We caught up with Konstantina Psoma, Co-founder & CEO at Kaedim, as part of ‘Product | People | Potential’. Kaedim is a platform that makes high fidelity digital 3D asset creation at scale accessible to everyone. Their AI powered toolkit dramatically reduces the time and cost of production and enables more creators to be involved in the construction of our 3D future.
The purpose of article series ‘Product | People | Potential’ is to feature and showcase the very best UK start-ups with great potential, truly inspiring businesses that are shaking up their sector. We capture and share the stories behind the name. We collate authentic peer to peer real-talk, while celebrating the growth and success thus far and gather a glimpse of what’s ahead.
Konstantina: My name is Konstantina and I am the Co-founder and CEO of Kaedim. At Kaedim, we are building AI powered tools for the next generation of creators. We are focussing on 3D experiences and we are currently fundraising. We built our first technology over the summer and are in the process of building our MVP and want to start hiring people as soon as we get funding.
What makes us unique is that currently, there are no AI tools that bridge the gap between 2D and 3D. At Kaedim we have managed to enable people to input a 2D image, and in less than 3 seconds, give them an output of a bunch of 3D models from which they can choose to then polish.
Konstantina: My Co-founder and I have a lot of experience building 3D models and experiences. Doing it over and over, we realised how repetitive the process is. Thinking of video games in that context, there are scenes with thousands of objects inside. With AAA Games having so many hours of gameplay, we were thinking about how all those objects are getting generated and produced – this must take a huge amount of time and money. So, having done some research from looking at companies in the UK, between 25% and 60% of the total cost of game production goes into 3D modelling, which to us is extreme.
This is where having the computer science background got us thinking that AI is really good at taking something repetitive for humans and very labour intensive and accelerating it.
We start with a 2D image which is the input that the 3D Designers already get and give them an output which is almost there, making artists more productive by automating the boring parts. Designers make the basic shape and then, if it’s not there, they start from scratch, but if you can do the iterations within a couple of seconds multiple times, then it saves a huge amount of time and you have a basic shape. You can then add the real art to it i.e. the details and polishing. That is what we want to do. Give 3D artists more time to do the artistic stuff and accelerate the iteration of the process.
Konstantina: In the age of COVID it is even harder than it would have been otherwise. My Co-founder and I have been working remotely since March, which is more than 6 months now. This itself has its own challenges and it is very different than being on the same desk next to someone and collaborating. We had an intern during the summer, who came and left, and we never met them in person which was weird.
The key thing for us was to create some dedicated time for the team to come together and talk about non-work-related things. So, we had a ‘happy hour’ every week, 1 hour where we talked about ourselves. We created a Minecraft server that we played together and started interacting outside of work. People miss the actual human contact of getting to know one another, getting to know about each other’s lives.
We feel that the social side is very important. Roman (my Co-founder) and I think that even if we moved back into an office environment with people coming in, we would like our team to have the option to work from home, maybe for a couple of days a week, and we want this to be a balance that they can decide on. Some people have the type of work where the home environment is better for them, just because they want a quieter environment. On the other hand, there are jobs where you have to continuously talk to people and get feedback, this is where I think a home-working-environment is not ideal.
In terms of scaling and growing, we had a lot of challenges in that too. Currently, we are trying to hire people. Our problem, which I know isn’t specific to us, is as we haven’t fundraised, we don’t know the exact date we can offer someone a contract.
We find ourselves getting to know people that are interesting, but they are looking for an opportunity now and we can’t really say when we can offer them to start working, which is difficult for us. We have been through the process of getting to know people and then missing out on them.
Start-ups often find themselves in a similar situation, wanting to hire people with being limited by fundraising. My top tip would be to look for people who are interested in what you do, very interested, and believe in the vision of the company. In this way, it is something very attractive to them. Be honest from the first interview or meeting that the start-up is in the situation that it is and that you can’t promise something on a strict time scale and are still figuring things out. I think if you are honest and find people who really believe in you, then these people will stay in touch and you start having a ‘following crowd’ of people who want to work with you. Then continuously keep them in the loop. That is how we are trying to deal with it.
