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Lightr transforms audiences from spectators to participants

Christian Holmgaard Lund and Johannes Valentin Berg first crossed paths at Aarhus University and set their course for an exciting journey. Their strong interest in combining technology and creative design marked the beginning of a project that would later become their innovative startup, Lightr. By developing a platform that allows artists to interact with the audience through light on their smartphones, they have created a new chapter in the entertainment industry. This article delves into their journey from being students to entrepreneurs and their vision of changing the audience experience at concerts, theater performances, and more, turning them from spectators into participants.

Christian Holmgaard Lund has always been interested in technology and dabbled in programming in high school, but he never became fully engaged with it until he started his studies in IT Product Development at Aarhus University. During his studies, he met Johannes Valentin Berg, who had briefly explored musicology before deciding to study IT Product Development. They both agreed that the combination of technology, creativity, and physical design was what attracted them to the program.

Right from the start, Christian and Johannes formed a study group and worked on various projects throughout their studies before submitting their thesis in the summer of 2022. This thesis served as the foundation for their newly established company, Lightr, which had recently received an InnoFounder grant from the Innovation Fund.

"It actually all started when we had to create a product for an IT project course the semester before our thesis," Johannes explains, adding, "When I've been to concerts, I've often thought that everyone in the audience has a phone in their pocket, and it must be usable for something. For example, a fun interactive activity."

Christian and Johannes embarked on a project involving smartphone-controlled lighting. The project turned out to be so exciting that they chose to continue working on it for their thesis. "The idea is that everyone in the audience using Lightr holds a light from the stage that the light designer can control, making the audience an integral part of the experience. Ultimately, we hope to develop the product for two-way communication, so the audience can not only receive inputs but also have the opportunity to influence or control parts of the events they participate in," Christian explains.

If you've been to a Coldplay concert, you may have experienced something similar with glowing wristbands, which served as an inspiration for Christian and Johannes. However, with Lightr, there's no need to produce millions of plastic wristbands since it directly integrates with the audience's smartphones, which simply need to have a specific website open. Moreover, their product offers many more possibilities, as it can transmit not only light but also sound, text, and images. Their product has already been tested at a concert with the Danish band Hugorm, and more collaborations are in the works.

Lightr is a web application where a lighting designer can set up light control and send it to smartphones via a predefined website. All that's needed is a PC that can play the programmed "cues," allowing Lightr to be integrated into professional lighting setups.

"The only thing the audience needs to participate interactively in the event is a link. This has been a crucial criterion for us from the start. Users should simply visit a website rather than downloading an app or creating a user profile. It should be easy to participate," Johannes explains.

Technology isn't everything – we need to know more!

But it shouldn't just be easy for the audience. Lightr is also developed to be user-friendly for lighting designers. Early on, Christian and Johannes realized they needed expertise in this area.

"We had a good handle on developing the product itself, but we didn't know the industry and what programs they already use. We want to ensure that our system is easy and intuitive to use," Christian says.

Therefore, they contacted several venues in Aarhus, which recommended they get in touch with the same man - Theis Wermuth, a professional lighting designer who works on various events in Denmark, including bands like Alex Vargas and Hugorm. They sent him an email, which led to a conversation and later developed into a professional collaboration.

Theis thought it was a good and interesting product with great potential that Christian and Johannes were developing. He helped them qualify how their interface and functions should be structured and could also introduce them to numerous relevant contacts in the industry. This interest from a domain expert convinced Christian and Johannes that what they were working on might not just be a student project but actually had the potential to become something much bigger.

Let's get cooking!

In the summer of 2022, Christian and Johannes submitted their thesis, but they were far from done with the project. They decided to try their hand at entrepreneurship and became affiliated with Aarhus University's startup environments, HatchIT Lab at the Department of Computer Science, and The Kitchen, which brings together entrepreneurs from across the university.

"We've been fortunate to have the opportunity to be part of HatchIT Lab, where we've had office space close to the expertise and the chance to use the department's various labs, but also The Kitchen, where we've received excellent advice and guidance from experts such as lawyers and financiers," Johannes explains, and Christian adds, "Through The Kitchen, we also had a fantastic opportunity in connection with a 3-month program, where we received guidance and could work on launching Lightr. It has been a fantastic opportunity, and if others have an entrepreneur within them, we can really recommend contacting The Kitchen. It has been a huge help for us."

After the three months were up, they had made significant progress with their company, but they needed an income. Both found relevant jobs – Johannes at the Agency for IT and Learning and Christian at Netcompany. These positions provided them with valuable experience for their ongoing work, especially in terms of structure and how code looks on a larger scale. Despite being happy with their new jobs, they continued to be passionate about Lightr and decided to work on the project alongside their full-time positions.

"We made an agreement that we would allocate time during the week to work on Lightr. But it was really challenging. We had a few office days, but it didn't move much," Johannes explains.


Therefore, they decided to explore opportunities for entrepreneurial support to realize their dream of making their thesis their livelihood. In the fall of 2022, they applied for InnoFounder from the Innovation Fund but received a rejection with valuable feedback.

"We had a good handle on developing the product itself. But the fund wanted us to have team members with business or industry experience. Moreover, there were no statements from stakeholders," Christian says.

Fortunately, their collaborator, Theis Wermuth, was ready to become a permanent part of the team, and he is now a co-owner of Lightr and leads the company's marketing efforts. The next six months were spent talking to relevant individuals and creating user cases, so in the summer of 2023, they could submit a new application to the Innovation Fund's InnoFounder program, and this time, with success.

"It was a relief and a day of celebration when we received the response from the Innovation Fund," Johannes says, adding, "It means that for a whole year, we can fully dedicate ourselves to working on and further developing Lightr." Additionally, Christian and Johannes will be assigned a mentor to assist them with the business aspects they haven't mastered yet. Currently, they are working intensively on creating a demo version of Lightr, which Theis can take with him when designing large lighting productions.

The dream is for Lightr to be used at many major concerts but also at all sorts of other events. They see numerous opportunities to make events more interactive. This could include sports events, theater performances, or interactive art exhibitions.

If you want to learn more about Lightr, you can follow them on their LinkedIn page or meet them at the Digital Tech Summit at Øksnehallen on November 8-9. Participation is free.