Michael Valdsgaard talks tp Business Matters about why he founded retail augmented reality platform London Dynamics
Why did you set up London Dynamics?
The retail landscape is going through an unprecedented level of change. Emerging technologies are relentlessly disrupting the sector, changing the way customers shop and not making it easy for retailers to keep up. With London Dynamics, we want to help retailers and brands offer an advanced, realistic and useful experience without a major burden of investment or time which can immediately offer something which appeals to a growing and increasingly tech-savvy base.
London Dynamics provides a plug-and-play platform to retailers that lets them quickly and seamlessly integrate an advanced augmented reality (AR) experience to any ecommerce platform. Our solution works through mobile browsers, there is no need to design or make users download an app. With our solutions, retailers can extend their ecommerce experience beyond 2D text, pictures and videos, and provide a more realistic, three dimensional ‘try before you buy’ option.
We are here to help businesses of every size and scale bring online shopping back into the physical world.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
Our whole team is passionate about new emerging technologies, particularly those that genuinely elevate and inform the customer experience. I assembled some of the brightest, award-winning specialists, all with multi-decade track records in the commercial and retail space. We all want to transform the way the world shops and usher in an era of truly ‘experiential’ online shopping.
What defines your way of doing business?
We prefer to go against the grain. In both our model and solution, we are pioneering new ways of doing things and surprising our customers with how easy we make integration of seriously advanced technology. As CEO of London Dynamics, my principal role is to ensure that our team is constantly pushing those boundaries without outstepping what retailers can bear in terms of cost, time or bandwidth.
Everyone at London Dynamics shares a deep-rooted understanding of the retail sector, how it works and the pressure it’s under today. We are also defining ourselves by being the most fully immersed developer at the very forefront of AR integration. We have just launched but are already at work looking to incorporate new technology into our solution, such as AI and image recognition, to service the most sophisticated online shopping environments.
Who do you admire?
I have always admired Elon Musk for his dogged determination and absolute focus on an ambitious and future-first approach. I have learned how important it is to trust my instincts in helping move retail forward at a global scale.
At my time as head of digital transformation at Ikea, a certain single-mindedness was what drove me to create the company’s first digital strategy and innovation lab. In the end, this team was the one which led our collaboration with Apple to deliver the Ikea’s globally downloaded, award-winning AR app, Ikea Place.
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
Honestly, I would do everything the same way again. I’m really happy with where it has brought me! We are regularly asked, however, what led us to set up shop in London, even to put it in our name.
My answer is that despite the economic and political uncertainties in the country, the UK has a credible claim as one of the largest and most sophisticated retail markets in the world. We are working in a hub of massive opportunity for retailers, and for technologists such as us. With the right talent, infrastructure and a digitally fluent and urban customer base, London can be a global launchpad for the most ambitious and exciting retail experiences in the world. We’re here to make that a reality.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
The biggest challenge for everyone who wants to bring the mainstream to the forefront is understanding how much work is required to encourage people (customers and clients both) to embrace change. A critical lesson for any budding entrepreneur the need to paint a very clear picture for people who are less familiar with your solution, or with less understanding of how far we’ve come.
In our case, there’s an understandable preference among prospects and investors for a safe bets on technology with proven ROI. However, the upside of this is that it offers us a reasonably ‘open net’ to lead and shape the market and help establish a great ‘new normal’ for everyone.