DigitalBridge, the Manchester, U.K.-based startup using technology to help solve the “imagination gap” when planning home renovations, has picked up £3 million in new backing.
The round is led by Maven Capital Partners via two funds it manages: £1.5 million from Maven’s Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs) and £1.5 million from the NPIF Maven Equity Finance, a regional development fund managed by Maven as part of the U.K. government’s Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund.
Working with Kingfisher Plc (owners of B&Q and Castorama) for the last couple of years, DigitalBridge has pivoted from its original AR-based home decor planning app to a new product it’s calling a “guided design tool” for kitchens and bathrooms. That’s because, DigitalBridge founder David Levine tells me, home decor visualisation is only a “nice-to-have,” whereas it’s a “must-have” for bathrooms and kitchens.
“Bathrooms and kitchens are much more complex rooms governed by complex design rules,” he explains. “We felt there was a big gap for a guided design tool which actively guides consumers through the entire journey of designing, visualising and buying whilst simplifying the inherent complexity of these rooms.”
There was, perhaps, another factor at play, too: the creation of AR development kits by Apple and Google have made it “really simple” for retailers to build their own home decor and furniture AR solutions, as well as seeing new competitors enter the space.
“Unlike most tools on the market today, DigitalBridge is utterly focused on the consumer and obsessed with creating simple and compelling experiences that enable that consumer to build their dream bathroom or kitchen irrespective of their design experience,” adds Levine. “Crucially, our core skillsets of AI and computer vision are absolutely pivotal to reducing that complexity.”
The DigitalBridge solution resides on a retailer’s website or app — it is already live with B&Q in the U.K. — and guides you through the entire process of creating your new bathroom or kitchen. The draw for retailers is that by enabling customers to easily design and visualise their new bathroom or kitchen, DigitalBridge can reduce sales cycles, increase conversion rates and average basket sizes, and “drive more engaged customers into store.”
“By using our technology, consumers are now able to visit the B&Q website and design the dream bathroom that will work for them, their family and budget, all without the need for professional assistance,” explains Levine. “Within minutes, they are guided through the process of entering their floor plan, designing the perfect bathroom and bringing it to life in immersive 3D. Once they’re happy with the design, they can buy directly online or go into a store to complete the purchase.”
Meanwhile, with regards to today’s newly disclosed funding round, Jeremy Thompson, investment director at Maven, says that DigitalBridge has developed a market-leading AI product that solves a genuine problem for retailers by helping them engage with customers online. “We are genuinely excited to work with them and support their next stage of growth, as they look to accelerate deployment of the existing product, develop new products and enter new markets, including the U.S.,” he adds.