Assam entrepreneur turned the grief of losing his best friend into My3DSelfie, a startup that uses 3D tech to bring one’s most precious memories to life.
We make memories every second that we’re alive, and while some get lost with time, some become so significant that they stay with us for years to come. The birth of our first child, our first solo trip, the day we brought a rescued animal home — there’s so many moments we’d love to freeze in time.
And while we do so with photographs and videos, imagine this — a 3D replica of a 2D photograph of your most precious memories.
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That’s the way Assam-based Harsha P Deka’s platforms My3DSelfie and My3D Meta preserve them. The 35-year-old has brought over 10,000 photos to life so far and delivered them to 45 countries including Singapore, the US, Australia, India, Canada and more. He recently raised funding of over Rs 10.5 crore from The Chennai Angels, Dholakia Ventures, AccelNest, Karn Nagpal, Badri Raghavan, IIT-IIM Angels, and Hyderabad Angels.
“There was nothing similar to this back in 2016 when I started. I knew I had a huge market and soon enough, we became one of the largest holders of 3D human models in the world,” Harsha tells The Better India.
Not his first try at startups
The Guwahati-born entrepreneur says that he always had a knack for business. “I remember I sold the photocopies of my tuition teacher’s notes to my classmates at a price. I was rich within a few days, but my parents found out and I was given a good scolding. Looking back, the idea might not be acceptable, but was smart enough to earn me money,” laughs Harsha.
After completing his secondary education from Guwahati, Harsha moved to Canada for his Bachelor’s degree. While pursuing higher education, he held various odd jobs like janitor and salesperson to “get a glimpse of the real world”.
“I worked for 16 hours a day during my college breaks to get hands-on experience of what kind of product people need, and how I could build customer relationships before I could start building a business,” he says.
In 2010, when Harsha was still in college, he tried his hands at business for the first time.
“I started my first company Myra Solutions, which was a software solution provider. I was the sole founder of the company. One of our products was ‘Barter Books’, where you could exchange books, which were very expensive back then. The startup did not do quite well and looking back, I think it was because I did not do any marketing,” he recalls.
He started another company in 2011, which was an application that helped people to reduce stress. “There was limited awareness and no industry for stress management, so the product failed to reach the audience,” he notes.
‘For my beloved friend’
Around the same time, while Harsha was still in Canada, he received a life-changing phone call.
“I distinctly remember — it was a calm Friday evening when my brother called me. He told me I’d lost my childhood best friend. I was devastated. I could not take it in, the grief and sadness took over me. I took a couple of weeks to recover from the shock and I could not even visit his family at that time,” he recalls.
Sitting in his grief, Harsha wanted to do something special for his family. He wanted to capture the essence of his friend in a physical form.
“I wanted to immortalise my friend and make a 3D replica of his photograph with his guitar. I tried to find services that would do that for me.” But nothing concrete turned up, and for a while, he quit his pursuit.
In 2015, in a mall in California, Harsha came across a 3D scanner where they were making small figurines of scanned objects. He approached them to ask if they could make it out of a 2D image.”
“The idea at the time was new and got the attention of many people. But there were loopholes too. For instance, if you want to give a gift to someone, you cannot ask them to come and get scanned. The element of surprise will be lost in that, so I decided to brainstorm more.”
Harsha explains that 3D models are building blocks for animation, metaverse, and gaming platforms. “I realised that it might have a big market, and that if I want to create something like this, I need a huge database. If scanning one character takes 72 hours, for a thousand characters, we need a lot of hours,” he says.
In 2016, Harsha released My3DSelfie.com, where he created 3D figurines for his customers. “In about five years of functioning, in 2020, we became the largest library holder of human models.”
Chris, who received a 3D figurine of his dog, says, “It was very realistic! My heartbroken wife was in tears when I surprised her with the figurine of our former 18-year-old dachshund. This way, our Polly can live forever in our minds and on our shelves.”
Although Harsha lived in Canada for the past 14 years, he decided to return to India in 2019. “I always wanted to come to my homeland and do something here. I wanted to, most importantly, do something for the Northeastern part of India. It is not as developed as other regions in the country and I believe the states still lie in a state of neglect.”
“I knew the contributions I make in a developing country will be far more useful than in a developed country. [So] I came back for good. We have an office in Guwahati and one in Bengaluru.”
With the recent funding of Rs 10.5 crore, Harsha is all set to come up with a range of services with My3DMeta.com.
“What Canva did in 2D, we want to do in 3D with My3dMeta. For 2D graphics, one might have to learn Photoshop. Similarly for 3D, you have Zbrush. But learning these could take you years. With My3DMeta, you can do it within a couple of hours. It will help artists create 3D graphics in minutes and in a very cost-effective way. My3DMeta will be useful not just to artists but across fields like gaming, design, and other creative industries,” explains Harsha.
The founder is all set to launch My3dMeta in May. The 3D figurines can be customised and purchased from the official website.
Edited by Divya Sethu
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