In the ever-evolving digital landscape, Villume stands out as a unique platform, uniting international galleries and artists for unforgettable photorealistic virtual exhibitions. Today, we chat with the founders of Villume, Alin Bugeag, and Georg Katstaller, to uncover their story and the birth of this game-changing platform.
Alin's background spans various facets of the IT world, from software development and architecture to entrepreneurship. He reminisces, "I've always seen computers as a means to turn my dreams into reality. I dreamed of building my own corporation as early as grade 5." On the other hand, Georg comes from a background of 3D visualizations, photography, and film. He has been self-employed for over a decade, specializing in art, visualizations, and digitalization.
The Beginning of a Partnership
Villume's origins can be traced back to a lucky encounter in 2017 when Georg Katstaller, an entrepreneur and fine art photographer, crossed paths with Alin Bugeag, the owner of the software company Gothru. co. Georg recalls, "I've been using Alin's software since 2017 for my business needs." Alin confirms, "Indeed, back in 2017, Google's decision to terminate a project allowing selected photographers and agencies to publish connected 360 images to Street View shook the industry. Gothru quickly leveraged the new Google Street View Publish API to create a superior tool for connecting and publishing images to Street View."
However, a void emerged in the market when Google severed its ties with its tool. Georg, already a satisfied user, found himself seeking a new solution. Alin remembers, "Georg had other options, but he wisely chose our more expensive solution, and since then, he's been our biggest client."
The connection between Alin and Georg deepened over time. Alin explains, "Frequent discussions about software issues and helping Georg's business run smoothly from Gothru's side brought us closer. Talking extensively with someone fosters a strong friendship, so we became long-distance friends."
The idea for Villume took shape in the spring of 2020 when Georg stumbled upon the potential of virtual galleries. He had a habit of creating 3D mock-ups of his own gallery shows to visualize their layout better. Georg recalls, "I wanted to give others, who couldn't physically attend the shows, a unique way to experience them." This desire led him to create 360° images and virtual tours of his galleries. Given Alin's expertise in virtual tours through Gothru, the idea for Villume emerged.
For Georg, Villume is his inaugural tech startup adventure. In contrast, Alin has prior entrepreneurial experience, with Gothru as his first venture. Villume came next, and he is currently cooking up a third project called Panorra, aiming to create a 360-degree-focused social media platform.
Building Villume wasn't a walk in the park, but Alin and Georg took it in stride. Alin shares, "We didn't face insurmountable challenges, but it took three years of hard work, tests, and iterations to match or even surpass competitors in the field."
The Importance of High-Quality Online Galleries
The art world has been rapidly changing, especially post-pandemic, and Villume is at the forefront of this transformation. Georg sums it up, "Our aim with Villume is to support artists, galleries, and the entire industry with top-notch quality and service."
So, what's next for Villume?
As Villume enters the active sales stage, they are gearing up for their next challenge: getting the platform out there and engaging with their first subscribers. They are eager to learn from their subscribers' feedback, constantly evolving to provide an even better experience.