South East Creatives: The Success Stories – Holograph
Challenging the conventional and re-defining the possible
Tucked behind a shop front in Hastings town centre, the team of ‘digital explorers’ at Holograph are shaping the future of how we interact with technology.
Holograph combine advanced technology with insights into human psychology to develop ground-breaking products, systems and platforms in fields ranging from real-time analytics and eCommerce to AI and Robotics. ‘Problem solving,’ is how CEO Marc Woodhead describes the business.
Marc is the driver behind Holograph. His passion for the creative and the digital – influenced by his French artist mother and computing-expert father – emerged at an early age and spurred him into becoming a digital artist and embarking on a career as a digital architect at Hastings-based design and marketing company Brooker & How. Hastings was one of the first five places in the UK to get ADSL broadband creating a unique opportunity for Brooker & How to venture into new-media 19 years ago. Then, twelve years ago, Marc, with the support of long-standing colleague, engineer and software developer, Ben Clayton, decided to strike out on his own.
Holograph has grown by reputation, moving from developing websites and eCommerce systems into Machine Learning (A.I.), Robotics and Wearable technology. The company’s expansion has been helped by the area’s legacy as a hotbed for businesses working in the defence and aeronautics sector and attracted a pool of some of the very best mathematicians, software engineers, physicists and developers in the country.
Holograph now has 30 staff, a turnover of £2m and a world-class client list including Ribena, Lucozade, Britvic, Mars Petcare, the NHS and global shipping organisation, the Baltic Exchange. FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) projects include generating easy-to-use on-package coding to help increase engagement with consumers. And for the Baltic Exchange, the team developed a global platform which gives indices of world-wide freight and shipping costs and enables 24/7 online futures pricing, trading and settlements 4 times a day for different time zones. As well as developing the technology, Holograph also create content in their on-site production facilities for projects including their own children’s story-telling app PickaStory.
Marc puts the business’ success down to the incredible team which has evolved around the projects they have won.
‘We have a collective of really interesting and talented people – software engineers, physicists, mathematicians, designers, customer experience, user interface and marketing experts – all working together to blur the line between the human and the digital.’ Marc Woodhead, Holograph
He is particularly proud of Holograph’s diversity and equality. The multicultural team hail from different social backgrounds and 60% of the senior management team – Operations Director, Platform Producer and HR & Finance Director – are female.
Exploring new worlds
One of the team’s current projects is Lookinglass®. Developed out of their work in the FMCG sector, Lookinglass® enables a person to interact with a screen simply by looking at it. There’s no need to touch anything – smart camera technology tracks the movements of a person’s face, FocusTrack®, prompting the screen to react and respond. Marc is excited about the new product’s potential benefits. ‘Selecting a drink from a vending machine through a window, tracking interest in properties for sale, even triggering a call for help in the home, with Lookinglass® all this is possible with just a look.’
Holograph has stayed at the forefront of a rapidly evolving industry by re-investing profits including spending around 20% of its turnover each year on R&D. To support a project aimed at helping non technically-minded people easily manage their own web content, dubbed Content Stream v3, the business has received a grant from the South East Creatives programme, funded by the European Regional Development Fund.
‘The grant from South East Creatives has been fantastic, helping to pay for two new members of staff, including a front-end designer.’ Tricia Jenkins, Holograph
In addition to Lookinglass®, Holograph have a number of other ground-breaking projects in train including Dynamo® an exciting new product that creates virtual holograms using traditional screen technology. Marc’s enthusiasm is infectious. ‘It’s a fantastic industry to work in,’ he says. ‘Every day is different and throws up endless opportunities and possibilities.’Posted by Caspar Jayasekera on Tuesday 17 December 2019