Creating a 3D image of any piece is a simple 3-step process: shoot the chosen object with a digital camera, upload the result into Cappasity platform to get a 3D View and once it’s ready, embed it into anything you wish, be it website, mobile or 3D/AR/VR application. Besides the simplicity of use Cappasity software is also very fast, in fact, it is ten times faster in 3D production than any known 3D technology and doesn’t require any specific equipment.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Kosta Popov, CEO and Founder of Cappasity — the company providing an easy and scalable platform for creation, embedding and analysis of 3D and AR/VR content, who has a 16+ years successful track record as a software company CEO. Under Kosta’s lead, Cappasity successfully raised $4.9M and launched its platform and 3D digitizing software in 2017. Kosta is an expert in 3D technologies, SaaS solutions, and mobile applications.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
In 2013, there were several venture deals in 3D technology, and since the team had prior experience in 3D, video gaming to be precise, we decided that the market was ready to step into the era where 3D technology would be used by regular consumers.
We chose e-commerce in general and fashion e-commerce in particular as our target because at the time it was evident just how quickly this market would evolve and how expansive the demand for innovative solutions for online retail would be.
We began with product visualization but it soon became clear that what we needed was a pipeline solution for large retailers. And so Cappasity was founded in December 2013 with the aim of developing an easy and scalable platform for creation, embedding and analysis of 3D and AR/VR content that would allow to erase the line between brick-and-mortar and online shopping.
After several years of R&D Cappasity platform was launched in 2017 and now serves more than 1,700,000 views of 3D content each month.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
We had been thinking for a while about the best way to offer our services to LVMH (LVMH Moët Hennessy — Louis Vuitton) and in the end, we tagged one of the innovation program directors in a tweet featuring a 3D image of a bag produced by one of their brands. We hoped for the best, sure, but were still very much surprised when he responded. We suddenly got an in and now we are in the LVMH acceleration program. My point being, you needn’t be wary of unconventional ways of establishing business connections, because your competitors certainly won’t be.
Can you tell us about the “Bleeding edge” technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?
A few months ago Cappasity shared a video demonstrating the progress of the Unity plugin development, which allows you to use the content from the Cappasity platform to create 3D apps. Today we are taking it a step further together with the New York Academy of Art — right now you can visit the Virtual Gallery, which was created on Unity with all the art pieces shot in the Cappasity 3D View format. You will be able to see how our format seamlessly merges with a real 3D environment. The technology developed by Cappasity will help bring the art to anyone who might wish to see it, regardless of where they are.
Link to the Virtual Gallery — https://cdn.cappasity.com/updates/3dnyc/index.html
(The following demo is not compatible with mobile devices due to Unity Engine restrictions.)
How do you think this might change the world?
Cappasity and the New York Academy of Art have partnered to research the ways of fast and qualitative production of virtual museums, galleries, and exhibitions. The gained experience will help convert online visitors into physical ones and bring the exhibit to those who for some reason are unable to attend. Creating a 3D image of any piece is a simple 3-step process: shoot the chosen object with a digital camera, upload the result into Cappasity platform to get a 3D View and once it’s ready, embed it into anything you wish, be it website, mobile or 3D/AR/VR application. Besides the simplicity of use Cappasity software is also very fast, in fact, it is ten times faster in 3D production than any known 3D technology and doesn’t require any specific equipment.
A question that artists may feel the need to ask is whether all types of materials can be visualized in 3D. The answer is a resounding yes. Sculptors working in papier mache, in stone or cast metals will experience no difficulties with digitalization thanks to the Cappasity 3D imaging technology.
Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?
The 3D technologies used for the Virtual Gallery content creation are also often used by our e-commerce clients because even while delivering a convenient browsing experience and a wider assortment that can be usually found in brick-and-mortar stores, e-commerce still had limitations. It could not satisfy consumers’ desire to examine the product prior to purchase physically, nor could it mirror the in-store experience. At least it could not until now.
With 3D imaging, a retailer can provide customers with a graphical 3D product representation that offers an increased level of interactivity. A 3D View has no blind spots and, thus, leaves no room for concern about product authenticity. Zooming in or out, rotating the object, and viewing it in motion are just some of the features that 3D imaging has.
And since business decision making is becoming more and more data-driven, 3D product imaging needs smart analytics tools to measure its effectiveness. So here’s where AI comes into play.
Our AI analytics tool tracks the way potential customers interact with 3D images of products embedded into retailers’ websites and presents the most important metrics via a heat map. The map shows dwell time, points of customer interest, the best angles for thumbnail product positioning — metrics that provide valuable insight to effectively manage products and assortment and boost sales. Thanks to the AI analytics tool we can also predict the probability of the purchase.
The fact that AI analytics tools know so much about you may make “Black Mirror” seem prophetic, yet in the data-dependent world we are living in, this type of technology is nothing to be afraid of since the data gathered helps companies make your standard of living better. For a fee, of course.
Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?
