Today is Wednesday, which means we have an opportunity to introduce you a worthy European startup. This time we invite you to e-meet Gunita Kulikovska, Founder & CEO of Vividly, based in Latvia.
Gunita’s background lays in architecture, urbanism and urban strategies. She is a member of Forbes’ 30 under 30 and a TEDx speaker. Archipreneur has also given her praise, as she was proclaimed one of seven most inspiring female entrepreneurs in field of architecture. Since 2016, she and her partners established startup company Vividly embracing VR as new medium for building better cities.
What is Vividly?
Vividly is immersive tech company operating in architecture, construction and real estate field.
We look beyond just technology and address real business challenges by looking at entire user journey that elevates the entire experience and maximise value for enterprise. In many cases we might even say that immersive tech is not the best solution to clients problem. And that fair. We want to keep the honest and transparent communication.
When and how did you get the idea to create such a project?
I am curious person by nature at first place and I like to experiment with myself and with things around me and indeed I was freshly graduated from Architecture school.
The reality kicked in when I first time got my drawings and ideas in front of public. It was disaster. I wouldn’t call it conversation at all. There was a clear and obvious need for common ground, common language that was rather defined by space.
So I started to look for ways to play around with participatory techniques. It seemed tempting to combine it with immersive technology. Back in 2015 we were one of the first ones to bring VR in built environment in Baltics.
Why did you choose such areas as architects & designers, urban design & communication, exhibition venues & exhibitors to provide Vividly solutions?
Vividly is all about synergy between humans, space and technology – clean, transparent and live. I must quote Churchill here “We shape buildings thereafter they shape us”. Built space is too important to be left just in hands of professionals. I believe immersive medium can truly elevate the way we talk about built & unbuilt spaces around us.
Do you have any worthy competitors, and how do you deal with them?
It is hard to talk about competitors in this space. Every new company entering the field help to raise awareness about immersive technology. We appreciate work that everyone does in the field. I think as more people know about space as better it allows Vividly to stand out with our brand.
What are your competitive advantages? What helps you to maintain a strong position in the market?
We keep the offer beyond just technology and solutions. We have developed methodology how we work with every case and focus towards user journey has paid back to Vividly and our clients.
Are there any weaknesses in your product at your opinion? If yes, what kind?
There is Vividly webVR platform for SME’s in architecture in our portfolio. It is fairly raw product with a lot of potential. We are looking for a lot of major development breakthroughs in web space to be able to deliver “one button VR” solution for SMEs in architecture. Vividly platform does really the core – in 3 simple steps gets your raw 3D model out of your architecture soft into immersive webVR experience across web and all kinds of VR devices.
Is this the first your startup or did you have another ones previously? What are these projects and on what stages they are?
Indeed Vividly is my first try in startup game, but I rather avoid using word startup. Because frankly we want to be solid company with strong brand name that stands behind progressive ones in built space. Only Vividly App as a product falls into startup-ish description. I think I am over that overwhelming startup hype and I think immersive company has more to provide outside of startup world.
If you do not mind my asking, what was the investment amount for project creation and initial promotion? Was it an investor’s money or your personal savings? If it was an investor’s help, could you tell us how you found him?
I invested my own money to experiment, test, shape general idea and gather further resources to develop company. I was looking for clients first before going to investors.
What experts were indispensable at the stage of creating and launching a project?
The expertise is not as important as motivation and strive. Of course, there has to be core skills represented – technology, marketing, industry insight. However, I think the essence is in the wrap – how do you get things done, design thinking methods, work routines, focus and taste for design.
What were the challenges during the launch and how did you cope with them?
There was very low response when we first launched as platform for architects. Then we just simply launched again. It is something new for market, it talks different language, it might take time to pick up. Don’t be ashamed to introduce it over and over again until it actually launches. I don’t think we even have fully launched until this day.
What startups do you have a partnership with and how does this help you promote your project?
We appreciate collaboration with young and striving partners, call them startups or not. We are joint by interest to help architects.
– Bee Breeders, Design Morphine, Archipreneur all stand for shift in mindset within industry.
How to start promoting a young technology project in your opinion?
Don’t promote it. Go and help people become better people and better businesses. Help is your promotion as later it is your sales.
What of your knowledge and skills were useful while launching the project?
You can always obtain skills & knowledge. What you need is attitude, belief and open mind. Be ready to win or learn. Learn to learn.
Would you recommend to startuppers to subscribe for the pages of any Internet communities able to provide them with some helpful information? Which ones?
My “go-to” source of food for thought is “Seeking Wisdom” podcast by Drift team. I feel I have become not just a solid entrepreneur but also solid personality growing up with seeking wisdom mindset, which manifests my kind of values towards business, human relationships and simply the way mind is organized.
If there were no Vividly, what another project would you develop?
Most probably I would be building boutique hospitality business with custom made treehouses in my hometown.
How do you see further development of your project?
Vividly project has been a gym for personal development to me and to the whole team. I have no doubt that company will continue to enrich whilst keeping vivid look towards future opportunities.
What is the most valuable business advice you’ve ever received?
Focus. Discipline. Human.