ITU graduates teach AI to turn designs into code – and land international investment

Three ITU graduates have founded Uizard, a startup aiming to make it easy for anyone to build apps or websites. The company has secured $800,000 in funding from a group of investors and received international media attention– before even launching their product.

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Got an idea for an app or a website? Draw a mockup in your notebook (or on a napkin, if you prefer), upload a picture of it to an app, and let a deep learning algorithm do the work of coding a functional prototype in under a minute.

It may sound too easy to be true, but this is nonetheless the idea behind Uizard, a new Copenhagen-based startup founded by former ITU students. The app allows users to generate code for both Android and iOS and web-based interfaces.

Watch a demo of Uizard’s app here.

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The idea is to allow users to convert wireframes straight into prototypes, which is usually a time-consuming and tedious task for programmers.

Tony Beltramelli, CEO, Uizard
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“Basically, we are teaching machines to understand user interfaces. The idea is to allow users to convert wireframes straight into prototypes, which is usually a time-consuming and tedious task for programmers,” says Tony Beltramelli, CEO and a graduate of ITU’s Software Development programme.

The company has just raised $800,000 – or around 5 million Danish kroner – from an international group of investors including the US-based LDV Capital and New York Venture Partners. The investment will fund the development of a beta version to be released later this year and allow the company to hire more people.

Spare time project turned into a startup

Uizard started as a spare time project for Tony in early 2017. Inspired by his former student job as a front-end developer, and his specialization in machine learning from his studies at ITU, he set out to train a deep learning algorithm to understand hand-drawn wireframes and transform them into functional code.

This application of deep learning has not been seen before, and many people told him that the idea would never work. But during a weekend programming session, Tony and fellow ITU graduate Henrik Haugbølle found a solution that actually worked.

After publishing a research paper and a demo video online, they realized that the potential of the technology was huge. The project got mentions in major tech media like Wired, and Airbnb started experimenting with the technology inspired by their work.

Soon after, Tony and Henrik decided to quit their jobs, founded Uizard, and got former classmate Ioannis Sintos, as well as Dutch/Swiss friend Florian van Schreven, on board.

Still a need for human coders

Even though their product could eliminate some coding tasks, human programmers should not start fearing for their jobs, Tony emphasizes.

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The core value of our app is that it automates the trivial parts of the work, so software developers will have more time for creative tasks and for improving their product.

Tony Beltramelli, CEO, Uizard
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“The core value of our app is that it automates the trivial parts of the work, so software developers will have more time for creative tasks and for improving their product,” he says.

“Developers are still needed to put websites together, to add the business logic, effects and everything else. Uizard is really a tool for them to be able to do their work more efficiently,” adds Florian van Schreven.

Interest from Fortune 500 companies

Initially, the company plans to market their solution to digital agencies that create apps and websites on a daily basis. In the longer run, however, they predict that any larger company could make use of it to build their own products.

Extensive media attention from outlets like TechCrunch, The Next Web and FastCoDesign has already resulted in lots of interest from potential clients, including large enterprises, who want to know when the product will become available.

“We have gotten requests from some of the Fortune 500 companies. This really shows that there is a need in the market – and puts a little bit of pressure on us,” Henrik says with a laugh. 

Beyond user interfaces

Eventually, Uizard hopes to automate the coding of more than just user interfaces. They predict that their AI technology can be used to create navigable prototypes that can be hooked up to external data sources –and ultimately to build finished products.

The company vision is to be a go-to solution for anyone who wants to build an IT solution – not just apps and websites.

“Basically, we want to transform the user experience of building IT solutions. It shouldn’t be so complicated,” says Tony. 

Further information

Vibeke Arildsen, Press Officer, phone 2555 0447, email viar@itu.dk