VisioPlan offers user-friendly solutions in design planning for private builders: With the help of VR technologies, the start-up from the Technical University of Hamburg (TU Hamburg) overcomes a lack of imagination and creates a realistic sense of space. VisioPlan recently successfully applied for an EXIST grant with the support of Startup Port and Startup Port @ TUHH. We spoke to co-founder Kevin Fechner.
Kevin, could you start by describing your business idea?
Anyone who has ever built, converted or furnished a property knows the problem: it is only during the utilisation phase that you become fully aware of the effect of the floor plan. Planning errors must then be accepted or expensively corrected. We prevent this problem by enabling people to virtually inspect their property before construction begins and to recognise such problems. In doing so, we emphasise ease of use while integrating it into the conventional planning process. The clients only need a floor plan in the original scale, and we do the rest.
How did you come up with this idea?
As part of our studies, we already created 3D models of properties on the PC and then visited them with VR glasses. That laid the foundation for many discussions about other possibilities and finally for our product idea.
In accompanying activities, for example as a working student in a planning office, it became clear to us that architects often have to make a considerable effort to fulfil the ideas of their clients. Many personal conversations are necessary to understand their wishes and needs and to translate them into designs. Despite all efforts, however, it is often the case that clients have difficulty visualising the property on the basis of the floor plan. In response to this challenge, we decided in 2022 to develop software that allows clients to view their designs in virtual reality and adapt them to their needs. After interviews with experts and intensive research, we came to the conclusion that VR is the best technology to offer builders a realistic representation of their planned property and overcome the lack of imagination.
How did you meet your co-founders?
Mathias Worm, Albert Lößner and I met during our bachelor’s degree at the Bauhaus University in Weimar, and we were already thinking about start-up ideas together. When things became more concrete, Maximilian Schmidt, an old friend of mine, joined us and filled the gap in web development perfectly.
How did the name of your company come about?
The name VisioPlan is meant to illustrate that we enable our customers to record their ideas about their property in the planning phase in order to avoid subsequent changes or planning errors and to save resources.
How did you hear about the Startup Port or Startup Port @ TUHH? How could the start-up support help you develop your start-up?
When our start-up idea was formulated, we searched online for ways to implement it and came across the Startup Port. This was still in Covid times, when the offices were much emptier than in previous years, as a start-up advisor told us. That suited us very well, because we were looking for an office to continue working on our idea and eventually apply for the EXIST start-up grant.
On the one hand, the office was the starting point for better cooperation among ourselves, but on the other hand it was also the first confirmation that someone believed in us and our idea. In the weeks and months that followed, we were accompanied in the EXIST application phase by start-up advisor Konstantin Kollar, who was always on hand with helpful tips and coached us in many discussions.
In the meantime, we have been accepted for the EXIST start-up grant and are part of the incubation programme of the Startup Port @ TUHH, through which we can participate in workshops on various start-up-related topics. In addition, the constant exchange with other startups that are in a similar founding phase is always helpful.
In what period do you receive the EXIST start-up grant? When do you start up?
The EXIST start-up grant begins on 01.10.2023 and runs for 12 months: We will probably found a GmbH two months before the end of the grant.
What are your goals until the end of the year? What other funding etc. are you aiming for?
We are using the time of the start-up grant to release a market-ready product. By the end of the year, our primary goal is to develop an alpha version of our product and test it with the first users. At the end of the EXIST start-up scholarship, our first product should be available for purchase so that we can generate initial sales and continue to grow from that point on. To this end, we are also looking for a strategic business angel. From our point of view, an application for the InnoRampUp funding programme is also conceivable in order to master the challenge of market entry. The application phase for ventures and further funding is planned for the period from April to September 2024.