The right advice at the right time, to capture a global market

Launch Lab helps Theia Markerless turn breakthrough tech into a global business
Theia
Theia Markerless' novel motion capture technology, leveraging machine vision and artificial intelligence. Supplied photo.
Editor's Note

This article is sponsored by Launch Lab.

For many tech startups, opportunity can be a double-edged sword.

Kingston’s Theia Markerless is a perfect example. CEO Scott Selbie, president Marcus Brown and their team are poised to turn the global market for motion capture on its ear.

They have cracked that long-elusive nut – fast and accurate motion capture that does not require subjects to wear snug suits covered in sensors or markers, or the use of special cameras.

ThieaBut how to woo skeptical global markets? There are immediate applications for this “markerless” technology across numerous industries – from healthcare to sport performance, ergonomics and augmented reality, video games, effects for movie and television, and the much-hyped metaverse. With so many low-hanging fruits, which opportunities should they reach for first to avoid spreading their small team too thin?

Enter Kingston’s Launch Lab

Launch Lab is a provincially funded Regional Innovation Centre and member of the Ontario Business Support Network. It works to foster entrepreneurship and commercialization across Eastern Ontario, and to help build globally competitive companies.

Launch Lab collaborates with post-secondary institutions and other stakeholders across the region. This includes Queen’s University. Through Queen’s Partnerships and Innovation’s (QPI) high-impact mentorship program, Launch Lab was introduced to Theia Markerless by Peter Becke, a QPI mentor. From there, Theia connected with Launch Lab’s targeted growth mentorship program, Amplify.

“Launch Lab has helped us to identify our ideal customers, and to convince prospects that we are the answer to this technical hurdle that the industry has struggled with for so long,” Brown said.

“Our Launch Lab advisors are not afraid to tell us what we need to hear, hold us accountable with weekly meetings, and ensure Marcus and I remain on the same page with the management of the company,” Selbie said.

As a CEO with a long track record in tech, Selbie is the spokesperson and ambassador for Theia Markerless. Brown, who brings a younger perspective, is more inward focused on key areas like product development.

Leaving founders in charge of their destiny

Selbie appreciates how the Launch Lab advisors don’t attempt to dictate how they choose to steer the ship as co-captains.

“They offer impartial advice to help us find our best way forward and tweak our own agenda, which I find refreshing,” he said. “They are making an incredible investment in our success, as part of a larger effort to support and promote innovation in Eastern Ontario.”

Launch Lab’s CEO, Scott Runte, one of Theia Markerless’ advisors under Amplify, emphasizes the same point.

“We don’t try to own the client’s decisions,” he said. “We play a small role by offering timely, targeted and strategic advice that will help a management team make the right decision – but it’s their decision, and we will support those decisions once they’re made.”

Over the past year, this support has helped Theia Markerless achieve seven-figure revenues and very positive cash flow. Launch Lab is now helping the company scale for growth on the sales and marketing side.

“The solution we bring to market is of course data-driven, and through Amplify, we are learning how our entire go-to-market strategy must also be data-driven,” Brown said.

It all comes down to data

Or, more aptly, the right fusion of machine vision, biomechanics and data analysis. A lot of data analysis. Theia Markerless uses video footage to train deep neural networks to recognize human motion and physical features from the skeleton outwards.

“We have orders of magnitude more data than anyone else in the world,” said company co-founder and CEO Scott Selbie, who brings decades of experience in data analysis from his previous company. “It is pretty cool. We are now the gold standard for 3D tracking of the human body.”