The Early Days

Growing up on construction sites in the west of Ireland, David Mitchell learned to walk on building sites alongside his father. Even from a young age, he recognized the inefficiencies plaguing the industry. “I don’t know why I got so obsessed with paperless construction,” David reflects. “Maybe it was that time I got told to knock down a wall for putting it in the wrong position.”

Driven by a vision for a better way forward, David founded XYZ Reality in 2017. The early concept used projectors to display 2D drawings directly onto the construction site floor. But the lightbulb moment came with the release of Microsoft’s HoloLens.

“If we could get a 3D model loaded into a 3D environment and you can see the hologram positioned accurately on site, that would be a potential game changer.”

David Mitchell, CEO of XYZ Reality

Teaming up with his technical co-founder Murray, who he met via LinkedIn, they got to work. “When I met with him I just basically dumped a bag of wires on his desk and said, ‘Make this work.'” The duo toiled away on evenings and weekends building prototypes. A successful pilot project on a J. Coffey Construction site, which delivered a 5X productivity boost, gave them the validation they needed.

Raising Funds As A Construction Tech Company

But raising money for a construction tech hardware startup in 2017 was no easy feat. “I think I’ve met over a thousand VCs,” David says. “We used to go in, and they’d be like, ‘Okay, so what are you doing?’ We’d say ‘Augmented reality.’ They’d say, ‘In what market?’ We’d say, ‘Construction.’ They might as well have said get the fuck out of here.”

Countless rejections later, XYZ Reality found a believer in Amadeus Capital. Partner Hermann Hauser had been following the company’s progress for two years. As David was seeing him out after another update meeting, frustrated and without an investment commitment, he turned around and said, “Herman, we’re going to fucking do this. We’re going to change the world.” Hermann replied, “Oh man, let’s do this.”

That £5 million Series A was the catalyst for rapid growth. XYZ Reality expanded from 3 founders to 135 employees in a few short years. All the while, they tirelessly advanced the Atom headset and software platform. “Hardware is hard,” David emphasizes. “It takes armies. You want people who want to back visions, who want to change the world. Not small incremental changes.”

Augmented Reality In Construction

Today, XYZ Reality’s cutting-edge AR solution is deployed on some of the most complex construction projects. It’s enabling full-site capture, real-time progress tracking, and data-driven decision making in a traditionally low-tech industry. The Atom headset, now several generations advanced, is intuitive and user-friendly. “The vision remains the same,” says David. “We want builders building from holograms, everyone wearing these headsets on site.”

Looking ahead, the potential is immense. David plans to open up the platform so other software providers can build applications for the Atom headset. He imagines a not-too-distant future where the jobsite superintendent puts on the headset in the morning, is guided to install a door, and with a click can access all the metadata on that door – its model number, fire rating, hardware, and more.

The ultimate goal? “I always call it the construction operating system,” David says. “This merger of the digital and the physical world. That’s the future of the industry.” With strong recurring revenue and a path to profitability, XYZ Reality is poised to be the company enabling that future.

Building A Generational Company

For other founders looking to bring hardware innovation to antiquated industries, David offers some hard-earned wisdom. “You need an angel investor who believes in your vision, because hardware is hard to build. We had a prototype before going to VCs. If I went to them with just a pitch deck saying I wanted to create an engineering-grade AR headset and my background was in construction, it wouldn’t have been very compelling.”

He also stresses the importance of patience and founder-investor alignment. “If you want to change the world and go after a massive opportunity, you need to find VCs who believe in that. It’s about building trust and a real partnership.”

Now with offices in London and San Francisco, XYZ Reality has certainly come a long way from David’s early days knocking down walls. But in many ways, they’re just getting started. “It’s my life mission,” David says with a smile. “I’ll always be trying to innovate and move the needle in construction. We’ve got a big world to rebuild.”

To learn more about XYZ Reality’s journey and how they’re transforming construction with augmented reality, visit xyzreality.com or reach out to David directly on LinkedIn.