The company Lightrig GmbH develops a software that allows its users to manipulate the lighting of virtual objects in visualisation and animation by means of comfortable inputs. It is used especially in film, TV and media production. Not only does it facilitate the consistent, credible lighting of virtual objects, it also helps implement design specifications in a harmonious manner. We have interviewed the Lightrig team on their idea, the foundation of their company and their future perspective.
What does your company stand for?
Lightrig GmbH develops software for the artistic manipulation of physical light transport. In other words: we help artists in film and animation studios to understand and influence the complex computer simulations used for creating images better and more creatively. We are building a bridge between technicians and artists.
The Lightrig team (left to right): Thorsten-Walther Schmidt, Anton S. Kaplanyan, Carsten Dachsbacher, Timur Davidenko
Where and how did you get this brilliant idea?
Their idea was born at the Institute for Visualisation and Data Analysis (Institut für Visualisierung und Datenanalyse) at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), supervised by Carsten Dachsbacher. It was inspired by Anton Kaplanyan. Having already gained valuable industry experience before embarking on his doctoral studies, he recognised the concrete applications of this ground-breaking research at the Institute of Industry.
How did your founding team come together?
Three of the founders already knew each other from their joint work at KIT. The fourth member of the team was recruited from one of the other founders’ networks.
What would you say are the benefits of being your own boss?
Independence, autonomy, control, efficiency
What do you think are the properties that one should have to be a successful entrepreneur?
Autonomy, readiness to assume risks, durability, confidence, good network, willingness to do unpleasant tasks, eagerness and ability to learn, calmness, tolerance of faults
What would you term as the hurdles on the way to a successful business? Where did you get support?
The transition from customer interest to investment is not easy. Many can appreciate an idea, only few are willing to pay for it. Negotiations with large, experienced companies are frequently tough.
The project was launched in late 2013 as part of the research activities carried out at IVD. In 2014, we received funding from the Helmholtz Enterprise programme via KIT and the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres.
How did you deal with the large workloads during start-up?
For many tasks, we just have to close our eyes and hope for the best. Start-ups are not for everyone; commitment and personal responsibility help us stay motivated.
Do you have any advice for other young entrepreneurs?
Heterogeneous teams (from different backgrounds and with different skills) cooperate more effectively. Independence should be achieved early and safeguarded. It is important to have ambitious targets while focussing on tasks that create actual value. Finally, a good network (founders and customers) is crucial.