If you grew up playing with Legos, you have some hands-on experience using your imagination to create objects to specific dimensions that you seek. Emagispace is bringing the flexibility of legos to real life physical spaces. Using EmagiBlocks, the interlocking units that allow for easy building, you can create rooms, walls, booths, or desks at a fraction of the price that a construction firm would charge. The company was started by an Emmy Award winning director and hopes to change how you approach your next project.
LA TechWatch chatted with founder and CEO Noel Maxam about the company and what went into the company’s first round of funding.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We just announced our Series A, which was a $4.2M round led by Alpha Edison, with additional investors including Circle Ventures, United Talent Agency CEO Jeremy Zimmer, 54 Madison, among others.
Tell us about your product or service.
Emagispace is a modular construction company that uses interlocking blocks to outfit any interior space. Our “EmagiBlocks” fit snugly together and form strong structures that when combined, can be built into nearly anything – walls, desks, retail set ups, TV show sets, you name it – and “skinned” with any design or wall covering to achieve any look and feel. As needs change, the blocks can easily be broken down or replaced, and re-used again and again for other projects.
Emagispace customers receive massive savings on time, labor and waste – nearly anything can be created in 1/10 the time at 50% the cost, across industries. Without these costs and with the added flexibility inherent to Emagispace, we’re aiming to free up designers and architects to create “space on demand.”
What inspired you to start the company?
Before Emagispace, I was in the television industry as a writer, director and executive producer and collectively worked on around 3,700 hours of television for networks like CBS, NBC, Disney and Nick-at-Nite. When reviewing our show budgets, building was always one of the biggest line items – I was often forced to store sets in costly storage spaces, repair damaged items, or even throw out and re-build entire sets from scratch, using up valuable time, budget and also creating tremendous waste. I couldn’t believe there wasn’t a solution for this, so I started tinkering and eventually developed Emagispace so it could be sustainable and reusable to increase productivity and decrease budgets. Shortly after I realized that our product not only affected building sets, but changes how we think about building everything.
How is it different?
No other option makes building as effortless as Emagispace – because EmagiBlocks are bundled and shipped in flat packs, they can be sent anywhere quickly and then used to build anything. Further, Emagispace is just a lot easier to build than regular construction. Each block easily “clicks” into place, and with just a screwdriver, a team of two can easily set up, teardown or build entire rooms and walls from scratch in around an hour.
On top of that – EmagiBlocks can be built, dismantled and re-used for any project, creating exponential savings for owners and the environment because they don’t have to throw out an interior then purchase entirely new materials, they just shift their blocks. There is really no other solution that creates the time, labor, and waste savings as we do. Plus, no one can touch our price point.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
Emagispace has nearly endless use cases that span across multiple giant industries. Our markets range from TV, film and theater sets to commercial office spaces, retail, trade shows, creative spaces like art galleries and museums. Just think of all the walls in the world – that’s where Emagispace can be!
We’re already working with a number of important customers including Sony Screen Gems, ABC, Revlon and others.
What’s your business model?
Our blocks are bought and sold, then used and re-used again. As customers become more familiar with the blocks, they often purchase additional skins to create different designs. We also play well with others – you can use as much or as little Emagispace for any project while seamlessly integrating it into traditional construction.
On the production side, we use a virtual manufacturing process – basically, we provide the materials and use other’s machinery during their down-time – enabling us to quickly expand or contract manufacturing at will and create product much faster than competitors.
What are some unconventional uses of Emagispace that you have seen?
Emagispace is being used for anything you can think of – from desks and phone booths in offices to trade show booths and unique theater sets. One of my favorite and most unexpected customers are actually golf shops – they use the Emagiblocks to create “virtual driving ranges” where customers can test out clubs.
What was the funding process like?
Very seamless! When you walk into a room and say “Hi, I can change the way in which we build pretty much everything, while saving time, money and the environment,” it’s fun to watch people’s eyes light up. We’ve put together an amazing and strategic group of investors who wholly believe in both the team and product that we’re building.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
Entrenched thinking in construction. This is an industry that hasn’t changed in hundreds of years – many people have a “it’s not broken, so don’t fix it” mentality. But once they see, touch and start building with Emagispace, they (often quickly) see how our platform can dramatically affect their bottom line.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
As I said earlier, it’s pretty easy to prove a value proposition around cutting costs, and saving both time and the planet while you do it! Investors can see that what we’re selling is real and provides tremendous value across a plethora of pretty enormous industries.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
Continue to develop kitted and custom solutions that address the needs of our customers, with a focus on aligning with the core tenants of value they desire: ease, speed, cost effective, open source, innovative design options and sustainable and environmentally responsible.
What advice can you offer companies in Los Angeles that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Find investors who are passionate about what you do. Search for those who share your same passion for your company, your product and your team. It makes all the difference.
In the business world, every single dollar counts. Every dollar you save behind the scenes is a dollar you can use to create a fictional world, which immerses and hooks viewers, generates advertising money, and helps your show outperform its rivals.
Not talking is just as important as talking. Leading a team requires listening to your employees and advisors, and paying attention to both what’s coming out of their mouth and what—importantly—their body language is saying. If you’re talking all the time, you’re too busy to listen and observe.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
We’re expanding very quickly and learning about new applications for Emagispace every day – whether it’s for VR simulators or escape rooms – so we anticipate entering even more new markets as we continue to develop solutions.
Do you prefer hiking or surfing in LA?
I would have to say hiking. It affords me some peaceful time in nature to creatively think about other opportunities to make a difference. Most recently it struck me that Emagispace can make an important impact on disaster relief for NGOs as a modular, portable building structure…