Q&A with Dave Gausebeck, Cofounder of Matterport

by Y Combinator10/17/2018

We put together a list of the top YC companies by valuation as of October 2018. You can see that list at https://ycombinator.com/topcompanies.

Here’s a Q&A with Dave Gausebeck, Cofounder of Matterport, one of the companies featured on the list.

What does Matterport make/do?

Matterport is an immersive media technology company. We make it easy and cost effective to create digital models of the real world in 3D and to share and experience those spaces anywhere. Matterport’s True3D™ walkthroughs offer an immersive 3D experience of a space including intuitive navigation, beautiful views from any angle, and a unique “dollhouse” perspective to see and understand the whole space at once.

Anyone can use a Matterport Pro2 camera or a third-party 3D camera with our app to quickly capture a space in 3D. Matterport takes all of the images and data and stitches them together to create the 3D space plus videos, floor plans, 360 panoramas, and more. The space can then be experienced in any web browser (or headset), and partners can use our application framework to build custom functionality on top of the 3D content.

How many employees does Matterport have?

We currently have 187 employees across our U.S. locations (Sunnyvale, San Francisco, and Kansas) and our international office in London.

How many founders?

Matterport has two founders: Dave Gausebeck and Matt Bell.

What is your most impressive recent product milestone?

This year Matterport announced that our customers have captured more than one million real world spaces in 3D, and we’ve served more than 500 million 3D virtual tours. As our library of 3D spaces grows, it continues to accelerate and improve our technology and helps us expand even further.

What is the larger impact / societal impact of your product in the space you work within?

There are a lot of industries and situations where people want to communicate about a real-world 3D space, and in the past they’ve been making do with tools that aren’t right for the job — collections of 2D photos, hand measurements and sketches, etc. In some cases where the 3D is important enough, they’d bring in teams with high-end laser scanners and professionals to process the results.

Matterport has made it possible and accessible to communicate about real-world spaces in the same way we intuitively understand them — in actual 3D. In addition to the immersive experience of the space itself, we offer tools like measurements and attaching tags or multimedia content to locations within a space.

We’re already transforming industries that communicate about spaces, from real estate to architecture to insurance and many more. Everyone communicates about spaces to some degree, and we believe that 3D is the best way to do that. A picture is worth a thousand words, and an immersive 3D space is worth a thousand pictures (and it’s a lot easier to understand!).

It’s not hard to understand why we think improving communication is a good thing for the world, but to be more specific: it can help people make better decisions about spaces, it can save a lot of time and unnecessary effort, and it can make experiences accessible to people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to visit in person. It’s also pretty satisfying to bring joy to people through a new and amazing visual experience.

Looking back, what motivated you to start Matterport?

In 2011, the Kinect had just come out and hackers were building tools to get at its raw data. Matt and I looked into what the Kinect was capable of and saw an opportunity to build something that was missing from the world: the ability to capture a space (or object) in 3D as easily as every camera does in 2D.

We spent a few months proving to ourselves that it was possible. Once we decided we really had something, we made the move to bring Matterport to market. Startups always have challenges, but if you have a vision to build something new that will really get used and affect people’s lives, a startup is the way to drive directly towards that goal.

Is what you’re working on now the original idea or did you pivot?

If I were to show my 2011 self what Matterport is doing today, I’d be surprised by a lot of the details, but it would still be clearly recognizable as following our early vision. We’ve certainly made a lot of adjustments over the years, but we didn’t experience anything I’d describe as a “pivot”.

What’s one piece of advice you’d share with a young founder?

“Make something people want” is first and foremost among the things you need to succeed as a startup, but it’s not the only thing. You also need a great team, and you do need to figure out a business model eventually. Making a great product, building and leading an organization, and planning and executing a business model are all very different skills and none of them — at the level you need to succeed — are easy.

You don’t need all those skills yourself, and you shouldn’t get caught up focusing too far in the future, but keep in mind that there are a lot of parts to the journey and think about how you’ll want to deal with them when you get there.


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