[Funding alert] AR platform Avataar raises $7M Series A investment led by Sequoia Capital India
3D and Augmented Reality (AR) platform Avataar.me, which helps large enterprise customers create immersive shopping experiences for end users, has raised Series A funding of $7 million from Sequoia Capital India. The new funds will be deployed towards creating cutting edge R&D product initiatives.
It is also looking at strategic growth acceleration for brands across digital and digitally influenced commerce industries globally.
Founded in 2016 by Prashanth Aluru, Sravanth Aluru, Gaurav Baid, and Mayank Tiwari, the team took four years for developing the needed R&D. Avataar already has proven RoI outcomes for its MNC enterprise clients in the space of ecommerce, consumer durables, and automotive manufacturers.
The platform creates online experiences by replacing current 2D visuals with life-size and super-realistic 3D XR/AR experiences.
In a conversation with YourStory, Sravanth said, “We have always focused on creating a strong B2B2C experience. By 2019, when we saw an increase in smartphone penetration, we realised that AR experiences have a lot to offer other than just social media filters. There was an opportunity to change the way the retail industry functions. With COVID-19 and people avoiding stepping out, AR can give them an experience of shopping in store."
Sequoia Capital India said Avataar’s vision is to bridge the gap between offline-online experiences by replacing the current 2D visuals with life-size and hyper-realistic 3D XR/AR experiences. The opportunity the founders are going after is estimated to be worth $25 billion by 2023.
Shailesh Lakhani, Managing Director, Sequoia Capital India, said: “In 2019, more than 300 million users were actively using AR. Spends on AR tools for creating social engagement for brands along with 'try-before-you-buy' experiences were $1.5 billion – this is expected to grow 10X by 2023. Undoubtedly, the time for AR/VR is now, with ecommerce being one of the broadest applications.
“Using patented AI-based algorithms, the team at Avataar.me has developed the most comprehensive platform for enterprises to showcase their physical products and services digitally, driving better business outcomes. The Sequoia India team is thrilled to partner with Avataar.me and help power their vision of bridging the offline-online experience gap.”
Sravanth said Avataar lets a consumer drag and drop a virtual sofa or a fridge inside a simulated environment of their homes.
“The consumer can see if it fits well within their homes, kitchen, and living space. They can look inside the product, see specifications in deeper detail, and then take a call,” Sravanth says.
Tapping the 3D AI opportunity
Avataar’s use of AR technology brings spatial depth to the onscreen buying/browsing experience - delivering life-like photo-realism, mobile responsiveness, interactivity and personalisation – key influences re-shaping the digital commerce industry today.
From a purchase intent perspective, Avataar’s platform is delivering over 2X conversion rates compared to 2D videos of the same product.
From an awareness/consideration perspective, it drives over 60 seconds of average engagement time per user impression, which is 6X higher than the average 10-second impression of 2D videos.
Sravanth said there was now an opportunity for AR/VR that didn't exist 12 to 18 months ago. Computing power in mobile CPUs and GPUs now allows for complex deep-learning algorithms to run real time and deliver computer vision capabilities that were not possible even a year ago.
“AR/VR has shown a strong emotional connect with GenZ and younger millennial consumers, a segment brands have struggled to engage with in recent years and a segment that has far more spending power today than they did five years ago. Avataar stands uniquely positioned in the AR/VR industry to capture this opportunity as a result of conscious product architecture and go-to-market choices, and we are glad to have Sequoia Capital India’s support on this journey.”
The startup claimed business has grown by over 3X, and has empowered more than 150 million end-user impressions for enterprise customers in the last seven months.
Avataar has a global AR partnership with Instagram and Facebook to collaborate on AR/VR integrations. In 2021, it is looking to enter other major AR markets such as the UK, Germany, Japan, etc.
The platform currently works with ecommerce, consumer electronics, auto OEMs, and FMCG majors across the US, India and Southeast Asia, driving significant RoI outcomes for 20+ marquee brands by empowering XR/AR consumer experiences across all touchpoints - social, web, and in-app.