Chat rooms and digital presentations have been around for a while, but there wasn't a way to capture discussions and collate comments and threads seamlessly within a visual context that was useful for organisers - Michael Kohn, Co-founder of Stickyworld
Stickyworld's concept was invented by Slider Studio, a company founded by architects Michael Kohn and Renee Puusepp in 2006 to develop computational design software. Their first major software project, YouCanPlan, was a 3D public consultation technology forBirmingham City Council's regeneration team.
It was a significant moment in two ways.
"On the train to the public launch I read about Google launchingStreetView, which challenged the need for much of what you could build in YouCanPlan. At the time I felt totally deflated," Michael said.
On the upside, when a resident requested a way to stick a Post-it note with comments directly on the digital models, the concept of Stickyworld was born. Its commercial potential was immediately apparent to Michael.
"Chat rooms and digital presentations have been around for a while, but there wasn't a way to capture discussions and collate comments and threads seamlessly within a visual context that was useful for organisers," Michael added.
Click to stick
Stickyworld enables organisations to present a range of content, including maps, plans, PDFs, videos and 360° panoramics, ask engaging questions about this content and invite people to feed back their ideas and comments in an organised way that they can subsequently analyse and report on.
People simply ‘click to stick' a comment directly on the visual content, in similar way to sticking Post-it notes," he explained.
However, like many budding entrepreneurs, Michael faced the challenge of bridging the gap between a great idea and a viable business proposition.
"We believed in the idea and even attracted some angel funding, but since we were still developing the software and exploring its capabilities, it was too early to attract the interest of venture capitalists.
"Technology Strategy Board funding and support gave us space to find out what Stickyworld really was, what it could do, and whose problems it really solved. We couldn't have developed Stickyworld Ltd as a business without it.
Technology Strategy Board funding and support gave us space to find out what Stickyworld really was, what it could do, and whose problems it really solved. We couldn't have developed Stickyworld Ltd as a business without it -Michael Kohn
"The funding created projects that made us engage with end-users and customers, and better define our value to those markets. It even helped us identify new markets we hadn't even thought of. As a result, we're getting sign-ups from all over the world, and a steady flow of customers converting from a free trial to paying for professional subscriptions," Michael commented.
In 2008, Slider and five partner organisations received a grant of £150k towards developing a beta release of Stickyworld as virtual environment software for 3D architectural design collaboration. Slider received £112k, and contributed almost £79k toward project costs of just over £300k.
Development of a prototype began in 2009 and in 2010 Stickyworld Ltd was spun off with angel investment as an independent business, with Lead Developer Chris McDonald as the first employee. The relationship with the Technology Strategy Board continued in a series of sequential development projects.
Slider was awarded further funding of just over £97k for another collaborative research and development project in 2010 called YouCaretaker, focused on staff engagement in the workplace to drive down energy costs. This project funded development of new tools and supporting technology on the Stickyworld platform, aimed at facilities management teams.