21 July 2024, 23:44
By Furniture News May 15, 2019

Cylindo's visionary leader

After founding gaming software house ILP in 2007, Janus Jagd went on to launch Cylindo in 2012. Headquartered in Copenhagen, Cylindo offers automated rendering technology that transforms simple product data into 3D photorealistic imagery, which can be leveraged at every touchpoint of the furniture buyer’s journey, increasing conversion rates and reducing visualisation costs. Furniture News finds out more …

How did you enter the trade?

Seven years ago I was moving into an apartment with my wife. We had plans to renovate the bathroom and buy new furniture, so I was looking for a tool that could help us visualise those ideas. 

As there weren’t any good tools available, I decided to build a 3D model of the apartment, and that worked as an excellent tool for making a big purchase decision. I thought to myself, everyone has this pain, but very few people know how to use advanced 3D modelling applications. That was the birth of the Cylindo 3D Room Planner – an intuitive tool for visualising products in your space.

Since we launched six years ago, I’ve learned a lot about the trade. Most companies are really struggling with product visualisation. With furniture, it’s especially hard to visualise all of your products through photography, given the assembly, logistics, and the many product permutations. We’ve made that process very easy, with our 3D technology that can create photorealistic renders of any product permutation. 

Today, we’re the leading platform for product visualisation globally, with more than two quintillion photorealistic 4K product renders created.

What was your career high point?

Honestly, every new week in Cylindo is. We’re moving at such a rapid pace and constantly generating new wins. It’s an incredible journey to be on – and seeing the business grow, the constant evolution of our technology and the development of my talented team members is such a fulfilling experience. 

Even though we’ve doubled revenue YoY for three years straight and our team numbers more than 100 people now, I still think we’re just getting started. We’re creating an industry standard for how furniture companies are working with 3D visualisation, while helping to deliver a delightful ecommerce experience – but we will eventually take this to other industries.

... and low point?

Having to restructure the entire company early on and change its strategic direction. We actually closed an office, laid off a big part of the team, including most of the management, so it was a tough time. 

You learn most from your failures and hard times, so it was definitely also a valuable experience. We honed in on our vision and, essentially, we were forced to find a product market. But for a few years, it felt like I had the entire weight of the company on my shoulders - and I went on countless hour-long walks to my favourite hilltop in San Francisco, overlooking Golden Gate and Alcatraz, trying to figure it all out.

Describe a typical working day

Early morning is me-time. I’m supercharged in the morning and I tackle the most complex task of the day here – with German techno in my headphones from my #getshitdone playlist on Spotify. The remainder of the day is typically filled with meetings with my direct reports, workshops and external meetings with partners and clients. I especially love talking to clients and prospects to understand what part of our offering is resonating with them, but I also like hearing about what we need to tweak and improve. 

If you had to start over, which career would you pursue?

I dream of writing a novel or a movie manuscript about the conquest of South America. What on earth drove Francisco Pizarro and his 168 men to journey into the unknown in the 1530s, travel across the world, stay on a deserted island for 18 months and eventually face 10,000 Incas in battle? 

There’s also a fairly good chance I’d be an architect - I’m fascinated with the synergy between design and functionality, and how you can positively influence behaviour through great design.

What date on the business calendar do you most look forward to?

I naturally gravitate towards sales, so end-of-quarter crunch time and making sure we hit the sales targets is a period filled with good energy and clear measurements of success/failure. These days, with Cylindo being over 100 people strong, I also prioritise activities where I can learn from my team members - what are some of the challenges they face, and how can I empower them to solve any problems?

What would you most like to change about yourself?

To enjoy the moment and be grateful for what I have now – that is something I’m constantly working on. When you do what I do, it’s easy to get consumed with current business challenges and growth targets. The journey is more important than the destination - and if you’re not enjoying the journey, you’re doing it wrong.

What do you enjoy most about working in the trade?

Well, I’m always in the loop on interior design trends! At home, I’m the one doing the decorating and introducing new furniture to my wife. 

But what I enjoy the most is definitely the opportunity to make a big impact. Many furniture businesses are still early on in their digital transformation journey, and technology like Cylindo’s can help them run their business smarter and better. It’s also a challenge – you have to make sure the technology is easily accessible so the less tech-savvy furniture companies can leverage it.

What is the most important issue affecting your business right now?

The rapid growth of ecommerce. Online sales are growing +10% YoY and in-store sales are stagnant, so improving ecommerce capabilities is top of mind for all of the furniture retailers we talk to. And what’s the most important thing you need to sell your furniture online? Well, it’s being able to visualise it in a compelling way.

What company do you most look up to?

From a company culture perspective, I’d have to say [outdoor clothing company] Patagonia - I really admire how they empower their people to make autonomous decisions and they are impact-driven. On the technology side, I’d probably have to say [Australian enterprise software company] Atlassian, for how they’ve taken the company from $0 to IPO with limited venture capital due to having a strong product and making great long-term decisions.

Leave us with an industry anecdote please …

Oh, where to begin?! I heard an interesting anecdote recently on how a European brand brings new products to market. They manufacture in China and their photo studio is in Europe. Their products typically have hundreds of fabrics. To visualise new products, they have to fly in all the configurations by plane (!) because shipping would take too long. 

We have a US client also manufacturing in China. When they have a product ready on the factory floor, they snap three smartphone images of it, upload them to Cylindo and we render out 360’s of all their permutations. So the first products are ready to be sold in the US way before the first physical product actually hits the ground in the US. 

It’s just two completely different worlds, and, as a tech person, you sometimes forget how the majority of the industry operates, so I think we have a big responsibility in educating the trade about the current and future state of visualisation technology.

This interview featured in the May 2019 issue of Furniture News magazine.

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