrooms or kitchens are carefully curated by our Research Team with countless PhDs. There are of course serious implications if items aren’t in the right place, for example the importance of zoning in kitchens, and so we’d always recommend using verified software like ours, and having the plan validated by a professional as a sense check.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

I launched DigitalBridge back in 2013 when my wife came home with a choice of wallpaper samples for our living room. Unable to visualise how the room might look and, convinced I couldn’t be the only person unable to bridge the ‘imagination gap’, I set out to find a solution.

Whilst solving this initial problem, I uncovered a bigger opportunity. I found a gap in the market for an easy-to-use space planning and visualisation tool that, hosted on a retailer’s website, helps individuals design their new bathroom or kitchen.

In just a few short years, we’ve brought together a team of experts, with specialist skills from computer vision & machine learning to computer graphics and web applications, to build software that’s fundamentally changing the way people shop.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

We’re working with a major European retailer, but have plans to work with some of the biggest names in home renovation across the globe over the coming 12 months. We believe our technology will become the software people choose to use when renovating their home.

What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?
 As there are a limited number of retailers we’re targeting to integrate our software into their ecommerce flow, we’re using an Account-Based Marketing approach. I’m still learning about it, but our marketing and sales team are doing some pretty cool stuff! We’ve just launched a Google VR Cardboard Direct Mail test for example.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I’m going to have 5 — my wife and 4 kids. Because they are the funniest and most interesting people I know.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

My team are very good at giving back to the community through talks or sponsorship. There’s a group heading to our local MonsterConfidence conference this week to encourage more young girls into STEM subjects.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

The main one would have to be “Beg forgiveness, don’t ask permission.”

How can our readers follow you on social media?






Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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