Russian-Finnish duo Marina Smirnova and Ida Broms started innovative design company Capture Design out of a shared love for 3D modelling.
It all started with a lunch. Smirnova and Broms were responsible for 3D modelling and rendering at the same architectural office in Helsinki when a lunch discussion evolved into a business idea. Six months later, in June 2014, Capture Design opened.
— Last March we went to a construction trade fair to try out our ideas and only had some very simple printed materials with us. People were very excited and we got our first customers right there and then. That really validated our plans to start a company, Smirnova says.
What Capture Design offers is spatial design concepts, interior and exterior renderings and product and catalogue visualisations. The company specialises in creating photorealistic 3D renderings through a combination of market analysis, artistic education and digital technology. It is this mix of services which the co-founders see as their competitive advantage.
— We combine interior design and digital technology in a way that the end result looks like a real photo. People can’t usually differentiate between a photo and our 3D rendering. Since we use a freelance network we can offer high-quality services with an affordable price, Smirnova explains.
— Let’s say we have a customer who is building a house and wants to market it. We’ll do the whole interior design concept and also create all marketing materials for the house. We offer a full design package and that is rare in Finland, Broms continues .
For Capture Design today’s work environment means working over country borders. The founders are based in Helsinki, their 3D artist lives in Thailand and the company works closely with other freelance 3D artists in Russia.
They believe that skills and sharing a common language matter more than being in the same country.
— First we will focus on Finland and build a well-known brand here. But in the next 3 to 5 years we would like to grow into a 10 people design studio and expand to Russia and then other Scandinavian countries, says Broms.
Broms and Smirnova emphasise that the market for interior design and 3D renderings varies by country. In Finland they work almost solely with companies and 3D rendering is still deemed expensive while in Russia the market is more focused on B2C.
— It’s very common for a private person in Russia to order interior design with 3D renderings. They want to see in detail how their interiors would look and are ready to pay for that, explains Smirnova.
— We would like to create that kind of trend in Finland as well.
At home in Helsinki
With both Finnish and Russian founders the question where to base Capture Design could have proved to be a difficult one, but Smirnova says it was an easy decision to launch in Helsinki.
— Helsinki is a very good place for startups. There is a lot of support and opportunities. I studied in Aalto university and they really encouraged entrepreneurship. I’m also very grateful that as a student from Russia I was able to start my own company here, Smirnova says.
One of the company’s advisors has been Will Cardwell from the Aalto Ventures Program, who sees Capture Design as an excellent example of a company that leverages both Russian and Finnish expertise in a highly visual way. For him attracting international talent is vital for Finland’s future success.
— Finland is emerging quickly as one of the five leading hubs in Europe for startups. We hope that by creating an excellent environment for highly skilled newcomers from Russia and the rest of the world, we will rise to the top of the list, Cardwell says.
Broms and Smirnova echo this sentiment and want to encourage others to try their wings in entrepreneurialism.
— You have to believe in your idea and just go and do it. Don’t spend too much time thinking about the risks. Otherwise you’ll never do it, comments Broms.
— Make sure your family or partner is okay with you starting a business because it’s quite a process. You are busy all the time and crazy thinking of your company and not all relationships can take it. But it is totally worth it, Smirnova concludes.
Text by Eeva Haaramo
Article published in cooperation with Good News from Finland.