We were experimenting with touchscreens when we noticed how people chose to rotate goods in different ways depending on the product angle that interests them the most. We decided to transfer this experience to the online world and the first experiments confirmed our hypothesis. Now we are working with big data to improve our algorithms.
What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?
Right now the complexity of 3D content production is a significant deterrent to the development of the industry. We cannot fully capture the world around us in 3D as there are just too many obstacles. Once making a 3D image becomes as easy as taking a pic with a smartphone, the new era of 3D technology will begin.
So when will it be? Let’s take a look at how 3D content is being made now — artists can create it manually and 3D scanners — automatically. Still, all scanners are useless when it comes to processing black and glossy objects, materials that are reflective such as silks and leathers, or textured — like velvet and wool, transparent objects are out of reach, too.
Users do not need excuses and 3D models that come with a long list of no-can-dos — what they want is quality.
For our platform, we created a technological process that allows 3D content to be produced by retailers themselves. What’s more, restrictions for objects that couldn’t be digitized are now mute. Thanks to this process we now have our own format — a 3D View that is almost an emulation of a traditional 3D image.
We believe that in the future there will be alternative ways to create and visualize 3D content that by then will have already spread globally. In particular, it will be possible to use machine learning to correct poorly processed textures and geometry data of the items that cannot be faultlessly depicted in 3D now.
Therefore, the industry will have to solve this problem to have 3D enter everyday life as 2D photos once did. Perhaps 3D will even partially replace regular photos.
At Cappasity we predict a significant growth of the 3D technologies market in the next five years.
What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?
To promote our SaaS 3D Product Imaging Solution, we are using case studies of our clients.
The case study of TSUM, one of the largest luxury goods department stores in Eastern Europe, proves that it’s possible for 3D product imaging to increase the conversion rate by almost 40% while also having large catalogues (40,000 stock keeping units) digitized in a reasonable timeframe.
We are now also providing our full-package SaaS solution to American Greetings, a creator and manufacturer of social expression products and the leader in e-greetings. Considering that replicating the traditional shopping experience for greeting cards online is challenging with the current merchandising tools available, for American Greetings 3D product imaging has solved a major problem. Product features frequently present on greeting cards such as glitter, foil, embossing, and other attachments can be difficult to appreciate with traditional 2D photography.
These are the success stories that we share with our audience to publicize our idea.
As for innovative marketing strategies, I think that our collaboration with the New York Academy of Art is a great way to showcase what we are about, which is innovation, interactivity and outside-the-box thinking.
None of us can 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?
Thanks to my parents, I learned to set goals and achieve them. Every year would mean a new short-term plan, and every 3–5 years I’d come up with some major goal. I believe that independency and dedication are vital for self-improvement. Teachers and mentors, on the contrary, stifle introspection and independent thinking by setting you up with a collection of off-the-shelf solutions.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Online shopping is now more accessible than ever, with thousands of e-stores offering their merchandise to customers who with every purchase get harder to please. Spoilt for choice, clients expect nothing less than perfection and oftentimes end up disappointed. We reduce the number of discontented people by improving their experiences. It might seem insignificant in a grand scheme of things, yet, I believe that it’s the little things that matter and if, for instance, you had ordered a Christmas present for your kids and got exactly what you wanted and were able to make them happy because you had our solution to help you, then I’m glad to be doing what I do.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
- Do not make the product more complicated than it has to be and run with minimal viability.
- Launch as many pilot projects as you can with your clients’ feedback there to guide you — that way you’ll be able to narrow down the feature list to the most well-balanced one.
- If you are developing software for content production, begin with the version for macOS and later follow-up with the Windows version. With the majority using a Mac, you’ll speed up the development process and get to enter the market sooner than if you’d begun with Windows.
- Do not try to please everyone — start with a niche market and then expand.
- Don’t waste your time on venture capital funds when raising the first round of investments. Search for “smart” money that comes from business angels, who later will introduce you to your first clients.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I think that it would be a movement for mutual understanding since many bad things happen because people refuse to understand each other and seem to lack empathy.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
Cappasity belongs to the luxury tech market segment and can be found among 65 highly technological companies on the Luxury Tech Market Map, created by CB Insights. Luxury Tech is a new market segment as luxury brands have only just begun their way to e-commerce and are now facing transition difficulties. And here’s where Cappasity, as a comprehensive 3D Product Imaging SaaS solution for e-commerce and retail, comes into play.
What we offer is the technology that allows to bring the in-store experience to online shopping through high-resolution 3D images. Cappasity is the first pipeline solution which solves all the problems of 3D product imaging. It allows retailers to shoot thousands of products in 3D every day and doesn’t require any specific equipment. Our software creates a 3D in just two minutes and automatically embeds 3D images into the online store through API. Our unique 3D format with data streaming loads in seconds on all devices including smartphones. What’s more, we also provide unique analytics tool to track customer behavior.
The company has successfully raised $4.9M and launched its platform and 3D digitizing software in 2017. Today, each month the platform serves more than 1,700,000 views of 3D content.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
LinkedIn — https://www.linkedin.com/in/popovks/
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.