A growing German-Austrian tech company has selected Durham over Atlanta as its U.S. headquarters.
Holo-Light GmbH, an augmented and virtual reality software company, chose Durham partly due its close proximity to existing customers, according to Helmut Gulde, Chief Corporate Development Officer. Holo-Light has more than 100 enterprise customers, including U.S.-based BMW Group, Procter & Gamble, Denso and several top aerospace companies. The company sees the U.S. as the most important market for their type of technology and a key driver for growth rates, Gulde said.
Employing more than 60 workers globally, Holo-Light has been on a trajectory of growth since it was founded in 2015. The company is on the forefront of bringing AR and VR to enterprise companies for use cases like advanced 3D modeling by engineering teams.
To date, Holo-Light has been based in offices in Ismaning, Germany, just outside Munich; and Innsbruck, Austria. To propel its growth story forward—and after many customers expressed a desire for them to be closer—Holo-Light knew it needed to create a headquarters in the U.S. While they considered California, Texas, the Northeast and the Great Lakes region in addition to runner-up Atlanta, Gulde said they found a perfect match in Durham.
“We found the best situation and the best environment for us,” Gulde said. “(What) intrigued us quite a lot is the vibrant and growing tech community that is already there, the universities in connection with talent and technology capabilities.”
When Holo-Light’s team saw the energy behind the Raleigh-Durham Startup Week a few weeks back, Gulde said that confirmed to them once again that they made the right decision to be here. It showed their clients and partners had been correct all along in singing the Triangle’s praises.
“People over here seem to have the same mindset that we have because we don’t only want to benefit from a community,” Gulde said. “We also like to contribute to a community.”
Gulde said Holo-Light intends to build a U.S. company with European roots, so they are looking to hire at least 10 employees here within the year, for both early and mid-career roles.
And as to where Holo-Light will make its official American base? If everything goes according to plan, they will become a major presence in Durham’s One City Center.
The U.S. expansion also comes as Holo-Light sets its sights on more funding. Just last December, Holo-Light closed its largest-ever financing round of $6.3 million with EnBW New Ventures, Future Energy Ventures and Bayern Kapital. They aim to accomplish a Series B round within the next 12 months.
“That will be a tremendous opportunity for us as a company to get on the next level of growth, but also for investors,” Gulde said. “We would really like to invite investors to use that opportunity and take the ride together with us, notably from the U.S.”
Holo-Light was originally founded in 2015 when a group of physicists were coming out of university and saw the potential to revolutionize engineering with augmented reality. The first end-user application is still in use today as Holo-Light aims to unleash the power of AR and VR for the metaverse, Gulde said.
“Meta’s key drivers are augmented and virtual and mixed reality, because it brings the physical and the virtual world together,” Gulde said. “Streaming is the key enabler for that, so without our streaming technology, there will be no metaverse—whether it is for consumers or for the enterprise.”