Architect Simon Cookes was frustrated about not being able to get enough site information so he could design efficiently and precisely.
With around 98 percent of architects using 3D software, the problems arise when survey information is only available in 2D.
“This means architects waste their time doing their own measurements, having to do redesigns and even getting sued for inaccurate designs,” Simon explains.
Simon wanted to find a way so architects could have easy access to laser-accurate spatial information.
“So, I started LARKI to provide exceptionally detailed 3D surveys online. Saving the property developers on average $40,000 and six months due to efficiencies gained from better, quicker and easier to use spatial information,” Simon says.
Simon was drawn to being an entrepreneur for the same reason that launches countless businesses – he knew his industry had a major problem and he wanted to fix it.
“It was a case of ‘scratch my own itch.’ I was an architect that had a problem and I had a hunch about how to fix it. I watched the space for 15 years and when I realized nobody was doing it, I eventually jumped on it myself,” Simon says.
“I enjoy getting teams together to solve complex problems with an elegantly designed solution.”
Simon claims his biggest success with LARKI has been building a fantastic team, including his co-founders Candice Tait (a former Lyft finance director) and Daniel Moore (a former CSIRO software engineer).
“There are big plans for LARKI; we are raising capital to take the business to the next level. We have 1/8 committed and some other parties interested, so it looks like we will close the round by March 2021,” Simon says.
“Then, we’re excited to launch our second iteration of larki.com.au at the end of Feb 2021 which will let our clients purchase, manage and view their 3D datasets through a dashboard and order new data from a map with a high-resolution aerial photo underlay.”
Simon believes LARKI will soon be the “Uber for spatial information.”
LARKI uses 3D laser scanning technology, disruptive innovation and the sharing economy to create a platform and a marketplace for sharing information collected by land surveyors.
The business model works by crowd-sourcing 3D scans from land surveyors, which they have already been commissioned to do and that would otherwise serve little purpose beyond the initial commission.
“More and more land surveyors are using the 3D laser scanner. There are a lot of suppliers out there doing this scanning work but it’s just sitting in their archive,” Simon says.
LARKI collects these existing scans and builds up a database of whole city precincts; architects can then download the data for specific sites. The scan provides a three-dimensional point cloud, which can be integrated with CAD software.
The LARKI business model provides passive income for land surveyors and allows architects to access highly detailed neighborhood information for the same cost as a traditional survey.
“How high is that fence? Where is that shadow actually hitting? All those questions are really easy to answer with a scan, but it’s really hard to understand from 2D,” Simon says.
Simon first came across the technology for 3D scanning in 2002 while he was a student.
“I thought it was pretty cool and watched this space for 15 years and it still hadn’t really hit the architecture industry yet,” he says. “And I then thought, well I’m going to do and I went back to university and did a master’s research thesis on it.”
Simon has always had an interest in technology in architecture. He’s worked as an architect at ARM Architecture and as a BIM implementer. For the last ten years, he’s also run DB Architecture.
“I love design but I just felt architecture wasn’t scalable enough. But when it comes to technology, it’s just scalable. You could come up with something really innovative and important and it can be impacting millions of people. Doing something that is practice innovation, as opposed to design innovation, is really exciting for me,” Simon says.
Simon credits his involvement with Fishburners, the coworking and digital startup community, for much of his success.
“Fishburners has been amazing. It’s truly the best place to start a high-growth tech startup. I’ve found a staff member here and overflow affordable devs, learned so much from the seminars, won two pitch competitions which have led to being published in the top media and getting investors interested.”
Simon insists LARKI is not limited to just site surveys.
“We can do really interesting analytical insights because we’ve got the majority of the data in the area. Analysis of the data can provide insights on the built form or future potential built form of an area as well as its population capacity,” Simon says.
“My dream is for LARKI to be a market place where people can get their spatial information and insights for anywhere in the world.”