Seasoned Venture Capitalist Joins AR Startup WaveOptics as CFO
WaveOptics, the British augmented reality startup and one of the AR pioneers of the industry in the UK has just hired seasoned venture capitalist Robert Bahns of IP Group as its chief financial officer. The AR startup is currently proceeding with plans to increase production and reduce the prices of its smartglasses to under $600.
In December 2018, it raised $26 million in a first stage of Series C funding from investors such as Optimas Capital Partners, IP Group, Octopus Ventures, Goertek, Gobi Ventures and Robert Bosch Venture Capital. The funding was aimed at boosting the company’s manufacturing capabilities and financing its R&D on shrinking the form factor of the waveguide displays. WaveOptics faces increasing competition from Apple’s Akonia Holographics which already specializes in manufacturing waveguide displays. The drive is currently on by companies in the AR space to develop something that mainstream customers will use as a replacement for their smartphones.
This is not Mr. Bahns first encounter with WaveOptics. He has previously invested in the startup when he was a technology partner at the IP Group, which has a stake in the British AR startup. In his previous engagement in 2015, he had led the Series A funding round for WaveOptics while at Touchstone Innovations which was later acquired and absorbed into the IP Group.
WaveOptics has been running without a CFO since August last year when its chief financial officer Jon Oates joined the cybersecurity startup RazorSecure.
As the CFO, Mr. Bahns will be a key member of the company’s executive team as the companies continues to diversify its portfolio and position its business globally to leverage the opportunities presented by the fast growing AR market.
By 2023, the global augmented reality market is expected to be worth $23 billion according to data by Mordor Intelligence. The space has also seen a lot of dynamism in the recent years with numerous startups coming up and a number of products released into the market.
In spite of the increasing innovation and competition in the niche, the prices of augmented reality products still remain relatively high with many costing north of $1,000 per device.
WaveOptics manufactures components for waveguides for the augmented reality devices and hopes to further innovate and bring the prices down to slightly below $600. The company hopes to realize this through the economies of scale by simply producing more components than its competitors using its manufacturing technique which involves printing of the nano-structures directly onto the optical glass.
WaveOptics has also recently partnered with various businesses in order to help it further streamline the cost of production. During the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (CES 2019), WaveOptics also announced that it entered into two new strategic agreements with manufacturers in Taipei, which is in addition to its deals with Chinese and American manufacturers.
WaveOptics aims to become the key supplier of optical components for creating smartglasses and wearables. The company’s technology has been designed for use in immersive augmented reality experiences in consumer markets along with in industrial enterprises. The company has also built an impressive manufacturing scalability and visual performance for its products that is hard to match in the industry. It is currently the world’s leading manufacturer of diffractive waveguides which are the key optical components used in wearable augmented reality devices.
WaveOptics has been trading since 2014 and is headquartered in the UK with international offices situated in both Asia and the US. The company currently employees 60 people globally and has established itself as the world’s leading pioneer in waveguide technology. It has also built strong AR credentials and experience over the years. To date, Waveguide has raised $47 million from multiple investors.