Konstantina: At our stage, we are trying to achieve product market fit and we are trying to do that in a couple of ways. For us, feedback and iteration are very important. We also have been through a couple of pivots so far.
We’re at a very early stage and we are trying to reach out to people who experience the problem that we have identified. 3D assets are expensive and the production process is very labour intensive, so that’s the problem, and we are trying to reach out to those people who are living with this problem and talk to them about our solution. What would it be like, what would it look like, how would it feel, considering the UX/UI for example? Showing them our ideas and getting their feedback on them.
So as a part of that, we created a prototype during Easter which we tested with people at Aardman Animations and some other local companies in the Bristol VR Lab, with the goal of the prototype getting to understand how people think about what we’re making without actually spending money on it. We are very much following the methodology of the ‘lean startup’, which means that we don’t spend money on building something that no one wants. So, you first have to test your thoughts, you first have to make a prototype for people and then see what they think. Get their feedback and then start to build it and the technology, having in mind that these are the people who are going to be using it. These people have been working in the industry for years, even decades. They really know what they want to be better and what they want to be accelerated.
For us, this is very important and we have been trying to get as many partners as possible. We want to work with those people and give them our technology demos and MVP versions when they’re ready and collaborate with them to give us feedback. We then do small pivots along the way and make the next version. This is important for us, creating something that is customer-centric and something that, when released to the public, creators will love.
For us, it’s all about ‘lean’ and talking to the companies first. Making sure you are addressing a problem and making sure you are making something that will be loved. You don’t want to make an energy pill, rather something more like a painkiller that they can’t live without and not just a nice to have.
Konstantina: I think the main challenge for creating something with big potential is finding those partners worldwide to collaborate with us. This is a big ask, because one of our main targets are gaming companies. Of course, we also have people interested from film, marketing, AR/VR, all those industries that use 3D assets in bulk.
When trying to approach those big partners, like Aardman Animations, you have to realise the processes are very long and slow. Those are big companies that have a lot of streams running at the same time and usually communications last a minimum of 12 months.
I think you have to be prepared to pitch your product and follow a sales process to get clients. It’s the same to get partners. We aren’t looking to get them to pay us yet, we are just trying to get them to test our product. It is like a sales process because they are investing their time, so you have to assure them that this is something that will be an advantage for them and by helping us, they are actually helping us make the product more aligned with their needs.
Another thing that I can add to Kaedim’s potential is the high amount of the funding which we are now trying to achieve. After chatting with several potential partners, we realised that the scope of the opportunity is significantly greater than we initially thought.
We want to make a big impact and I think having a high fundraise goal is necessary to capture the potential value of the company. We want to make something with great potential, and we want to be the best platform for creating 3D assets.
Konstantina: Investment is difficult at the best of times and everyone is even more risk-averse at the moment. People don’t want to invest money when there is a huge crisis knocking at our door.
From my experience, every angel or VC is going to want something different. Someone is going to want a strong marketing team or a lot of partners or very experienced founders. A very common trap that people fall into is trying to please everyone, because this is impossible. You cannot have everything VCs might possibly want.
What we do, and I think this is my piece of advice, is to consult with your advisors, define your strategy, and then stick with it. Do not try to please everyone along the way. For example, if someone wants a lot of partners, don’t drop everything and start looking for partners. State your way of thinking and make it clear why you don’t currently need the thing they think is important.
I think if you do that and have a clear path and strategy, the time will come where you find someone who says “wow, take my money, I like your vision and I believe in your plan and strategy” this is where everything will fall into place. The thing is that this won’t be your first or second try. It might be your 100th try, the one when you find someone that truly understands the opportunity and truly believes in the vision. They believe that you are providing a painkiller, believe in the team, they like the strategy and want to see the same future happening.
Thank you for sharing!