An image of Sophia Kurianski presenting about Jinolo as part of the INCUBATE program
When Sophia Kurianski was working on a group university assignment to design and build a robot, she noticed a problem.
“We were really struggling to pass around 3D working files of our design,” she said. “We were running around with USB sticks, we didn’t always have the right software to open files and it was hard to know if we were even looking at the latest version.”
With no obvious solution at hand, the final-year computer science and mechatronic engineering student began to wonder if this was a broader industry problem as well. So she started cold calling different engineering and industrial design companies.
“I spoke to companies in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States and everyone seemed to be struggling with this exact problem,” she said.
It was an issue that had only worsened for these companies during the COVID-19 pandemic, Sophia discovered.
“They were realising that their teams were not always going to be in the same room or lab,” she said. Their staff weren’t always going to be able to tap each other on the shoulder and say, ‘have a look at my design’. So they were really starting to look for software tools that allow people to share 3D files across locations and time zones.”
Sophia decided to build them a solution. It was called Jinolo – a new software prototype that would enable the sharing and viewing of 3D and 2D CAD files within a web browser.
“Jinolo has a 3D viewer in-built into a file cloud-sharing platform, so anyone can see a file in the browser without having to install any costly software,” she said. “Software can be quite expensive as it’s often licensed per user, when you may only need to take a quick look or approve a design. So Jinolo solves that problem. It’s all in the browser.”
Programming the software herself, Sophia’s software currently supports sharing, viewing and commenting on most open source file formats so is applicable to anyone creating in 3D environments, from artists and designers through to engineers and manufacturers.
In seeking feedback on some beta versions of her software, she discovered the industry-wide file-sharing problem was having more severe consequences than she had initially thought.
“In speaking to a lot of companies, I was hearing stories of staff sending the wrong version of a file to manufacturing and having 1000 of the wrong prototypes printed,” she said. “Version control was proving to be an expensive problem too. I knew I was on the right track.”
While Sophia was just 24 when she started Jinolo, she says its origins go back much further.
“I was always that kid with the lemonade stand – always coming up with ideas,” she said.
Since graduating last year, Sophia is now developing Jinolo full-time. While it’s been a huge learning curve, she is realising the many ways that her university experience has prepared her for her start-up journey.
“It can be tough at industry events, especially as the only woman,” she said, “It can take some getting used to. But I did engineering as my undergraduate degree so I was used to the gender ratio,” she said.
She is also drawing support from a range of mentoring and incubator programs like INCUBATE, the University of Sydney’s Flagship Startup Program, that is partnering with the Australia Council for the Arts on a new initiative for creative entrepreneurs.
Jinolo is also attracting seed funding. After receiving an Investment NSW Minimum Viable Product grant earlier this year, Jinolo also won $25,000 as part of the University of Sydney Business School’s 2022 Genesis program.
“It was pretty surreal,” she said. “It was a very exciting moment.”
With Jinolo’s public launch imminent, Sophia shares this advice for those looking to enter the start-up game, as she was just a year ago.
“If you stare at the mountain and try to see the peak, it can be quite overwhelming. I just make a bit of progress each day. One step at a time,” she said.
Do you have an idea for a creative start-up? The Australia Council for the Arts and INCUBATE, the University of Sydney’s Flagship Startup Program are offering a 12-week program to connect and empower creatives to turn their entrepreneurial ideas into a feasible and desirable business. Application details are here.