Epigraph is a company in Kansas City, Missouri, that builds scalable, customizable, engaging customer experiences in 3D and augmented reality (AR). Flyover Future spoke with co-founder Jasper Mullarney about what the company does.
Tell us about Epigraph.
Mullarney: The high-level pitch is that visual content is essential to sales. Every product needs photographs if you’re going to ever sell it. The creation of that content using today’s methodology is time-consuming, wasteful, and expensive.
Mullarney: For example, if you’re a manufacturer of couches, then you need to manufacture those products; package them; ship them; put them in a studio; and use a camera to take photos. We’re actually taking in manufacturing data and using that data to generate valuable content for products. We can make CGI that is indiscernible from a photograph without ever having to touch the product.
Why is this kind of marketing tech important now?
Mullarney: The main reason we’re doing this is that, at some point, the ‘dominant screen’ is going to move from our hands to our faces. Instead of me holding a phone, I’ll be wearing smart glasses or something that overlays data on the real world. The best example of that is if I’m shopping for couches and I have smart glasses on, then I can look at what that couch would look like in my room. That’s a much better user experience than a 2D image. I’m able to drop a 3D object into my room that casts shadows and reflects light like the real thing would do.
If you view an object in your room through your phone screen, then you’re more likely to ultimately purchase that item. If a user engages and uses this tool, then they’re more likely to buy. That’s obviously going to become even more significant when people are wearing smart glasses that are required for the media type. That’s where we think things are going and we’re trying to get our customers ahead of it.
How did the company get started?
Mullarney: My two business partners were colleagues of mine previously in a 3D visualization studio. We saw the writing on the wall that things were going to change a lot with augmented reality. One of those guys is my neighbor, and he came and talked to me because he knew I had an advertising background. We bootstrapped the company and founded it in 2018. Bootstrapping did well until the end of 2019, when we were offered $500,000 by the Fountain Innovation Fund.
What advantages does Kansas City offer in terms of launching a business?
Mullarney: It’s interesting. I’m originally from Ireland, and one of my business partners is from Portugal. But the thing I like about Kansas City more than anything is how accessible things are. That level of accessibility leaves open the ability to have a great lifestyle both professionally and personally. Another is that [the city] is a bit less hectic but quite supportive of creative businesses and people.
There’s a reason there are so many advertising agencies here. The big global digital ad agency VMLY&R was founded here and is still based here. They now have branches in China and all over Europe. Digital Evolution Group (DEG), which is now part of Merkle, is from here as well. Bob Bernstein opened the marketing firm Bernstein-Rein here—they invented the concept of the Happy Meal for McDonald’s.
You’ve got a lot of creativity in the history and culture, combined with the accessibility of the city. Overall, it makes [Kansas City] a pretty great place to grow a business like this.
What are your plans for the foreseeable future?
Mullarney: In the first half of this year, we figured out ‘our lane.’ In other words, this is our pitch to customers; these are the partnerships we want; and how we want to structure them. So now it’s scale. How do we take this defined thing and then fuel and grow it? My personal goal through the end of the year is to build out a sales team designed around hitting specific goals in our industry for our product. It’s a matter of taking us from this startup that had some traction to the product/market fit. We want the product to be mature and scalable, and then we want to build the teams around it to make it scale.