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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City startup tech company Epigraph is helping both national retailers and local technology companies push into a future they might not realize they’ll need yet.

The company recently started a partnership with ACE Hardware to provide the Augmented Reality (AR) technology that’s being used on the retailer’s website right now for some of its products. The company is currently building out similar models for the rest of the products right now.

“There’s something about seeing something in your room that is different than seeing a two-dimensional image of it,” said Epigraph co-founder Jasper Mullarney.

That’s why Epigraph has found a lot of success in a small amount of time helping retailers superimpose products in their homes or yards. ACE Hardware and other big brands have already created partnerships to use the technology because data shows customers are more likely to buy and less likely to return what they can see in their living space first.

“Users end up with an emotional connection to that object having seen it in their room in 3D,” said Mullarney. “They’re sort of involved in the purchase.”

Mullarney’s journey with Epigraph and two co-founders, Bruno Guerreiro and Caleb Dermyer, has been unique, since similar companies often relocate to the coasts to get investors who are more likely to take a risk on a new company.

“I think a lot of the perception in the Midwest is there’s a different risk-tolerance for early-stage capital,” said UMKC Innovation Center Technology Ventures Studio Associate Director Chris Rehkamp.

Without capital, or money, startups can’t build and test their product, preventing growth.

Epigraph has been able to find enough funding to not only prove their product works but also sign deals like the one with ACE Hardware, showing it’s possible for other startups to find success in the Midwest and Kansas City without having to leave.

It also gives the next generation of startup founders someone to learn from and talk to about scaling up in KC.

“When Jasper is two, or three or four years down the road, he’s a great reference point and a great mentor for someone who’s on a similar trajectory,” said Rehkamp.

It’s a role Mullarney doesn’t mind playing, having gotten his own start in another startup before co-founding Epigraph. It also gives the greater startup community a way to retain.

“I hope companies like Epigraph and other startups provide a real platform for the careers of those talented people who are here, so they’ll stay here and work here instead of going to the coasts,” said Mullarney.

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