AI-based startups are on a roll. In CEE, Estonia-based Alpha AR, a deep tech solution using AI to make 3D scalable for AR/VR, NFTs, and marketing, took home the big prize (€350K) at How to Web’s 2021 Spotlight competition. The investment prize is in the form of a convertible note, syndicated by TechAngels, SeedBlink, Growceanu, GapMinder Venture Partners, RocaX, Simple Capital and Transylvania Angels Network.
During the pitch day on November 24th, Alpha AR was elected as the winner out of 10 participants. Two other AI-based startups, CodeWell AI, an AI chatbot solution from North Macedonia, and RepsMate, a platform that helps businesses analyze customer calls based in Romania, ranked 2nd and 3rd, respectively.
Launched in 2011, the Spotlight competition has been supporting Central and Eastern European early-stage technology startups to connect with potential investors and experts, encouraging the growth of the startup ecosystem in this part of Europe, said Bogdan Iordache, founder of How to Web.
In the program, startups benefited from one-on-one meetings with technology industry leaders, including Luciana Lixandru (Sequoia), Nicolas Dessaigne (Y Combinator), Irina Haivas (Atomico), Carlos Espinal (Seedcamp), Andrei Brasoveanu (Accel), Hristo Borisov (Payhawk), and investment funds, such as EarlyBird Venture Capital, Speedinvest, LAUNCHub Ventures, Market One Capital, Eleven Ventures, eMAG Ventures, and Flashpoint Capital.
From a 2D image to a 3D model within minutes
Alpha AR was co-founded in 2018 by Madis Alesmaa (CEO) and Rait-Eino Laarmann (COO), two serial entrepreneurs in the software and gaming industries. The two Estonian co-founders have a long history of collaborating in launching other companies together.
“Alpha AR started with the realization that companies don’t have an effective way of creating 3D content, which can be used in augmented reality and gaming industry applications. Especially right now when we are seeing a huge movement towards the web 3.0 and virtual metaverse, creation of digital twins is becoming more important,” Madis Alesmaa tells The Recursive.
At the roots, the startup presents a solution to one of the biggest challenges in VR and AR, as well as the 3D game industry: creating 3D models. This is usually a consuming, as well as expensive process, requiring manual work. Alpha AR accomplishes this automatically and within minutes, using an AI-based deep tech solution.
“Our mission is to be the leader who helps to bring augmented reality into masses. We are working diligently to become the leading 3D creation platform by making 3D affordable and scalable,” says Madis Alesmaa on social networks.
Prior to winning Spotlight 2021, Alpha AR was singled out as one of the AI-based CEE Startups Of The Month by Vestbee. With the new capital, the company plans to continue its global growth and deliver on the promise of building a powerful 3D technology.
“Last year alone, we brought significant changes to the industry, such as forming partnership agreements with several leading e-commerce, augmented reality and Metaverse platforms. Our mission is to continue to be a leading force behind web 3.0,” the company CEO tells us.
Other startups in the CEE region using AI include DRUID.AI, which creates intelligent virtual assistants for companies to increase the efficiency and quality of customer service and employee performance. The Romanian startup raised a €2M Series A investment at the beginning of 2021 to expand internationally.
Another example is Romania-based Humans. The startup is developing an all-in-one platform for AI-based creation and governance with an initial focus on synthetic media, or “digital genomes”, incorporating elements such as human voice, image, and gestures. Humans recently raised €7.6 million through the private sale of cryptocurrency.