Getting to know you: David Levine, CEO, DigitalBridge

What do you currently do?

I am the founder and CEO of virtual, augmented and mixed reality company DigitalBridge.

We are focussed on helping consumers and retailers in the home décor market overcome the problem of the imagination gap, which occurs when customers delay or decide against making a purchase because they can’t visualise how products will look in their own home.

I am based primarily at our office in Manchester Science Park along with our team of developers, ensuring the technology and UX meet the high demands we have set for our product.

What was the inspiration behind the business?

I came home from my corporate job with Vodafone and my wife asked me if we could redecorate our lounge. I said yes and she held up these two wallpaper swatches and asked me what I thought of them.

I couldn’t pick because I couldn’t imagine what the colour and patterns would look like across the entire wall. I went online to try to find something to help me visualise it but there was not a lot of tools available, and the ones I found were really, really, poor and didn’t help.

After that I decided to go and try and solve the problem myself. 

Who do you admire?

When Silicon Valley entrepreneur Robert Scoble visited the UK earlier this year we invited him to a tour of the office and the city. As one of the biggest names in the world’s tech sector he is someone I admire in being able to look at how technology can develop in the future, not just how it is being used now. 

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?

I think every decision we’ve made as a business, whether right or wrong, has helped us get to where we are now. When I started DigitalBridge I knew exactly what the problem was that I was trying to solve so that helped me focus and stay on track.

The use of virtual, augmented and mixed reality is not widely used in the retail sector so we’re among those businesses pioneering this technology so at the time it’s very hard to know what will work and what won’t, the whole thing has been a process to refine the tool and build a solid UX around it.

We’ve been fortunate to have found a lot of success early on, we were named Retail Week start-up of the Year in 2015 and then this year with John Lewis, so it would be hard to say I would do things differently because, as I’ve said, everything we have done has got us to this point. 

What defines your way of doing business?

Trust. Build a team you can trust and then trust them to do their work. Work hard to earn the trust of your customer and deliver what you promise and when you promise 

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

Be clear what your business is, or what problem you are trying to solve. I came from a corporate background working with large companies like Vodafone so that helped me but for people starting from a more novice position you have to have a plan for what you’re doing.

Also keep your customer in mind, whether that’s a business you want to sell to or the end user of your product.

We’ve put a lot of work into our online design tool to ensure to integrates easily into a retailer’s website and offers them something of commercial benefit, but also something that gives the customer a good UX.