Gravity Sketch, the London-based product design and collaboration platform that utilises virtual reality, has raised $3.7 million in funding.
The seed round was led by Kindred Capital, with participation from Point Nine Capital and previous investor Forward Partners. It brings the total amount raised by Gravity Sketch to $5.4 million. In addition, the startup previously received grant funding from InnovationRCA and the James Dyson Foundation.
Founded in 2014 by Oluwaseyi Sosanya, Daniela Paredes and Daniel Thomas, Gravity Sketch wants to change the way physical products are designed, developed, and brought to market. It offers 3D design software for cross-disciplinary teams so that they can “create, collaborate, and review” in a much more frictionless way, including via virtual reality in which collaboration can take place in 3D and real-time. The idea is to help speed up development cycles, especially involving globally-distributed and increasingly remote teams.
“Collaboration is increasingly important as time frames are shortened and consumers request products sooner, with more features, and produced more sustainably,” says Oluwaseyi Sosanya, CEO and co-founder of Gravity Sketch. “There is also a surge in multinational companies growing globally distributed design and engineering teams, who need to stay connected in order to deliver with the same accuracy they once did being in the same location. Small-to-mid-sized design firms who service large companies must also adopt this approach in order to win business — they often gain work from international clients that are unable to meet face to face as frequently as their domestic clients, and are also held to extremely high standards of delivery”.
In addition to pressure brought about by faster product cycles and remote working, the product design process itself isn’t always optimum, involving multiple teams with different disciplines and software tools and a jump from 2D to 3D. “When we talk about designing a physical product, we’re imagining this object in 3D,” says Sosanya. “However, for many years we have had to bring out that idea through 2D mediums, or through rough physical models. All physical products start with 2D sketches, which are then painstakingly translated to digital 3D models and then produced through standard manufacturing processes”.
To mitigate this, Gravity Sketch brings the designer into the digital 3D space from the initial sketch phase, which gives them greater control over the initial idea and how it develops. The full design team can then join the same VR space to get a full understanding of the design from the designer’s perspective before investing time and resources.
“The designer can more accurately get all stakeholders on the same page at the ideation phase,” Sosanya explains. “With VR we can leverage the fact that everyone thinks in 3D and offer a solution that sidesteps the 2D visualisation step which is present in every design process, so users can think in 3D and create in 3D. It’s sort of like a Zoom meeting in 3D, helping everyone understand the yet to be materialised product from their own vantage point”.
Furthermore, content created in Gravity Sketch can further the design pipeline, meaning there is no need to create different views of a design or have to create a 3D model in another tool. Gravity Sketch designs can be exported to almost all of the CAD tools on the market with a claimed 100% accuracy.
It seems to be resonating, too, with some of the world’s leading companies, such as Ford, Nissan, and Reebok, using Gravity Sketch, alongside 60 universities and over 50,000 creative professionals worldwide.
Meanwhile, Gravity Sketch says the new funding will enable the company to scale up the platform to become “entirely hardware-agnostic”. It currently works with a range of virtual reality hardware, and is in beta for iPad, mobile, and desktop.