Hololink is democratising augmented reality creation with a browser-based platform
The foundation of Hololink was based on a shared vision of making AR creation more accessible. Today, Hololink is used in over 60 countries around the world. In this piece, Co-founder and CEO Lucas Nygaard shares how he and his co-founder, Dennis Christensen, built this Danish createch company,and how Hololink makes it easy for users to leverage augmented reality.
We’re empowering people to create interactive augmented reality experiences
“After organising the CopenX conference, meetups and hackathons for 2,5 years, I saw a lot of big "one-off" AR experiences and met a vibrant community of creators. Unfortunately, these experiences rarely made it past power-points and the ones that did were mostly just one trick ponies. AR just wasn't a medium that businesses had in their day-to-day creative toolbox. My co-founder Dennis Christensen had made a lot of AR apps for museums and he realised that apps weren't a good container for AR experiences because they were often too short to justify the user downloading an app. In order for this medium to make a difference, it needs to become truly accessible to both creators and consumers, and eventually, that led us to build Hololink.”
“Hololink enables you to create anything you can imagine within AR. It is a complete solution for prototyping, testing and launching interactive browser-based webAR experiences in a collaborative way. With Hololink, the iteration cycles become faster than ever, requiring no coding or technical skills. Our mission is to make the AR medium as accessible as videos and PowerPoints starting with the education and advertising sectors.”
What Canva and WordPress are doing for 2D design and websites, Hololink is doing for the augmented reality medium
“At Hololink, we’ve looked at the best elements from interfaces that people already love, like Canva, Figma and Wix, and adapted them to enable our users to do something they would otherwise never have dreamt of being able to do - create interactive AR experiences. With our solution, primary school students are presenting their work with SDG’s in AR engaging friends, classmates and teachers - something their parents would never have imagined possible. Designers can create fully interactive prototypes of campaigns, impressing their clients without the large budgets required to hire specialised developers. We are bringing the creative potential of AR to the people and enabling AR to be a true mass medium.”
“The way we differentiate from Unity, 8th Wall, Lens Studio and Spark AR is by being completely browser-based. This means no code and no apps. By being browser-based, we can enable creators to collaborate without friction. Additionally, you can preview on any smartphone and publish with just one click."
Building a moonshot type of company in a young ecosystem
“We started working on Hololink in 2019 and the first year, we both kept our full-time jobs and worked in a five-foot container on Amager. While Dennis built the prototypes, I think I talked to 100+ marketing agencies, educators, museums, communications departments and more. During this first year, we were mostly bootstrapped but got a grant from the Danish Innovation Fund, which allowed us both to leave our full-time jobs only 6 months after we started the company. Getting that grant was a huge game-changer for us. After spending most of my savings on buying a ticket and a booth for WebSummit in 2019, I met Hilla Ovil Brenner, the managing director of Techstars Tel Aviv. They became Hololink’s very first investor in March 2020, and with Techstars onboard, our second investor, the American business angel Greg Moga, decided to invest alongside Techstars. As far as we know, we were the only Danish company to raise money in March 2020 which was the month that Denmark closed down due to Covid-19.”
“However, back then it was difficult to build Hololink because the mindset of many investors and stakeholders wasn't ready. Luckily this is changing fast with many impressive exits in the ecosystem, just in Hololink’s short lifetime. Today the ecosystem is much more mature.”
The Danish ecosystem has been good to us
“Denmark has a big support system around startups and generally there is goodwill around entrepreneurship, which opens the doors to many opportunities. From Innovation Fund Denmark who makes startups like ours possible, before the business angels and VC’s are interested, to organisations like Digital Hub Denmark that enable startups to access worldwide markets.”
“In terms of the access to talent, Denmark is blessed with great universities and a large talent pool and we’ve been fortunate to find an amazing team of people who fit together both competency and skill-wise.”
Mixing the physical and the digital world
“The idea of a metaverse where our digital lives begin to merge with the real world is currently getting a foothold across the tech industry. Facebook even changed their company name to Meta to signal their commitment. But this connection between digital content and a physical context that augmented reality enables, has the potential to become more than just a big-tech playground. It’ll be the next mass medium that combines 3D, interactivity and physical context. With Hololink, creating this medium will be possible for all, from primary school students, to small advertising agencies and accelerate the exploration of the AR medium for all."