Windsor tech start-up expects 3D furniture imaging to take off
Wednesday, January 10, 2018
The Windsor Star/Sharon Hill
Edwin Padilla was shopping online for a light fixture and figured there must be a better way to visualize it than looking up the dimensions online and struggling with a tape measure in his foyer.
The former commercial pilot thought of augmented technology used in flight simulators and wanted to transfer that technology to help people see what a new couch would look like in their home.
Now Powerball Technologies Inc., the company he started in 2013, is pitching its detailed 3D images of home furnishings, that through augmented reality can be superimposed on the real world, to furniture suppliers across North America and to interior designers. This week members of the tech start-up will be traveling to Atlanta, Dallas and Las Vegas to interest more furniture manufacturers. Powerball Technologies was one of nine Canadian companies chosen by the Canadian Digital Media Network to meet investors and potential customers in San Francisco’s Silicon Valley in February.
Augmented technology is expected to become a $60 billion business by 2020 and the Windsor start-up is ready to take advantage of the growth in the furniture sector, Padilla said.
“There are very few companies that doing this for the furniture industry specifically,” he said Tuesday. “The other big e-commerce and furniture companies such as Wayfair and Amazon are getting into the industry as well but they’re just beginning. They’re playing catch-up actually to the small company out of Windsor.”
That Powerball Technologies team of five full-time employees working out of the Downtown Windsor Business Accelerator creates detailed 3D versions of couches, chairs and other furniture. Customers can get a close-up look from any angle online or use its Og augmented design app on their phone or tablet to make it look like a dining room set is in their kitchen or an outdoor fireplace is warming their back patio. The company is already working with 60 to 70 furniture manufacturers to create 3D images which can be virtually placed in people’s homes by interior designers, the next focus for the company.
More and more people especially Millennials want the selection of buying online but it’s difficult with large items like couches and end tables. The 3D images overcome that problem and he expects them to be in high demand.
Padilla, 43, started Powerball Technologies in January 2013 with $30,000 of his own savings and later attracted $250,000 from WeCan, the Windsor Essex Capital Angel Network of investors. He partnered with the local Red Piston Inc. to develop an app and now has five to 10 employees with some hired on contracts, and revenue between $250,000 to $500,000 a year, he said. He hopes to reach $100 million in revenue in five years.
“Because the industry is growing so fast and because it’s been moving in this direction and because we’re a pioneer in it, we believe we can grow along with the big boys,” he said.
Padilla had flown automotive parts into Windsor and moved here about 10 years ago. “At that time I just thought Windsor was really under-appreciated for the potential. Everybody was gloom and doom at that time and I moved here because I thought it was a great opportunity.”