AR START-UP DENT REALITY SECURES £2.5M ($3.4M) IN FUNDING TO BUILD THE DIGITAL LAYER FOR THE PHYSICAL WORLD
Proptech venture capital (VC) firm Pi Labs led the seed round with participation from Sugar Capital, 7percent Ventures and several high-profile angel investors
- Dent Reality is helping every business to serve their customers on a one-to-one basis, with Augmented Reality (AR) guidance and information to supercharge their experience;
- Major UK retailer Marks & Spencer is currently trialling Dent Reality’s technology at Westfield London to create a digital shopping experience at its physical store;
- The announcement adds weight to the trend that the metaverse will blend the virtual and real worlds together, for the benefit of businesses and consumers.
LONDON, 23 NOVEMBER 2021 – Dent Reality, the London-based start-up behind a pioneering AR platform, today announced that it has raised £2.5m ($3.4m) in funding to expand its pioneering work across the retail sector.
The funding round was led by Europe’s most active proptech VC, Pi Labs, with participation from Silicon Valley-based commerce experts Sugar Capital and deep tech specialists 7Percent Ventures – one of the first backers of Oculus VR – alongside several notable angel investors.
With the funding, the company will invest in its own teams and services to accelerate the rate at which they bring businesses into the metaverse. The team will expand to new stores and retailers, and open up the platform to new markets.
Dent Reality runs an all-in-one platform that provides an accurate indoor positioning system, a digital map, and a seamless user experience that uses AR for frictionless navigation. Its mapping technology can quickly map a space and keep it up to date with useful information, such as where grocery items are located in a supermarket, and provides AR prompts for in-store navigation via a mobile app. All of these technologies operate within a complex environment where there may be 40,000 items in a typical location, and thousands of locations per retailer. For example, typing gluten-free bread into an integrated app would show the directions towards the item. Combined, it enriches the shopping experience of visitors by blending digital technologies with real-world applications, providing useful contextual information with seamless delivery.
The Dent Reality team has been working with Marks & Spencer, a major UK retailer, to run tests of the technology at its Westfield London store in White City. The app helps shoppers find every item on their list, with real-time guidance and information to supercharge their experience. The potential of the technology is extensive, and can be applied to campuses, airports, shopping centres, and museums, for example. Dent Reality’s waiting list currently includes hundreds of large organisations across a diverse range of different sectors.
The investment comes at a time when companies like Meta and Microsoft are building their own visions for the metaverse. Dent Reality believes that the metaverse will not be a separate virtual world, but an integrated reality where the virtual and real blend together, providing contextual information that enriches real-world interactions.
Dent Reality was co-founded by location-based technology pioneer Andrew Hart and strategy and operations expert Ben Rosenbaum. Hart previously demonstrated AR navigation for the first time and developed some of the most popular applications on Apple’s AR platform. The duo started Dent Reality in 2019, to help physical businesses supercharge their experiences, enriching real-world actions via digital technologies. Since then, the company has made several technology breakthroughs, assembled an all-star team and earned the backing of some of the most prominent investors in technology and retail.
Key individuals who invested in this seed round include Paul Forster and Rony Kahan, the co-founders of Indeed.com; Esteban Ordano, the founder of crypto/VR platform Decentraland; Matt Hackett, ex-VP Engineering at Tumblr; and Omid Ashtari, the ex-President of Citymapper.
Commenting on the announcement, Dent Reality co-founder Andrew Hart said:
“Our vision is that every physical space will become digitally connected, enabling an entirely new type of interaction with the world around us. These ‘smart spaces’ will unlock rich information and transform billions of daily interactions for shoppers and retailers. Right now, the biggest players in tech are working on building next-generation augmented reality wearables, and we’re building the killer consumer use-cases for this transformative technology. In the future, providing a frictionless digital experience in a physical location will become as essential for every business as having a website is today.”
Faisal Butt, CEO and founder of Pi Labs, said:
“Consumer habits and retail operations have been transforming for a number of years, but the past 20 months have turbocharged the necessity for businesses to create a digital layer for their spaces. Integrating physical environments with real-time digital information will prove to be a key factor in driving footfall for physical retailers as it creates an immersive personalised experience. As consumers increasingly adopt various augmented reality experiences, we believe Dent Reality’s technology will become a crucial customer engagement tool as it unlocks that essential solution which the industry can no longer afford to ignore as they compete with pure-play online retailers.”
Brian Sugar, founder and partner at Sugar Capital, states:
“Dent Reality’s technology has the potential to revolutionise billions of real-world interactions, making the world a much more informative, convenient and engaging place for everyone. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the way humans engage with physical spaces of all types will radically change as technology moves beyond the screen. Dent Reality’s team of AR pioneers are already shaping this future and we can’t wait to see how they transform the world of commerce, customer experience and what it means to truly digitise a physical location.”
Ivailo Jordanov, partner at 7percent Ventures, states:
“From the first time that I experienced the Dent Reality app, I knew that this is the future of how people will navigate physical spaces. What the team is building is in the exact transformative category that we aim to support at 7percent Ventures and we are excited to be backing the team on this journey.”
A short video explaining more about Dent Reality’s groundbreaking technology can be viewed here.
Press contact for Dent Reality:
Andrew Hart, Dent Reality
Press contact for Pi Labs:
Neel Bose, FTI Consulting
Investors of the funding round:
- Pi Labs
With participation from:
- Sugar Capital
- 7percent Ventures
Angel investors/micro funds:
- Paul Forster and Rony Kahan, Indeed.com co-founders
- Omid Ashtari, ex-president of Citymapper
- Esteban Odano, founder of leading crypto/VR platform Decentraland
- Furqan Rhydan, ex-CTO at Bebo and AppLovin
- Mike Robinson, ex-EVP of Digital at Macy’s
- Jovono LP (led by Evan Zimmerman)
About Dent Reality
Dent Reality is building the digital layer for the physical world, enabling every business to serve their customers on a one-to-one basis, with guidance and information to supercharge their experience. Based in London, it is a rapidly growing team that has spent years building world-leading mapping, positioning and AR products.
About Pi Labs
Founded in 2014, Pi Labs was the first venture capital firm in Europe to exclusively invest in proptech companies. The company positions itself as a bridge between traditional real estate companies and proptech start-ups across Europe. Pi Labs is often the first institutional investor and invests in companies from pre-Seed to Series A, with follow-on investments in later-stage rounds. Pi Labs has built a portfolio of over 55 proptech companies across UK and Europe, making the company the most active investor in proptech start-ups in Europe.
Pi Labs has successfully executed two funds, Fund I (2015) and Fund II (2017). It is in the process of raising its third fund – which already includes well-renowned investors such as GPE and Patrizia – to provide access to cutting edge proptech start-ups in Europe for institutional investors from the US and around the world. Pi Labs’ investment in Dent Reality reflects its growing global co-investor base, having recently announced Irish multi-family office Elkstone Partners, US institutional investor Gaedeke and Swedish investment firm Europi, amongst others, as LPs in its third institutional fund. Earlier this year, Pi Labs also co-invested alongside former Amazon executive Jeff Wilke and US VCs TenOneTen Ventures and Matchstick in warehouse management platform Fulfilld’s $2.5 million seed round.
About 7Percent Ventures
Ex-founders turned VCs, 7percent Ventures invests in early stage transformative and deep-tech start-ups and teams with moonshot ambitions.
About Sugar Capital
Sugar Capital invests in the brands and technology that power the future of commerce. Founded in 2020, they’re based in California, USA.