Think of AVO Insights as an app that takes the everyday and gives it some spunk. Some pizzazz. In today’s lingo, augmented reality, or AR, a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on the user’s real-world view. What AR does is gives brands a new way to engage with customers.
But simply being used as an AR app isn’t enough for this Charlotte start up. AVO Insights wants to be the AR app.
“Our big goal is to be the centralized app for augmented reality,” said Bradley Smith, founder of AVO Insights.
The possibilities are huge. Using the app at a conference, an attendee could unlock supplemental materials to enhance their learning and takeaways form the event. Scanning the program, users could open videos about the presenters or additional presentations from the keynote speaker.
Organizations are already using AVO’s technology, including at a recent art gallery opening that enhanced attendees’ experience by supplementing artwork with videos of the artist talking about the piece’s meaning and inspiration.
In January, AVO Insights will be utilized at the Seed the South event. Each founder will have their elevator pitch filmed and linked to the pamphlet through the app, offering an enhanced view of the experience.
“Investors won’t have to take home dozens of pages of materials,” Smith said. “They can look back digitally at everything they saw physically.”
Smith said he always had the drive to be an entrepreneur, but sometimes struggled to find his direction. After graduating from high school, flew to Australia and lived on his brother’s couch (his brother was attending university there at the time). He traveled throughout New Zealand, and eventually made his way home, where he was dealt an ultimatum by his parents: get out of the house or do something.
He joined the Air Force but quickly realized it wasn’t the path for him. What began as an escape plan quickly turned into his entrepreneurial dream.
“I always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I had it in my blood, but I didn’t know how to create a product,” Smith explained. “When I learned how to code I knew I could create my own product and have something to sell to people. I can create my own product.”
Smith taught himself programming, building applications and websites in his spare time. Soon, he was interning with an ad agency in Tucson, Ariz., during the day while working at the Air Force at night.
“I was hating life, but I knew I needed the experience and referrals,” Smith said.
He moved to Charlotte with the intent to start his own ad agency, but quickly realized that this was again a false start. Seeing the growth and potential in the AR/VR world, he dove in.
The venture has had its share of pivots and pitfalls. Smith’s main lesson: listen to the market.
“The number one thing I would tell anybody is put your product into the market,” he said. “There are things I was prepared to start developing because I thought it had to be there for people to want to engage with the app. Turns out, it didn’t. I would have wasted four months developing something the market didn’t want.”
While they originally envisioned their primary clients being in real estate—showing video walk-throughs of homes through AVO’s app—this didn’t turn out to be the case. They found their best clients are those who are creating experiences where their customers are taking time to engage—museums, art galleries, exhibitions, and trade shows.
Their growth has been fast-paced, and people seem to be adopting the new technology quickly. While they haven’t taken on any funding, they expect they will be generating enough revenue to fund their own expansion. The end goal is to be a household name.
“You can experience AVO in a museum, but you should also be able to experience it at a restaurant with the chef giving you a special message. You’ll see it on a directional sign when you’re trying to get home,” Smith said. “Anything related to AR, you know to go to AVO.”