Startup of the Month: VNTANA 3D Commerce Solution & Augmented Reality
Augmented Reality (AR) has been entangled in the recent whirlwind of metaverse chatter on the internet. Though, as a practical tool, the power of AR to substantially move sales for retailers is evident. Over the past couple of years, we've seen rapid advancement in AR capabilities and brands are seeing the benefit of applying this technology in their sales and marketing strategies. Signaling the widespread adoption of 3D and AR technology for brands and retailers, VNTANA experienced a 500% expansion in customers and partners in 2021. Fashion League talked with VNTANA to get a better understanding of what the future of 3D and augmented reality looks like in fashion.
Raised: $12.5 million
Special Sauce: Patented 3D Compression Optimization Algorithms
Investors: Mark Cuban and Anorak Ventures
FASHION LEAGUE: Can you introduce yourself and your company, and why you started working in 3D content management & augmented reality?
VNTANA: I’m Ashley Crowder, co-founder & CEO of VNTANA, a SaaS platform that makes it fast and easy to create 3D and AR eCommerce which has proven to double online conversion rate and increase average cart size. I’ve worked in the 3D/AR/VR space for over 10 years helping Fortune 1000 brands including Adidas, Hugo Boss, Deckers Brands, and more launch 3D applications to increase sales.
I have 14 patents on mixed reality technology and I’m a part of the Khronos Group to create standards in 3D technology. Prior to co-founding VNTANA, I graduated from USC with a bachelor's and master's in engineering. The USC Engineering school has a partnership with the military called ICT where they fund research in 3D, AR, and VR. This is where I first got introduced to the technology and I was amazed, I knew this would change the world and I wanted to be a part of building this 3D digital future.
FASHION LEAGUE: What are the advantages of using a 3D digital showroom compared to a traditional showroom with physical products?
VNTANA: Our clients are fully replacing physical samples with 3D digital versions, significantly reducing costs, increasing speed-to-market, and reducing their carbon footprint. Plus, the buyers love it which has helped increase sales as they are able to see the full product and even zoom into the detail and fabric pattern without the need for travel.
FASHION LEAGUE: What are some common misconceptions consumers have when it comes to augmented reality?
VNTANA: Augmented reality allows you to visualize digital objects in your real world. This can be done with a phone, tablet, or headset. Most people don’t realize if you use Snapchat and Instagram filters you are already using Augmented Reality! Another misconception is try-on capabilities. The technology is there to do face tracking really well for hat, sunglasses, and make-up try-ons as well as foot tracking for shoe try-on, but clothing try-on is still a ways off. Snapchat is the furthest along in clothing try-on, but all the examples you see are with puffy jackets because the body tracking is still too difficult to do for normal t-shirts and other thin fabrics.
FASHION LEAGUE: How do you imagine augmented reality will impact companies' sustainability efforts?
VNTANA: We are already seeing 3D and AR reduce carbon footprints by replacing samples in the B2B sales process. We’re also seeing that customers are willing to pay for digital-only goods on platforms like DressX, The Fabricant, and all the NFT sales that have happened over the past year. 3D and AR give consumers a way to still indulge in fast fashion, without needing the physical good which significantly improves sustainability.
FASHION LEAGUE: What values do you think are important when running a successful startup?
VNTANA: Integrity, grit, and optimism are some of the most important values when running a successful startup. You need to have integrity to make good decisions and build a great team. Things will get tough at times so grit is essential to keep going and optimism will keep you positive and excited for the growth of the company.
FASHION LEAGUE: What are some of VNTANA's upcoming projects?
VNTANA: We are working with a few virtual worlds to help brands easily sell 3D models as NFTs and virtually place them in games. We’ll also be making an announcement soon about a social media application so stay tuned!
FASHION LEAGUE: Any advice for our readers who may be looking to launch their big idea?
VNTANA: Don’t be afraid to share your ideas. If you build something in secret, chances are you will miss product-market fit. You want to get as much feedback as possible in the early days so you can build the right product that people are willing to pay for. Plus, you will be surprised at how many people will want to help you along the way once they hear what you are trying to build.
What do you think of VNTANA's 3D eCommerce solution? Leave a comment below. Follow Fashion League on Instagram, and subscribe to our newsletter for Faux or Fashion™ trivia, and the latest job postings from some of your favorite companies.