Despite its potential, the jury is arguably still out on the best use-case for Augmented Reality. But one startup, Augment, thinks it has the answer: helping to sell products by letting customers see what they might look like in the real world.
A graduate of the Paris-based accelerator Le Camping, today the company is announcing a €220k (~$289k) funding round — capital it will use to take its offering to the U.S., where it has recently hired a biz dev and sales person, and incorporated a local subsidiary.
Targeting e-commerce sites, catalogs and sales people out in the field, Augment offers a platform where 3D models can be uploaded, and free apps for iOS and Android to let customers visualize products/designs embedded in their environment in “real size”. So, for example, you might be shopping for a new couch and by using Augment you’d be able to see how it looks and fits within your actual living room, through the view finder of your iPad.
The advantage of using Augmented Reality as a sales tool is that it increases engagement and conversion rates, and lowers the likelihood of a product being returned because it didn’t look how the customer had imagined. Or so the pitch goes. “In short, it removes the uncertainty from buying online or from a catalog,” says co-founder Jean-François Chianetta.
Competitors in the Augmented Reality platform space include Aurasma, Blippar and Metaio. “Our differentiator is that we provide the easiest platform to visualize your own 3D models in Augmented Reality,” says Chianetta. “We let people register to our upload interface, upload their models and share them right away.”
Furthermore, he says that unlike others Augment doesn’t do “games, dancing characters or advertising campaigns” and is 100% focused on using Augmented Reality to help sell. “We provide augmented reality as a service so our customers don’t need to do big upfront investments to benefit from it.”
The company monetizes in a number of ways including charging to embed the Augment button on e-commerce sites, an “offline” mode for sales people taking the iOS or Android app out on the road, and print integration.
Today’s new funding comes from a group of Paris-based angel investors: Tristan Vyskoc, an active investor in startups in the Parisian ecosystem; Laurent Therezien, a web entrepreneur who was part of Lastminute.com and Voyage-Privé; Olivier Mathiot, co-founder and currently VP of Marketing and Communication of PriceMinister; and Nicolas Vauvilliez, who was COO at LeGuide.com and is now owner and CEO of 1001 Maquettes.