Interview with Lightvert’s CEO – Daniel Siden

Augmented Reality (AR) – A term that you could find all around the web. It is not uncommon that you have heard people around you spoke about this before.

However, how many people truly understand the technology? If you ask your friends how much they know about the technology, it is likely that you hear Pokemon Go as the answer.

Today, we have an AR expert-cum-entrepreneur Mr Daniel Siden to share with you his entrepreneurial experience in this space.

  1. Do you mind introducing yourself as well as your ventures to our friends in Asia?

Sure, my name is Daniel Siden, I’m the CEO of Lightvert Ltd. a digital outdoor media technology company.  We’re working to introduce a wholly new visual medium we call ECHO into the outdoor advertising industry.  ECHO allows us to produce the worlds largest digital outdoor images but without the need for the worlds largest LED screen.  ECHO is what is referred to as a Persistence of Vision (PoV) display technology, with a PoV display like ECHO we can create fleeting images from just a single thin vertical line of light through the persistence of vision effect.  The images exist only in the viewer’s eye and not in reality.  The resulting experience for the viewer is wondrous.  Images appear in their field of view for what feels like 1/10th to 1/4th of a second and at a massive scale!  It’s really quite magical and transformative to the cityscape.  We’ve patented a new means of creating this type of display which allows us to scale up the size of the display massively, up to 200 meters in height!

 

You can find video of viewer reactions and our demonstrations on your YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHApcDFUwO8hVNRDuC4sD9A

 

We’re a small company right now, and I’m not only the CEO but also the technologist in the team.  I come from an engineering and industrial design background, I’m a serial entrepreneur and recently stepped back from my previous company, Haberdashery which i co-founded with two business partners, Mac Cox and Ben Rigby.  I’ve always been attracted to light based products and technologies and my career has naturally followed my heart I suppose.

 

2. In Asia, we heard a lot about augmented reality but most of us don’t exactly understand the meaning of it. What is “augmented reality” all about? And why are you entering to this space?

Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality are really two interchangeable terms, so your readers might be hearing about both, but they are really the same thing.   Both refer to the ability to overlay digital images and information in the real world.  Mixing digital information with real-world sensory information: vision, sound primarily.

 

This is undoubtably the future of information, and anyone who watched the Facebook F8 conference will realise that soon the mobile phone will be replaced by mixed reality devices and the web will grow to accommodate mixed reality media.

 

The power of mixed reality comes down to context… it places the person in both a physical context and a digital context at the same time, and with so much of our lives lived through both, but via very separate channels at present I’m sure your readers can imagine the power and value mixed reality can bring to our daily lives.

 

What’s particularly interesting about our ECHO technology is that it doesn’t require a wearable or mobile device to see the digital content we produce so the thrill and the intrigue of the experience is available to everyone, but once a wearable or mobile device is incorporated into the experience, a wide range of opportunities open up for the viewer.

 

  1. Outdoor or Out-of-Home (OOH) advertising could be quite competitive and in some developed cities, it could be capital-intensive to set up such business. How did you intend to break the barriers of the market? What are the strategies you are employing to enter the markets like US or Europe?

You’re right, OOH is a very challenging space to enter.  And it hasn’t had it’s technology revolution yet unlike web and mobile. But this is quickly changing.  Advertisers and viewers is becoming much more progressive in terms of their acceptance of new media and new commercial experiences.  We’ve partnered with Kinetic Worldwide here in the UK (part of WPP group) and we are looking to form similar partnerships in other regions around he world to introduce our ECHO media to the OOH industry.

 

We recognise that there is going to be a period of education for the general public as they begin to understand ECHO. So we’re working to align first uses of the medium with civic and cultural experiences, such as sports and the arts to allow the viewing public to accept it on their own terms, rather than force the medium into the confines that have been defined by traditional screen media.

 

  1. What are the challenges or opportunities for Lightvert in the next 3 years?

Quite a few!  But our main challenge is ensuring that we introduce the medium in the right way such that different regions and markets appreciate it for what it is.  Everyone expects outdoor media to be a screen or a poster and ECHO has very little in common with either of those mediums.  Most people though don’t recognise that their entire way of thinking about visual communications relates to screens or print, so we need to introduce ECHO in the right way so that people can find their own path to break outside the paradigms of traditional media expectations.

5.What’s your expansion plan for Lightvert? Any plans to enter Asia markets in the near term?

Asia is a large and very attractive market for Lightvert. We are actively looking for the right partners in the region to help us enter the market there.  And we encourage anyone to contact us through our website should they be interested in working together.

 

  1. Is Lightvert raising capital? If so, which funding stage the company is at right now?

We are currently in advanced discussions with a Hong Kong based investor to close our seed round.  Once we complete this round of funding we will be working to produce the first commercial unit for Q4 of 2017.  We anticipate an A round in about 12 months time, which will focus on building out a larger network of ECHO displays.

 

  1. As an entrepreneur yourself, what are the attributes do you think an entrepreneur should possess?

Firstly, It really helps if entrepreneur’s are good all-rounders… they have a thirst to know about finance, HR, design etc., but most importantly they need to know about their customers.  Always stay close to your customers.

 

Secondly, and while it isn’t 100% necessary it certainly helps to be outgoing and tenacious!  Entrepreneurs need to own their space and really be a part of the beating heart, the cutting edge of their market so it pays to be ‘on the scene’ as i call it, attending the events, contributing to blogs like the NEO Dimension, and putting your communications out there.

 

Thirdly, don’t buy into your own hype.  You’re going to spend a lot of time selling your product, but good entrepreneurs keep a very close eye on constructive feedback and draw out the constructive feedback from every person they interact with. A lot of people will shower entrepreneurs in platitudes and it is easy to become too proud.

 

  1. What advice will you give for our budding entrepreneurs or people who want to start a business?  

 

Firstly, build it, do it, make it, sell it.  Make your product, even if it is just a prototype, offer your service for sale.  Get to your minimum viable product/offer before you try to raise any equity funding.  The lessons you learn from building it and doing it will be invaluable to get your business going.

 

Secondly, don’t be afraid to take on equity partners.  You can have 100% of nothing or a lesser % of something, which would you prefer?  Finding the right partners can be the biggest challenge though, so take advice as to how to bring them into your business.

 

Thirdly, try to find a mentor.  A good mentor can really mean the world during the inevitable highs and lows you will go through in your business journey. I personally really enjoy mentoring entrepreneurs.  The right mentor will be a friend and an ally but also help to keep you on track.

 

  1. It is said that every entrepreneur has their own set of checklists while evaluating a venture. As an entrepreneur, do you mind sharing with us yours?

Team – Is the team capable of supporting the pillars of the business?

Finances – Do they have a robust financial model and what are the assumptions in the model?

Product – Does their product or service work?  Has it been proven?  Has it been sold?


Also published on Medium.

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