Elijah Williams and Anna Baytosh are reimagining the architectural process with their startup ARTIFEX.
“The tools that architects use to draw existing buildings are very outdated and don’t represent the technological innovations that have happened in parallel sectors, such as construction, mining and trucking,” Williams said. “All different sorts of technology fields have progressed long past the tools that are used in architecture.”
Williams and Baytosh are introducing similar technology to the architecture sector through easy-to-use, direct workflow integration hardware.
Their first product, the AFX-10, “directly replaces the tools that [architects] already use, so there are no extra steps,” Baytosh said. “No technician needs to come in and teach them how to use it.”
Williams graduated from the Cal Poly College of Architecture and Environmental Design (CAED) in 2020 with an undergraduate degree, then again in 2021 with his master’s degree.
The idea for ARTIFEX originated during his master’s research. He analyzed the use of Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) scanners, which use light in the form of a pulsed laser to collect measurements. ARTIFEX is now applying this technology to the architectural space, increasing its affordability and accessibility.
Williams took the idea for ARTIFEX to the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) Hatchery, an on-campus incubator that connects Cal Poly students with the resources needed for a startup to succeed, where he met Baytosh.
Baytosh graduated from Chico State in 2018 with a degree in journalism with an emphasis in public relations. Following her graduation, she worked in New York at an investor relations firm before returning to California to earn her Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from Cal Poly.
“I really love the process of creating a company by building a business model around passionately representing the solution to an industry-specific problem,” Baytosh said.
She reached out to CIE Director of Student Innovation Programs, Jose Huitron, who connected her with Williams.
“Elijah needed a business context for his in-depth research, and I wanted to do something entrepreneurial, but didn’t have an idea to work with,” Baytosh said.
ARTIFEX competed in Innovation Quest (iQ), an annual business plan and prototyping competition hosted by the CIE, in April of 2021. They won the second-place prize of $10,000.
Following their success at iQ, the team joined the CIE Summer Accelerator, an intensive, summer-long program that helps Cal Poly students and recent graduates turn their startup ideas into real, viable business ventures.
ARTIFEX was one of nine startup teams, and the only remote team, accepted into the Summer Accelerator.
The Summer Accelerator connects participating teams with mentors who share their expertise and experience. This mentorship is proving valuable to the ARTIFEX team, providing Williams and Baytosh with insight into both the startup industry and the architecture industry.
“The people who they pair us with are so experienced and share such a vast array of knowledge,” Baytosh said. “They were not only deeply involved in their respective industries, but were entrepreneurial within those sectors, which takes extra courage, collaboration and teamwork.”
ARTIFEX is also working with their mentors to prepare for Demo Day, the culmination of the Summer Accelerator program where the teams showcase what they have accomplished throughout the summer and pitch their startup plans. Their mentors are helping the ARTIFEX team fine-tune their business plan and pitch deck before Demo Day on September 14.
Working with their mentors is “good practice” for pitching to investors, according to Baytosh.
“These 13 weeks are just one big practice session for the real deal,” she said.